Signs of the true religion

In philosophy (including natural theology), one is entitled to demand to demand logically-compelling proofs.  In religion, which rests on historical–and therefore contingent–revelation, this is too much to ask for.  But although there may not be a proof of Christianity or Islam or Buddhism, there can be reasons to believe in Christianity, Islam, or Buddhism.  One might call these reasons “evidence” or “signs”.  They don’t refute all reasonable doubt, but they do point to the truth of the religion.

What are the signs of a true religion?

  1. It’s vision of God should be both grander and more mysterious than even the God of natural theology.  We know this is true, because natural theology itself tells us that God is beyond our comprehension, so a clearer view of Him should make Him seem even more mysterious.  A mere human invention, on the other hand, would almost certainly tend to make Him easier on the imagination.
  2. The true religion will increase our horror of sin, and increase our love of holiness.  This also is a sign of clarity of vision.
  3. The true religion should have a problem with theodicy.  It should not be contradicted by the existence of evil, but it should not provide an explanation that makes evil a natural or expected thing.  Evil should be an unexpected anomaly in this religion, because that is what evil is in reality.  It is an anomaly; it should not exist.  A creed that explains evil too  easily should be regarded as morally suspect.
  4. The true religion should vindicate mankind’s earliest, most spontaneous religious impulses.  It should explain why the spontaneous reaction of mankind to the Sacred–as seen in primitive peoples–consists of myths, rituals, sacrifices, temples, petitionary prayer, etc.
  5. The true religion should make unexpected connections.  We know that in God all positive extremes meet in perfect simplicity.  If a religion shows how this can be in some case (e.g. how justice and mercy, or immanence and transcendence, can be united for God), that’s a sign in its favor.
  6. The world makes more sense when viewed by the true religion.  It is a mystery that makes other things make sense.

One Response

  1. […] my earlier post Signs of the True Religion: The true religion should have a problem with theodicy.  It should not be contradicted by the […]

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