Definitions of Religion and Transcendent Discourse in Religion


Definitions of religion vary. They are rarely empirically based but rather seek to highlight a desirable feature of religious practice. Some have tried to make religion a more scientific concept by characterizing it as a “relational relationship between the ideal and the actual”. Others, such as Dewey, have tried to describe religion as “what a man does with his solitariness.” A fourth definition of religion, by Westermark, describes it as “a man’s regardful attitude toward a supernatural being”.

Religious experience

Religious experience is an encounter with the divine or with other persons or things. Although we might not see a divine being in a religious experience, we are nonetheless aware of holiness, rightness, and presence. Each experience has a specific meaning, bringing a sense of goodness and new content to our lives. Consequently, our experience of religion leaves a distinct trace in our lives.

Religious experience is a complex phenomenon that includes various dimensions and aspects. It reflects a total reaction to life. It involves concerns about the meaning of one’s existence and an attempt to integrate the personality. Hence, religious experience is an important topic in phenomenology.

Institutional structures

The institutional structures of religion are often shaped by the social context in which they are formed. They are made up of a number of different organizational forms, including sects, denominations, and ecclesia. Some of these types of structures are self-conscious, while others are not. Regardless of their forms, religious institutions shape the content and practices of their congregations.

In particular, these organizations benefit from pre-existing resources and infrastructure. In addition, these organizations can mobilize the focus on the eternal, which can provide powerful lenses to recognize injustice and evaluate the world through a divine standard.

Transcendental discourse

Transcendent discourse in religion is a term that refers to a philosophical perspective that moves beyond the limits of the finite realm. These views are often associated with a divine being who cannot be conceived as material or temporal. The term “transcendent” is an abstract concept that is difficult to conceptualize, yet people rely on it for a variety of reasons.

The term “transcendent” has many definitions, and the concept is often used to mean “universal.” For instance, a divine being might have a different appearance for different people than a person who practices that religion. In this case, the transcendental object would be a “syncretistic” religion that would provide an in-depth knowledge of the Ultimate Reality.