Religious Idealism: Everything You Need to Know

This is a theory that proposes the existence of two realms of reality, God’s realm and the realm of humanity. Religious idealism has had a large influence on education. Early Christians were quick to understand that Christianity would do better if its supporters were given some form of systematic teaching about religious ideas. Thus, when they set up schools, they established them in models with which they were familiar. As a result, several Greek and Jewish ideas about the nature of God, society, and humanity went into the Christian schools, together with distinctly Christian ideas. 

The Church played the role of the creator and protector of schooling for centuries, and the generations that went to those schools were taught from the idealist point of view. The religious idealism of Christianity had the biggest influence on education throughout the history of the United States. However, idealism from other religions played a strong part in the global scenario of education. A good example of religious idealism in education is how the U.S., until recently, implemented biblical principles from the Christian scriptures into education.

Immanuel Kant’s book, Critique of Pure Reason, is an important work in this field that changed philosophy and religion forever. Kant focused on the supremacy of reason and maintained the idea that reason was the supreme authority before which all other authorities must be judged, including the esteemed authorities of religion and tradition. Kant tried rationally to ground human belief in real human freedom and, concurrently, in the mechanistic view of the natural world that Newtonian science involved. 

In other words, he tried to reconcile humanity’s highest values with modern science. But it came at a cost. Kent placed crucial ideas, such as God and freedom, in a separate, mysterious realm (he christened it the noumenal), separate from the world of science (which he called the phenomenal), thus defending God and freedom against the intrusion of the natural scientific view in which they appeared to have no place. In Kant’s own words, this was denying knowledge to accommodate faith.

Karl Barth’s work was also amongst other significant developments in the field of religious idealism. It involved Barth’s study of the teaching of St. Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, finding the relation between justification and social righteousness, and understanding how the Gospel was related to the poor’s oppression and the power of the state. The basis of Barth’s theology, later on, was his overwhelming conviction about the victorious reality of Christ’s resurrection, which he gained after he met Christoph Blumhardt – the Moravian preacher.

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