Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically-based, and cross-cultural perspectives.
While theologians attempt to understand the subject matter of religion from within a particular religious tradition, scholars of religion study human religious behavior and belief from outside any particular religious viewpoint. Religious studies draws upon multiple disciplines and their methodologies including anthropology, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and history of religion.
Religions studies originated in late 19th century in Europe, when scholarly and historical analysis of the Bible had flourished, and Hindu and Buddhist texts were first being translated into European languages. Early influential scholars included Friedrich Max Müller, in England, and Cornelius P. Tiele, in the Netherlands. Today religious studies is practiced by scholars worldwide.
In its early years, it was known as Comparative Religion or the Science of Religion and, in the USA, there are those who today also know the field as the History of Religion (associated with methodological traditions traced to the University of Chicago in general, and in particular Mircea Eliade, from the late 1950s through to the late 1980s). The field is known as Religionswissenschaft in Germany and Sciences de la religion in the French-speaking world.
Spirituality becomes at once the indicator of one's nearness to God and the measure of one's usefulness to fellow beings. Spirituality enhances the ability to discover beauty in things, recognize truth in meanings, and discover goodness in values. Spiritual development is determined by capacity therefor and is directly proportional to the elimination of the selfish qualities of love.
Religion has to do with feeling, acting, and living, not merely with thinking. Thinking is more closely related to the material life and should be in the main, but not altogether, dominated by reason and the facts of science and, in its nonmaterial reaches toward the spirit realms, by truth. No matter how illusory and erroneous one's theology, one's religion may be wholly genuine and everlastingly true.
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Pages in category "Religion"
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