Uniting role of religion in society from the Сhristian realism's point of view
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religion, society, contrition, collective egoism, millennialism, Christian realism, Reinhold Niebuhr

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Brynov, V. (2020). Uniting role of religion in society from the Сhristian realism’s point of view. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, 1(1), 191-204. https://doi.org/10.35423/2078-8142.2020.1.14


The article considers the role of religion, as a social ideology, from the Christian realism of Reinhold Niebuhr’s point of view. It is investigated that religion impacts on society through the changes in individual’s system of values. It is established that the public good of religion is determined by the demonstration of the spirit of contrition, which prevents individual egoism and pride. The role of love as an enhancing factor in close social relations is described. It is shown that asceticism has religious roots, but egoistic and selfish nature, depending on understanding term of sin. It is established that religion has limited influence on society due to the individualistic nature of the relationships between God and the individual. The reason of the limited religion influence is the greater power of collective egoism, comparing with individual virtues. It is determined that idealistic religious communities in a society demonstrate three main patterns of behavior: indifference, defeatism, and sentimentality. Indifference of religious communities is the result of attitude to society as too involved in sins and evil, to be able to get salvation. Defeatism considers that public social morality is the same as religious morality, and tries to take religious categories of good and evil into social relations. It asks for absolute moral categories in society, and such idealism leads to despair due to obvious contrast between absolute and real. People who think as indifferentists and defeatists, make distinction between holiness and virtues of God, and human secular societies. They consider leaving this world to God’s judge, not to salvation. From other hand, sentimentalists derive from modern social optimism and beliefs into civilization’s capability to build ideal society by evolutionary way. They also think that society doesn’t need salvation because it is good enough to build ideal civilization. Sentimentalism is fruit of liberal theology, and its problem is obscuring social inequalities and cruelties of the world. Though sentimentalists expect to get millennial age evolutionary, all other ideologies, except liberal humanists, are waiting millennial age through apocalypse or God’s revelation. The religious nature of millennial and apocalyptic expectations in all ideologies is demonstrated.

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Niebuhr, R. (1960). Moral Man and Immoral Society. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.

Grenz, S., Olson, R. (2011). Twentieth Century Theology. Cherkasy: Kollokvium. [Іn Russian].

Schleiermacher, F. (1994). On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers. Saint-Petersburg: Aleteja. [In Russian].

Shopenhauer, A. (1993). The World as Will and Representation, vol.1. Mos-cow: Nauka. [Іn Russian].

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