There are thousands of different religions in the world: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Rastafarianism, Spiritualism, Santeria, Christian Science, the Unification Church, Neo-Paganism, Baha’i etc. Each of them is based on particular concepts and rules. In addition, every religion has a particular purpose, “each people use religion to serve a number of purposes” (Mandelbaum 1174). Moreover, each religion has its functions, “the one complex is geared to the transcendental function of religion” (Mandelbaum 1174).
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What does it mean “a transcendental religion”? Briefly, it can be describes as a religion based on concept that the god is above everything, he is the most powerful and completely separated from people and the processes of creation. Thus, according to a transcendental religion, the god is transcendental. Indeed, every religion is transcendental to some extent, but some of them are more transcendental and some are less transcendental.
As for me, among all religions the most transcendental ones are Christianity and Baha’i. As it is well known, Christianity has 5 main branches: Roman Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Anglicans and Protestants. Each of them is divided into sub-groups. It is pretty hard to define the most transcendental religion out of all of these groups. However, to my opinion, the Lutheran religion is the most transcendental.
Thus, in this paper, I am going to provide evidences that Lutheran religion is the most transcendental out of all branches of Christianity. Furthermore, I am going to compare it to the Roman Catholic Religion as second the most transcendental religion to my opinion.
I think that Christian religion is one of the most transcendental ones due to the attributes that it ascribes to God. Thus, according to Christian beliefs, God is self-existent because He has no cause and does not depend on anything; He is imminent because He is present everywhere in the world, but he is also transcendent, as distinct from the universe. God is immutable because He is perfect and never change, thus He is also eternal, as His transcendentalism and perfectness are infinite.
According to Christian beliefs, God is omnipresent and perfect as he transcends all space and spatial limitations. God “is thus infinite with respect to space” (“The Attributes of God” n. p.), and His all being is filling every fraction of the universe and every being living in it. Furthermore, God is omnipotent, as he cannot be self-contradictory and He cannot do anything that is that is opposite to his perfect nature, such as He cannot lie nor do evil.
God is omniscient as He knows all things and all events that happened and that will happen in future. God is incorporeal, as He is a spirit and has no body. God is “One”, in other words, He is perfectly unique, simple and very complex at the same time. He presents the unity of Father, Son and Holly Spirit. Although transcendental, God is creator, he is the one that created all things by his power and knowledge, he created people, animals and the universe as a whole.
In Christian religion God is personality, He is very personal in his relationships with other persons. God is also incomprehensible because his knowledge and perfectness cannot be fully and directly understood by finite creatures. God is morality, thus God is morally perfect, He knows what to do and when. He has no hesitations and there is no tension between His wrath and love ((“The Attributes of God” n. p.). Thus, we can see that Christian God is a unique creature and all His attributes are transcendental.
The degree of “transcedentiality” of a particular religion is defined by the way this religion considers God. Transcended God is beyond understanding and perception, completely independent of the universe and has a wholly “otherness”. In different religions, there are different approaches to transcendent god. The transcendence can be affirmed through the concept of the divine nature of god. The major features of transcendence in Christianity are trinity, veracity and wrath.
However, some branches of this religion confess that god is transcendence and immanent at the same time, though others do not acknowledge the immanent nature of god and rely only on his divine features and attributes. One of such religions is Lutheranism that presents a major branch of the Western Christianity.
The theory of this religion is based on the theology of Martin Luther. I believe that Lutheranism is the most transcendental religion as it has features that other highly transcendental religions have. The principles of this religion are centered over the theories of justification that God is one and unique, he is completely transcendent and possesses divine grace. Lutheranism is “known as a doctrinal and even dogmatic church” (“Lutheranism, Lutheran Church” n. p.).
Thus, the main features of Lutheran transcendentalism are encompassed in the way Lutherans understand god. According to Lutheran concept, “people are made right with God sola gratia and sola fide – that is, only by the divine initiative of grace as received through God’s gift of faith” (“Lutheranism, Lutheran Church” n. p.). So, God cannot be understood He exceeds the boundaries of ordinary knowledge and experience. God divinity has no limits and He exists above the universe. The Lutheran approach based on exclusive opposites.
Lutheran God is entirely transcendent, He is unique and completely different from creations. Lutheran beliefs are based on deism (although these concepts were not the view of Luther, however, they have much in common). Thus, God is a “clockmaker” and creator, however, while He set the Universe, He lives it to operate without his interference. God is put into opposition contrast with all that is ordinary, thus, there is a strict distinction between notions “creator” and “creation”.
Consequently, there is a radical break with His creations (Leininger 3). Lutheran transcendence can be understood through the attitude to sin and salvation. Thus, there are no strict rules that define the impeccability. Salvation is the God’s decision, “Christ saves each believer separately by her personal act of faith. Tends toward individualism” (Leininger 3).
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Thus, salvation can be achieved only through faith. People are not capable to understand God and His decisions, thus, “Scripture alone provides humans with true knowledge of God’s revelation” (Leininger 3). According to Lutheran doctrines, faith must be also transcendent, in other words, “Faith is receptivity, receiving Christ and all that he has done. It is not man’s accomplishment that effects his justification before God” (“Lutheranism, Lutheran Church” n. p.).
Lutheran religion can be compared to another highly transcendent branch of Christianity, Western Catholicism. I consider Western Catholicism the second most transcend religion as it has all features of transcendent religions and manifests a transcendent God. Although, Lutheranism is a branch of Western Catholicism, they have considerable distinctions. Thus, as opposed to Lutheranism, Catholicism suggests that God is “both transcendent (beyond creation) and immanent (present within creation)” (Leininger 3).
Furthermore, it rejects the concept of deism that creation is a one-time event. Thus, creation is a dynamic process and God is present in every creation and thus He is present in everything people see and hear around them. God is a part of the universe. In addition, Western Catholicism is focusing on the “analogical or sacramental imagination” (Leininger 5). Thus, God is not put in opposition with “ordinary”, and there is continuity and connection between creator and creation.
Finally, in Lutheran religion, human nature is “completely sinful”, but Catholicism emphasizes that “Human nature is both good and sinful. Humans are created in God’s image” (Leininger 5). Each person has a “spark” of God’s divinity, thus God is inside every human being. Finally, according to Western Catholicism, people should work to gain salvation as faith and reason are closely incorporated.
There is a distinction between faith and works, but for “Lutheranism, faith and works certainly cannot be separated; however, they must be distinguished” (“Lutheranism, Lutheran Church” n. p.).
Thus, we can see that Lutheranism and Western Catholicism are among the most transcendent religions. Both of them are the branches of Christianity that manifests a transcendental god. However, I suggest that Lutheranism is the most transcendental religion because it separates people from God.
According to Lutheranism, God is above the human understanding and beyond the boundaries. He is completely other than his creations and, thought created the universe, He left it on its own. Western Catholicism is less strict in its understanding on God and provides that God is immanent and present in every being and in every thing.
Leininger, Madeleine. “Martin Luther vs. Catholic Tradition”. The Period of Reform and the Modern Period. Web.
“Lutheranism, Lutheran Church”. Believe. Web.
Mandelbaum, David G. “Transcendental and Pragmatic Aspects of Religion” American Anthropologist New Series 68.5 (1966):1174-1191.
“The Attributes of God: What Are the Attributes of God?” Christian Research Institute. Web.