The Main Types of Religion
So far in following Hegel we have confined discussion to the nature or ‘idea’ of religion in general. But religion ‘in general’ is of course a subjective notion, an abstraction from the concrete facts provided by the many and various religions which either still exist or have existed in the past, each of which possesses (or possessed) distinctive features of its own. The definite (or positive) religions, as Hegel views them, are the species, so to say, of which the former is the genus. The task of the historian of religions is to classify them, to relate them one to another (as far as may be possible), and to record their growth and development. His method will therefore be descriptive, but the descriptions themselves may very well involve assumptions, declared or undeclared, of a theoretic or philosophical kind, and Hegel’s own procedure, as I have said, is expressly that of a metaphysician. Thus he sees the history of religion as a process beginning in what he calls the religion of nature, but leading in the end to Christianity as the Absolute Religion in which the reconciliation (Versöhnung) of God and man — the leading motif, he maintains, of all religions — is fully achieved. Accordingly he holds that the true origin of religion is not to be sought merely in the empirical antecedents or conditions of its historical appearance and progress, but in the concept of religion itself as it exists logically (or in idea) in the Absolute Mind itself.
KeywordsMain Type Ultimate Reality Free Subjectivity Natural Religion Jewish Religion
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