"Because of the social utility and therapeutic value of the belief in a personal God, it seems very doubtful whether a purely humanistic religion can ever make any headway outside of university centers."
Anton Boisen, “The Exploration of the Inner World”, pg. 177 (via mysteriumkeeper)
Counter example: Confucianism which has had more followers and influenced more people than Christianity. Also, Theravada and Zen Buddhism, and Taoism.
(via existenceandidentity) But i’d argue that in each of those cases the religion was supplemented by most people with a variety of personal deities, and semi-divine beings.
The cultural deities of the East are typically not comforting deities or deities that one can have a relationship with, not even ancestor worship fits that theological context. They’re actually rather flat as far as their “personalities” go. The only deities that come close are Amitabha Buddha of the Pure Land schools of Buddhism (not Theravada or Zen which are rival schools) and Guan Yin who is both a goddess and a bodhisattva (but again not in Theravada or Zen schools) In fact, I would argue that none of the deities of Eastern cultures are of the same type as the Western concept of God and do not “fit” the context of the original quote.
I’ll agree that in East Asian contexts the nature of deity is different than some of the Judeo-Christian concepts but I would still argue they are personal. There are many Eastern deities that are quite personal, even in the sense the author of the quote meant. Hinduism is a veritable smorgasbord of personal deities of that type (Krishna comes to mind immediately), and I would argue that Eastern Chinese deities are even MORE personalistic then the Judeo-Christian concepts, because they often are based on actual people who were deified either shortly after their death or in the course of elaborating their legend over time.
As for the idea that the personal God of Judaism and Christianity is “comforting”, I don’t think that defines all of the many views of her and it also doesn’t really matter as far as personal is concerned. A personal God can be terrifying (read Sinners in the hands of an Angry God), as well as or instead of comforting. What makes the personal conception of God personal is that they are self conscious and they are relational, they communicate and interact with (specific) humans on an individual level. Most Eastern gods fit that characterization. (via franiel32)
You still ignore that these traditions mentioned, especially Confucianism, Zen and Theravada Buddhism, do not rely on deities whatsoever. Which disproves the original conclusion: that humanistic traditions can’t exist outside of university centers. And the original quote mentions the therapeutic aspects of a personal god, something that is missing in most East Asian deities, with the exception of Hinduism.