The Human Being as Believer and Citizen: a Christian Point of View
A short premise on religion
To speak of human being as believer means to enter the field of religion, for which we need to fix a sufficiently defined meaning, since the term has for a long time been subject to disagreement, changes of content, and re-interpretation. According to the fundamental meaning of the term as traditionally elaborated, religion is the place of relationship between man and God, not a symbol of interests or important aims. Religion is re-ligio, that is something that links infinity and the finite, transcendence and man, the indication of a nexus for which man appears as a being turned upwards. The liberating powers of religion are rooted in the following characteristics: its capacity for reconciliation; its recognition of the lordship of God; its interest in real dialogue; its capacity to produce new practices in favour of mankind; the importance attributed to values in comparison with purely power-seeking strategies, are some of these aspects. If, as the Iranian jurist and scholar Ostad Elahi puts it, ‘The fulcrum of Knowledge is that man understands why he has come into the world, what his duties of existence are, and what his final destiny is’ , then it is in religion that we encounter a fundamental understanding of what is necessary for us. Individuals and civilisations are in relationship with God in many different ways, and from this relationship they draw the essentials of their value systems. There are periods of intense religiosity, and others more profane, but all periods stay ‘in front of God’, in His presence.