Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger
crookedfingers

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entering into personal contact with the godhead

“Cosmic symbolism, myths and rites, have brought before us the collective structure of the nonbiblical religions. But side by side with these forms of communal religious life, there is the realm of individual religious experience, the personal relationship of the soul with God. This is a territory on the fringes of cosmic religion, often confused with it. No longer is it a question of ensuring the protection of the godhead for the preservation of nature and the race, but of entering into personal contact with the godhead, beyond nature and the race altogether. Within the scheme that is available to historical inquiry, these aspirations appear in the schools of nabi or bhiksu, where the practices of asceticism and mysticism are taught. We encounter these in Japanese Buddhism, in Greek Orphism, in Semitic Shamanism.

The most general form of this personal relation with the godhead is bhaki, the eusebeia of the Greeks, the pietas of the Latins. It appears wherever the godhead is conceived not merely as a power from which benefits are sought, and whose anger is feared, but where God becomes an object of love. The religious literature of the pagans provides admirable examples of this type of devotion. The form in which piety is expressed is that of prayer. This is one of the fundamental structures of religion. Prayer takes many forms-praise, acts of grace, supplication. It is the essential activity of personal religion, in that it implies recognition of a godhead with whom the soul can enter into communication and communion, and whose preeminent value it accepts.

Piety is evidently common to pagan and biblical religion. But here again it is important to present the problem correctly. The existence of religious instincts is a universal human fact. There are great religious geniuses outside Christendom. But just the same, as we have said, it is not religious feeling that counts, for in itself this does not save. The unique property of the Bible is the revelation of the coming of salvation. From that time forward, the essential activity of religion becomes that of faith. Does this mean, however, that religious feeling is a pagan contamination of Christianity, as many Protestants suppose? Here again we must return to the general law of the relationship between Christian revelation and cosmic religion. By revealing the new birth of faith, biblical religion does not destroy the riches of the religious soul, but rather takes them over. Whereas pagan prayer often goes astray in its search for an object and incarnates it in an illusory god, Christian piety is directed to the Father of Jesus Christ, to God, the Three in One. But it is the full range of the religious instinct that, once directed toward its true goal, find there its fulfillment.” pg. 29-31 “God And Ways of Knowing” by Jean Danielou
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