Sunday, September 25, 2016

What does it mean to say that religion is personal?

What do we mean when we say religion is very personal to every individual. It sounds so very American (and so un-American to deny) but what does it mean?

17 comments:

Joe Hinman said...

I don't say religion is personal. i say I have I have a personal relationship- with God. Religion is social it';s a cultural and social institution. Personal relationship mean I understand d God as knowing and caring who I am and what need and I know and care who God is and what God wants. when I say "knowing" I mean deep abiding personal sense of love, going both ways.

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B. Prokop said...

There's nothing wrong with saying that "religion" has a personal dimension, but it is nevertheless but one dimension (or aspect) of a much larger whole. The Old Testament, for instance, is the story of a people, not that of isolated individuals. And more than half the New Testament deals with the formation of the Church, rather than of monadic personal entities.

To ignore or even deny the "corporate" nature of religion is to gut the very meaning of the term.

Ilíon said...

"What do we mean when we say religion is very personal to every individual. It sounds so very American (and so un-American to deny) ..."

That doesn't sound "so very American" to me, it sounds so very post-modern.

tearfang said...

Doesn't sound very American to me.

It usually means one of these, take you pick based on who is saying it and the context:
'I don't want to talk about it'
OR
'I have no interest in defending the truth of my religious beliefs'
OR
'You should shut up bc I don't like your religion and religious ideas to me are by definition false so at best they should stay private'

B. Prokop said...

There is also a danger in over-emphasizing the (very real) personal nature of religion, in that it all too often turns into a reason/excuse to shut people up, to restrict faith from the public sphere.. and worse, to compel citizens to act in ways contrary to their most deeply held beliefs, or to silently acquiesce to public evil.

Ilíon said...

^ ^^ Exactly.

B. Prokop said...

Victor has posed the question in a very problematic way. What does it mean, he asks, when we call religion "personal"? I'll admit that I haven't really answered his question yet, but rather pointed out that religion does have a personal aspect (so yes, the term has some validity) and that it is often misused by people who do not care for, or are actively hostile to, religion. But what does it mean?

So I'll give my "personal" answer to a query about "personal" religion.

To me, religion is personal in the sense that its claims demand a response from me as an individual - not as a Catholic, not as a Christian, and certainly not as a "theist" (whatever that means), but as myself, naked before God with no one to my right hand or to my left. Just me. Do I, Robert S. Prokop, so prioritize my life that I place Jesus Christ above, before, and ahead of everything else? Do I consider my every thought, word, and deed in light of the Word made flesh? Do I harbor any residual worship to false idols, such as comfort, reputation, routine, or respectability? Do I regard my life as somehow my own (despite the fact I did nothing to bring it about), or do I consider it as on loan from my Creator, to be used for His purposes?

That's what I mean, when I say religion is personal.

oozzielionel said...

I am hearing more often from Christians that faith requires community. In part, this is in reaction to an individualistic tendency. It reaffirms the importance of meeting together regularly, the role of a church community, the responsibility to other believers, and the strength of a vibrant faith community that displays the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

B. Prokop said...

I wrote about this very topic twice, over on my own blog, here and here.

John Moore said...

Just on an individual level, it means religion is like sex. You shouldn't come up to a stranger and blatantly ask them what kind of porno they like, and in the same way you shouldn't ask a stranger what religion they believe in. Discussion of religion is an intimate kind of thing, so you need to get to know the person fairly well before you can speak openly about it.

Victor Reppert said...

The context of comes from when I told a class we would be talking about questions of religion. The reaction was "Isn't that personal?"

oozzielionel said...

In that context, "personal" would imply "private" with a legal privacy tinge to it. Personal and private views tend to be excluded and even forbidden in a school setting. By calling it personal, religion should not be discussed in school. It is likely illegal to speak of religion in a public school setting. Worse yet, it should never be a matter of study with right or wrong answers. It belongs out of the public sphere. It is consigned to specialized houses of worship on specific calendar days. People have a right to be free from religion. Its discussion must never be imposed or required. Victor, you should be ashamed of yourself for not only breaking several social taboos but also committing several felonies! ;)

B. Prokop said...

oozzie,

Victor is a Philosophy professor. He ought to be discussing religion in class!!!

It's kinda part of the subject.

oozzielionel said...

I meant my post as sarcasm, thus the wink. Let me know how to better telegraph my tone.

B. Prokop said...

Sorry! Didn't notice the wink. I guess I just tune those emoti things out.

Victor Reppert said...

It is interesting that things have gotten reversed; we can talk about sex to our heart's content without blushing but NOT religion.

Ilíon said...

VR: "It is interesting that things have gotten reversed; we can talk about sex to our heart's content without blushing but NOT religion."

Yeah; that previous comment was so gobsmacking that I couldn't come up with a polite response to it.