On the Concept of Religion
Explores what is meant by the concept of religion.
Intensive discussions in recent years have been devoted to the question of whether "religion" has a future. Many answer this question in the affirmative, pointing in justification to many kinds of signs of religion, new religions, interest in the world religions, psychological groups, etc. Behind all this, however, there lies the more difficult question: what is meant by "religion" in the first place? The answers given here are so various that it is no longer possible to arrive at a definition that is even roughly satisfactory. Distinguished authors such as Wilfred Cantwell Smith or Franz Tenbruck draw the conclusion that one should therefore abandon this concept completely, whereas others plead that one should retain it as an umbrella term. The problem remains that it is no longer possible to tie down a meaning that can be stated with any degree of precision.