Is there a difference between faith and religion?
Answer: Contemporary humans tend
to dichotomize both faith and spirituality from religion: “I have faith
in God but I am not religious” and/or “I’m spiritual but not
religious.” However, the Bahá’í Faith aims to integrate as closely as
possible both faith and spirituality with religion.
Starting definitions of “faith” and “religion” would be
helpful. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), the eldest son and successor of the
Prophet-Founder Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), and the authorized interpreter
of his teachings, gave this succinct definition: “ By faith is meant,
first, conscious knowledge, and second, the practice of good deeds”
(Bahá’í World Faith, p. 382). This definition also applies
As for religion itself, Bahá’u’lláh wrote: “Know thou that
they who are truly wise have likened the world unto the human temple.
As the body of man needeth a garment to clothe it, so the body of
mankind must needs be adorned with the mantle of justice and wisdom.
Its robe is the Revelation vouchsafed unto it by God” (Gleanings, p.
80).This garment has been renewed in our day with the advent of the
Bahá’í Faith (1844-).
The dichotomy of faith and spirituality from religion has occurred for
a variety of complex reasons. We live in a worldly,
materialistic society in which the vitality of belief in God has been
temporarily eclipsed, while paradoxically, a simultaneous
renewed interest in religion is clearly manifest. But the behaviour of
the fanatically religious and the perverse has also discredited
religion in the eyes of many.
As for the “I’m spiritual but not religious” New Agers, who
espouse a “higher power,” and various eclectic beliefs, we should
remind ourselves of the following: most of the spiritual practices we
find in the New Age movement can be traced to the world’s religions,
especially Hinduism and Buddhism and native spirituality , whether it
be yoga, prayer, meditation, mind-body harmony, and Gaia philosophy .
By contrast, each of the recognized world’s religions invites
commitment to its integral belief-and-value system. The world’s
religions generally do not subscribe to an “anything goes” moral
relativism, a pervasive feature of the current age, with its “I’m
spiritual but not religious” stance. -