I. General Treatment: (§ 1). Inner Experience Necessary. A knowledge of religion can express only the individual's participation in it. Those to whom it is foreign will either confess ignorance of it, or will declare it to be an illusion, to be resisted or used. If it be regarded as an illusion, it is taken as an accumulation of human fears and as the cultivation of such delusions in order to conceal the fate producing them. This explanation finds support in the fact that the reality of which religion speaks is not to be discovered in the experience before whose necessities human aspiration and concern must remain silent. It can also not be concealed that religion, while transcending this experience accessible to all, is intimately connected with inner human needs. Naturally the charge that religion originates from them is regarded by religion itself as a hostile act; but to refute it with arguments so as to convince every one is not possible. It is not even desirable; for were this possible, an antithesis upon which the life of religion itself depends would disappear; the antithesis of its mystery with the profane. However, religion can otherwise meet the effort to reduce it to an illusion. Where realized as an awakening from illusions, its purpose to be unreservedly veracious can not remain unrecognized in its environment. It fortifies itself outwardly by acquiring inner firmness and clearness, capable of challenging from without inquiry concerning its truth. It can then make reply to everyone who states that religion is an illusion of human necessity by saying that he fails to know its real life. Those who prefer to regard religion as either conscious or unconscious self-deception are not to be convinced by argument; but an those who have experienced religion as an internal conquest of self-deception stand on the common ground of possessing, and of being capable of possessing, knowledge of religion. Religion can be apprehended only by participating in it. In this respect it is no worse off than every purely historical phenomenon, whose origin, unlike a simple fact of nature, can not be pursued farther than to the inner processes in particular individuals. Such a phenomenon can be grasped only as one coexperiences the inner processes in which it is rooted. As a parallel, he who from native resources is incapable of contributing to the creation of the state, is unable to know what the state is. This is preeminently characteristic of religion, which will appear the more evident the more the source of its vital energy is discovered in contrast with all other historical phenomena.
(§ 2). Science of Religion Possible? It is true of religion beyond all other empirical life that it affords no objective perception. Historical phenomena, however, approximate the objectivity of demonstrable reality in proportion as, in their origin, universally disseminated and tangible psychological tendencies of the human soul-life cooperate. This is true, in a high degree, of the State, for by those who come to regard the same as an illusion of despotism, not only are their active in- terest and a sense of the dignity of the State sacrificed, but in addition certain natural tendencies exercised in political conduct. Religion in its realization makes requisition upon all the motives of life, but that in which it enters life can not be apprehended as a product of those powers and is to be viewed only as an incident. The field of religious perception is therefore introspection, and to deduce the nature of religion from the comparison of a multitude of examples results in self-deception. For, first, no one to whose life religion is foreign can possibly realize how it determines in others the character to assert itself. Secondly, he who is religiously conscious can only rediscover in others traces of his own, perhaps retarded or transposed, perhaps developed in a degree impossible to him. He who could properly estimate the religions in history would have to possess a view of his own, unsatisfiable by anything else. But if such has grown out of his own religious life only and he can not impart it in the form in which he possesses it, there is no possibility for a science of religion. For science is the knowledge of an objective or demonstrable actuality. But neither what religion proposes to be for itself nor the actuality which it envelops is so constituted that others can be led by proof to perceive anything in it but suppositions. This opinion of the situation begins to spread at the present time. Striking is its appearance in that quarter where an effort is held forth to produce an assumed science of religion; i.e., in comparative religion. One of its advocates remarks as follows: "It is self-evident that a real understanding of religion is only possible if the different religions are studied entirely impartially and purely from the historical standpoint" (E. Troeltsch, Die Philosophie im Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts, i. 134, 1904). "Impartial" study is here utterly impossible; for what religion presumes to be, or the reality it asserts, is evident only to him who in his own existence attains to religious life. His own religious self-existence is filled in every impulse with an incommunicable conviction. A man thus knowing religion in the reality asserted by itself, opposed to others in his personal conviction, is from the outset partizan, and is qualified for the inner fellowship which unites human beings altogether differently from the grouping of objective perception, or science. If, for instance, in the attempt at comparative generalization the various elements of simple supernaturalism of all religions be disregarded, the philosophy of religion has on the whole lost its subject. But if upon the assumed science of religion be imposed the recognition of all these in any other sense than psychological fact, namely, in the sense of thoughts arising from inner conviction, and if religion is treated in accordance with what it claims to be, the result is no longer science, whose deductions are universally accepted, where the powers of intellectual culture have developed, but theology, which, by means of scientific logic, seeks to describe and clarify the religious content prevalent within a particular life-circle. The philosophy of religion that would be adequate to religion is from the outset theology; for no one released from his own individual position can have a conception of the reality of religion.
(§ 3). Comparative Method. A correct sense of the essence of religion contracts considerably the significance of comparative religious history. If religion appears to us only by what it self-evidently is in us, no solution can be expected by a retrospect of historical examples of religions so-called. So much is admitted. But not so much the religious processes as the primitive forms of religion are to be determined, and types abstracted from these are to afford the understanding of the higher religions. That little was to be accomplished over against the higher religions with the categories of the history of religion as hitherto wrought out from the materials of primitive forms is not surprising, seeing that whoever would understand and estimate religion must first know its natural and intact reality. But it is likewise admitted that such research is unconcerned about what religion is in itself, what phenomena are primary, what secondary, or what have nothing to do with religion. A science that contents itself thus can only incidentally contribute anything to throw light on religion of the higher order, and the acknowledgment that it has accomplished little to this effect is not unexpected. It is also difficult to perceive how a correction of ethnological material, the original significance of which is unknown, can ever provide safe contributions to the understanding of religion. The history of religion can not establish the understanding of religion, for this it presupposes. If it thus fails, it reduces itself to a mere collection of ethnological curios. He who by virtue of his own religious life can view that of others may become aware of the limitations of his own; but the analysis of a religious manifestation in another can not furnish him with the understanding of religion on the whole, much less can the pursuit of highly improbable generalities among the remnants of primitive development. Whoever attempts to make religion an object of scientific knowledge or to include it in the demonstrable reality of things, has either no clear idea of religion or does not know what science is. All that science touches is dead.* Religion is life. It is absurd that one should experience the reality of the living spirit and then surrender this to science, which it transcends, as if it did not deserve real worth until science had passed it through its process. In biology just as soon as life is treated within the scope of conceivable reality it has ceased to be life and has become mechanism; so with religion. Personal piety does not originate from an heirloom, but is vital in its origin. To aim to apprehend it in a categorical correlation with another is to annul it for oneself.
*Is not botany a science, and do not flowers live? Similarly it may be remarked that anthropology is a science, and so of other branches of knowledge. Modern opinion is decidedly trending against the assumption that the application of scientific study to religion is either barred or impossible. Indeed, theologians are growing more favorable to science as furnishing aid in establishing a firmer basis for theology.
(§ 4). Introspection. The first thing encountered in an examination of subjective experience is its state of concealment. The field of inquiry is, for the pious, his inner life, and the community where individuals of similar inner experience approach each other in confidence. Religion is actual only in the examination of inner states in which the subject distinguishes himself from the world of experience, which is correlated by law and admissible to all. This takes place by attention to the inner processes which afford a sense of the self-existence and exclusiveness of the subjective life. The intuition of the inner life is made possible by the desire for self-expression. In the exercise of will the conscious living being distinguishes between that which it includes with its self-existence and that which it deducts from self, so as to be aware of that activity and of that which it puts in relation with itself; therefore in its fear and hope, in its hate and love, the human subject obtains a perception of its inner life. In this inner private order, in distinction from the universal outer order, the fact of religion is to be sought. This does not mean that religion is the product of the desire of self-assertion; no man is pious who includes self-seeking in what he regards as religion. Genuine piety involves voluntary passiveness to truth and reality. Religion can not arise from desire but from the recognition of the actual, or knowledge. Here begins also science; but no scientific knowledge however sublimated can belong to the forces of the religious life; for that lies in the open light, this wells up in the undisclosed. But the knowledge in which only religion can subsist is of a peculiar kind. It is not the apprehension of the objectively actual but reflection upon subjective experience. The disadvantage appears here over against objective knowledge, in that conformity with law in relation to the latter facilitates the discrimination of truth from appearance. As to the former, on the contrary, there is no method of discrimination that may illustrate itself by comparison with others, for there is no formal unity of the representations according to law, such as obtains for the universal. Only this remains to consider, how the clear certainty of genuine experiences springs up, which is capable of guarding against evanishment in the further development of life. To promote this, it is not necessary as in objective cognition to set bounds to the will of self-expression so that cognition be not interfered with, for the activity of this volition alone creates scope for subjective experience; but security against deception is to be gained here in that the will of self-expression becomes really true in itself.
(§ 5). Telic Consciousness; Freedom. The veritableness of volition or desire consists in the unchangeableness of the end or aim assumed by the conscious willing subject out of its own knowledge. A real willing occurs only where the subject connotes all that he undertakes in time in a supreme voluntary act which possesses an eternal end. But in no momentary act of self-expression can the individual regard his existence as eternally warranted; hence in every act of will another element acts in combination with the impulse, namely, the consciousness of its final object. The abstraction from momentary self-existence and concentration upon the eternal purpose reflects the dawn of the consciousness of the human will unchangeable. An inner life of a higher order with an imperishable content is the result. This will grounded upon the eternally valid is the ethical sense. In the true willing of the ethical, positive self-denial becomes self-expression. What is directly willed is not the life of the soul, but the overcoming of mere appearance in obedience to the truth and in the tendency of the telic aim. The first impulses of ethical perception lead the soul toward the consciousness of freedom. This is attained not in a state of individual seclusion but in society amid the stream of historical life. Contact with morally awakened fellow beings stimulates confidence and respect, the experience of which is the dawn of moral perception in every human being. A true power of will is born in him who, in the experience of a love which concerns itself for him, becomes conscious of a state of life in men, imperceptible to sense, and has confidence in them. But in this the capacity of religious experience has come into being. When that is earnestly practised which is given in this conduct of trust, there is a sense of being possessed of a power affording an experience of something otherwise entirely remote. This wonder has oftentimes been conceived and described in its glory. Wherever religion has given itself expression the wonder has at least been touched upon. The incomparable boon given in the impulse of trust is the inner situation in which the human subject may be wholly overwhelmed. Men in whom this is not possible are isolated by their inner exclusiveness. It is a rescue from darkness to approach a power that has open access to the soul. This takes place the moment in which one bows in trust and reverence before the beneficence of a personality, which becomes noticeable by the act of transfixing one in the motive of those impulses. Release from deadly isolation, or unfree selfishness, is possible if in trust in a person one becomes conscious of him so as to impose an unconditional requirement upon himself. Naturally one confides in another only so far as the other inspires the conviction that he is not self-seeking, but acts in obedience to an absolute command given by the singleness of his willing. But there must also arise in the subject the recognition of the unconditionally necessary to which his will adheres, or candid trust becomes impossible. As one trusts another that he is inwardly true, he becomes such himself. As one sets up before himself what shall bind him eternally, there arises in him the sense of freedom, in which he realizes himself as wholly in submission.
(§ 6). Religion and God. The consciousness of freedom emerging from the elementary ethical transaction is a condition of the life of religion. For reflection upon religion that is experienced reveals that therein one knows himself dependent upon a power from which there is no escape. A human being who finds himself in the movement of history, because by voluntary service to others he is promoted to confidence and therefore to ethical perception, is on the way to religion, if the challenge to unqualified reality embraces also those individual experiences. Only in the complete contemplation of all the real can God be approached. Religion can be a blessed certainty only to one who can uprightly confess that when he found it he confronted naught but reality in all its terrors. Most important of all experiences must be that in which that power by which man is conscious of being wholly vanquished becomes distinct. This becomes possible only where, by voluntary service of others, one arrives at ethical self-determination, or the experience of love. Were there in a man no echo of grateful respect to others, he would be God-forsaken. Only from recollections which awaken in the soul does the irresistible inward-ruling power arise. But this experience vanishes again when much appears in the same person that militates against such confidence. Men themselves afford the means, in the ascent to ethical knowledge, of comparing them with that which reveals their human limitations. Religion becomes real in that moment when the spiritual power already known in experience is abstracted from the individual places of revelation and asserts itself for human consciousness as a self-existent life which answers to pure submission in human experience. How this transpires is unknown, but where it occurs it means, first, the surrender to the power of the good, or morality, and also the revelation of God as the power from which there is no escape and which reveals itself as seeking love. It is the same power that, in individual impulses to confidence, moves man to humility and benevolence, but is now extended as omnipotent goodness over all existence.
(§ 7). Regeneration. To make the power or the certainty of religion more evident one must not only consider its source but also its operation. It was a felicitous step when the Reformers designated faith or obedience to the experienced revelation of God as regeneration. With every closer approximation of the inner life to God, affording a new and deeper grounding of faith in him, the certainty of religious assurance advances. The spiritual power which overcomes man in this act of self-surrender ever carries him beyond the previous limits of his strength. Every moment in which man is inwardly possessed, God is to him the one who rules supremely in all the depths of his being; and yet, at the same time, he is brought to the full realization of his inward autonomy. The inner self-existence of the truly vital is possessed only as one breaks through the confines within which he moved before. That which is retained of the past the blind instinct of self-preservation of the natural life attempts to assert. Therefore in every vital impulse death is prepared. But to find God means the overcoming of this fate. During every moment experienced in religious progress, whose import is regarded as of divine operation, the old and lifeless is simply discarded so that there is nothing to assert itself against the spiritual power that ever effects new miracles of complete victory and free submission.
(§ 8). Summary. The essence of religion is the awakening of man to self-contemplation. The first vital impulse is reverence for the real. A further step is the reflection upon one's utmost experience, the inquiry concerning the might in whose power all are. This proves to be the power which alone overcomes him, gains possession of his inmost self, and approaches in beneficence to humiliate him and sacrifice itself for him. Total realization of religion follows when, in the divine revelation received by experience, this spiritual power abstracts itself from the times and places of its manifestation, and becomes the sum of life. Then religion consists in intercourse with God, which is the immanence of the omnipotence of God and the obedience of a full submission that would conceive his presence and accept his command in every experience. The operation of religion in man is to the effect that the enemies of life are overcome and eternal life is imparted to him. This eternal life means not endless time-space but power to vanquish death, a life whose days are creative and whose inner riches overflow its environment as love and goodness. All vital religion in history requires to resolve itself again and again upon these simple fundamentals of all true religion. Its wholeness involves also the grateful respect for the human and for men through whom it is connected with the creative power of God. A fatal danger in connection with this is the temptation, in regarding the mediators of redemption, to overlook redemption, even God himself. In Christianity this danger is averted if Jesus Christ becomes known to men in his actuality and in the undeniable power of his inner life. For then, and only then, is piety toward him submission to the one God.
II. Special Methods of Study: (§1). Possible Modes of Studying Religion. Even if there be a secret and incommunicable element in religious experience, this does not preclude a legitimate inquiry into the place and nature of religion in human historical life. The departments into which this investigation naturally falls are the history, science, psychology, and philosophy of religion. Religion has embodied itself in customs, institutions, and ideals, and may therefore be studied in its historical conditions. It is, moreover, subject to the same laws of scientific explanation as are other human facts. As a matter of inner personal experience, it is amenable to psychological analysis and description. So far as religion involves a theory of reality-of first cause and final end, of the grounds of knowledge and the validity of the ideal, of man's relation to ultimate Being and to the infinite future-it invites the aid of philosophy and metaphysics. In actual practise these four depart-ments can not be so separated that one is treated irrespective of the others; the divisions which are logical and made for convenience tend continually to fade out or to merge one into the other.
(§ 2). History of Religion. The history of religion deals with religious facts as facts. At every point the human race as it emerges in history already practises religion. Of the religious life of prehistoric man many facts are indeed hopelessly lost, but many may still be recovered by the aid of archeology, ethnology, historic peoples in undeveloped condition, and analogy (see COMPARATIVE RELIGION, II.-V.). The aim here is to bring to description every custom, ordinance, myth, doctrine, and institution which rises in or expresses the religious feeling. The particular historian may conceive as his task to present these in concrete images without attempt at analysis or even at correlation (so Herodotus, in his "History"); or his purpose may be to fit these facts into a scheme of religious interpretation (Herbert Spencer, Principles of Sociology, London, 1882). As a result of this historical process, three facts stand out; that religion is a social phenomenon, that its object or objects are personal even though in the form of symbols, and that its development is associated with objects so different in form that no one of these can be held to be essential to religion.
(§ 3). Science of Religion. The science of religion is concerned with explanation of the facts provided by historical inquiry. Its field is the same as that of the history of religion-beliefs, customs, institutions, and ideals which have been determined by man's relation to the supernatural. It is to be observed, however, that it considers religious phenomena only on their human side; it is in no way concerned with the reality of God and his self-revelation, with the truth of man's relation to God, or with the ground of his hopes. The science of religion treats its material after the manner of other sciences. It makes use of psychology as disclosing the nature of consciousness; of sociology as occupied with social relations; of anthropology as revealing the history of man. It involves judgments in arranging religions as lower and higher, and determining the various stages of religious development and degeneration, together with the aspects that are pathological; and the judgments must be impartial, i.e., not without prejudice but free from unscientific bias. This science of religion aims, through discovering the stages, the direction; and the laws of development, to determine under what conditions religion develops or deteriorates, and finally to ascertain what is essential to it. It is legitimate to seek for the highest type of religion, partly by disclosing the element common in all religions, and partly by tracing this sentiment as it embodies itself in those religions in which it has come to its freest and most natural expression (see COMPARATIVE RELIGION).
(§ 4). Psychology of Religion. Psychology opens a different pathway into the interpretation of religion. Inquiries here resolve themselves into various directions: the psychological origin of religion, the method and means of its development, the essential unity of the phenomena, the varieties which characterize these, and particular aspects of religious experience. Psychology traces the religious sentiment to the feeling of dependence, and the feeling of mystery or awe. The feeling of dependence involves ethical causality and teleology. In the feeling of mystery is involved reverence for the indefinitely great or the infinite. The process here is twofold: that .of "ejection," by which the self reads into the other (or God) the contents of its own feeling; and that of reading back into one's self both the known qualities of the other (or God) derived from the sense of dependence, and the unknown or mysterious qualities of God which give rise to the feeling of awe or reverence. This investigation of religion is confirmed by a study of the genesis of personal self-consciousness in the child. Religion is thus traced not to an instinct but to an impulse which is incapable of further analysis. In the development of religion, anthropology shows that no one thought-content is essential to religion, that the objects of religious sentiment are symbolic and yet ever personal, and that religion as an experience is a social phenomenon. The unity of religious experience is interpreted from the normal action of consciousness, in which appears the social nature of religion, the personal object of it, and the unfolding of this type of consciousness as a function of personal development wherein religion is seen to be an integral part of normal human consciousness. Its non-appearance in adult life is an indication of arrested development. The varieties of religious experience, whether normal or pathological, are referred to personal idiosyncrasies, due to expansive or repressive emotions, to ideas which arise from different philosophical postulates, and to alterations of personality which set up distinct or separate centers of action within the same individual. Psychology has also its inquiry concerning particular aspects of the religious life as, e.g., with reference to conversion as an adolescent phenomenon or as an adult experience, the nature of religious belief (J. B. Pratt, The Psychology of Religious Belief, New York, 1907), mysticism (W. James, Varieties of Religious Experience, ib. 1907), and the psychology of suggestion and the crowd (Boris Sidis, The Psychology of Suggestion, ib. 1909; E. A. Ross, Social Psychology, ib. 1908). In this field exploration has scarcely more than blazed the way, but already the work entered upon unconsciously by Augustine in his "Confessions," by Jonathan Edwards (q.v.) with clear purpose in his Treatise on the Religious Affections, and by Horace Bushnell (q.v.) in his Christian Nurture has produced results of massive and rewarding worth (cf. E. D. Starbuck, The Psychology of Religion, London, 1899; G. A. Coe, The Spiritual Life, New York, 1900; J. M. Baldwin, Social and Ethical Interpretations in Mental Development, ib. 1899; F. M. Davenport, Primitive Traits in Religious Revivals, ib. 1905; J. M. Baldwin, Dictionary of Philosophy and Psychology, ii. 458 sqq., ib. 1902; G. B. Cutten, The Psychological Phenomena of Christianity, ib. 1908. So far as religion is conceived of as consciousness of social values, it is an attitude, a "construct," built up through overt activities of primitive groups which were either spontaneous and playful or with reference to practical needs of the process of life, for the most part socially mediated. This view finds strong allies in ethnology and functional psychology. The activities and attitudes mutually condition each other, and their difference in different individuals and races is accounted for by reference to the varying social conditions in which they appear and of which they are products (cf. I. King, The Development of Religion, ib. 1910; E. S. Ames, The Psychology of Religious Experience, Boston, 1910).
(§ 5). Philosophy of Religion. The philosophy of religion assumes data drawn from the science of religion and seeks for the ultimate grounds of the beliefs there given, or by an epistemological process endeavors to prove the limitations of human knowledge and so found religion on revelation alone. As a name it has displaced "Natural Theology." It is susceptible of many kinds of treatment. (1) It may involve the problem of our real knowledge of the Absolute as opposed to agnosticism, to pure feeling, to immediate intuition, and to logical demonstration; the problem of the necessity of religion and the essential meaning of revelation; and the problem of the ultimate interpretation of the idea of religion in the identity of God and man as self-conscious Spirit, resulting in a moral idealism wherein is affirmed the unity of all spiritual life-of finite persons among themselves, and of these with the Infinite (cf. J. Caird, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion, Edinburgh, 1880). (2) The philosophy of religion may be restricted to theism. Accordingly, its aim is to establish the validity of belief in the supreme reality of the world or God. This is attempted from various points of view in harmony with the particular philosophical assumptions by which different writers are guided. Thus the inquiry is based wholly on revelation as the source of religion (H. Mansel, Limits of Religious Thought, London, 1858), upon evolutionary doctrine and personalism (J. Fiske, Idea of God, Boston, 1885), intuitional philosophy (S. Harris, The Philosophical Basis of Theism, New York, 1887), mystical idealism (C. B. Upton, Bases of Religious Belief, London, 1893), ethical considerations (A. Seth, Two Lectures on Theism, Edinburgh, 1897), transcendental idealism (J. Royce, The World and the Individual, New York, 1900-01; cf. A. Caldecott, Philosophy of Religion, ib. 1901). (3) The philosophy of religion may aim at a still wider scope and in so doing traverse most of the questions which arise in systematic theology. Thus it investigates the nature, origin, and development of religion, the nature and relations of man to a higher being, religion as a life both in what it offers and in what it realizes, the reconciliation of the ethical idea of God with the scientific and philosophical doctrine of the world, and the destiny both of things and of persons in their relation to the infinite and absolute self (cf. G. T. Ladd, Philosophy of Religion, ib. 1905). (4) The philosophy of religion may endeavor to establish the truth of its axiom of the conservation of value by considerations drawn from epistemology, psychology, and ethics (cf. H. Höffding, Philosophy of Religion, London, 1906).
C. A. BECKWITH.