05 August 2009

J. L. Martyn: A Human Enterprise

Religion . . . is the various communal, cultic means . . . by which human beings seek to know and to be happily related to the gods or God. In the sense in which I employ the word here, religion is a human enterprise. Thus, in Paul's view, religion is the polar opposite of God's apocalyptic act in Christ. . . . Religion, therefore, provides the human being 'with his most thorough-going possibility of confusing an illusion with God.'

This was what Paul came to see as he traveled to Damascus (Gal 1:13-14; Phil 3:6).

--J. Louis Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul (T&T Clark, 1997), 79; quoting Ernst Kaesemann

1 comment:

ErinOrtlund said...

Dane, these two posts on religion are right on target. I'm reminded of how, in the ANE that Israel grew up in, sacrifice was thought of feeding the gods in the sense that, if sacrifice was not done, the gods would starve (which is actually what happened in Mesopotamian flood stories). In other words, there's a kind of give-and-take in ANE religion: we scratch the gods' backs and put them in a position where they do what we want. Christians can take the same posture with God, of course. -Eric