William Calloley Tremmel

Religion. What is it?

NY: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976

 

[1] We shall define religion functionally, that is, according to the proper service it performs in the life and self-fulfillment of man…. Also, a functional definition of religion steps away from giving a sectarian definition of religion in which one specific religion is claimed to be the “true religion,” a procedure that inevitable identifies all other religions as not true religions, and, therefore, actually not religions at all.

 

[2] I. RELIGION IS THE WAY A PERSON (OR GROUP OF 

PERSONS) BEHAVES IN AN EFFORT TO DEAL ADEQUATELY WITH THOSE ASPECTS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE WHICH ARE HORRENDOUS AND NON-MANIPULABLE;

II. DOING SO BY THE EMPLOYMENT OF VARIOUS

      INTELLECTUAL, RITUAL, AND MORAL TECHNIQUES;

III. AND DOING SO FROM THE CONVICTION THAT THERE IS

AT THE CENTER OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE, AND EVEN OF ALL LIFE, A BEING OR PROCESS (A DIVINE REALITY) IN WHICH AND THROUGH WHICH A PERSON  (OR COMMUNITY OF PERSONS) CAN TRANSCEND THE LIFE-NEGATING TRAUMAS OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, CAN OVERCOME THE SENSE OF FINITUDE.

[3] IV. WITH ALL THIS, RELIGION STILL TURNS OUT TO BE NOT

SIMPLY A METHOD OF DEALING WITH RELIGIOUS PROBLEMS, BUT IS ITSELF AN EXPERIENCE OF GREAT SATISFACTION AND IMMENSE PERSONAL WORTH. RELIGION IS NOT ONLY SOMETHING FOR PEOPLE (FUNCTIONAL), BUT IS SOMETHING TO PEOPLE (AN EXPERIENCE, EVEN AN ECSTASY).[1]


[Submitted by James A. Santucci]

 



[1] Parts I and II of this proposition are reformulations of the functional definition of religion given by William H. Bernhardt in his Functional Philosophy of Religion, where he states that “religious behavior is a complex form of individual and group behavior whereby persons are prepared intellectually and emotionally to meet the nonmanipulable aspects of existence positively by means of a reinterpretation of the total situation and with the use of various techniques.” (Denver: Criterion Press, © 1958, p. 157).