The Absolute Religion: Christianity
The various types of religion which Hegel has so far considered are each and all of them no more than partial and fragmentary expressions of the universal religious consciousness. What they represent, in objective terms, is the process, both necessary and specific, whereby Spirit is at once self-disclosing and self-realised.1 Although, that is to say, they contain elements of the truth none in itself, or indeed all of them together, can be judged to have achieved that perfection or completeness of expression, that total conception (Begriff) of religion, ‘in which’, Hegel maintains, ‘it is the idea itself that is its own object’ (i.e. exists in and for itself, in totality of self-apprehension and understanding).2 For if in one aspect religion is man’s consciousness of God, in another it is God’s own consciousness of himself in man. On this Hegel is quite explicit. God, he states, knows himself in a consciousness which is distinct from himself, because finite consciousness is also implicitly his own.3 He distinguishes himself in order to be his own object, while remaining completely identical with himself in so doing. For this precisely is what is meant in speaking of God as Spirit. Hence the perfect religion is that in which the divine self-consciousness is fully attained. This religion, and this only, merits the designation absolute, because here Absolute Being finds its complete reflection. When we look for it in history Christianity alone is seen to embody the ideal.
KeywordsChristian Theology Religious Believer Christian Religion Spiritual Community Christian Doctrine
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