Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What is Religion?

Religion has become a much maligned word. But while many people are giving up on religions as contained in institutional churches, statistics show a majority of people in the United States believe in God. These people have determined that while there is a God, churches don’t really help them find Him.

These people might be helped, as can all of us, by stopping to contemplate what the word religion means. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary has several definitions.

Religion is:
(1) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
(2) the service and worship of God or the supernatural
(3) commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
(4) a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith

In the scriptures the word faith is used to mean belief, trust, loyalty, power, or system of beliefs. But the most interesting and informative thing about the word faith for me is its history. There are two differing opinions of how we got the word. Everyone is agreed that re- means again. But some scholars think the word originally meant “painstaking observance of rites” or to perform the rites over and over again. Other Scholars believe the words originally meant ‘that which ties believers back to God’ so the concept is to again be with God. Another word that is related to the word religion is the word rely.

When we stop to ponder on what the word religion means it helps us visualize and realize what religion can mean in our lives. Religion ties us back to God. It is our mortal link to Him. It is what we rely on in order to return to Him.

As Latter-day Saints, we know that it is the covenants that tie us back to God and we understand the importance of making and keeping covenants. Those covenants are found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are the very things that tie us back to God.

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