“Religion 1. in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man’s obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man’s accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion. 2. Religion as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law. 3. Religion as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law. 4. Religion is any system of faith and worship.”–Webster’s American Dictionary
  St. Augustine of Hippo, following the interpretation given by Lactantius in Divinae institutiones, IV, 28 derived religio from re (again) and ligare to bind, to connect: “We have said that the name of religion is derived from the bond of piety, because God has tied man to Himself, and bound him by piety; for we must serve Him as a master, and be obedient to Him as a father.”–Lactantius
  Religion is the term we use to designate God in action as the activity of manifestation. Religion includes all that is. Religare, “to bind back,” implies a doorway, the upright posts bound to the lintel. When you bind yourself to the plumblines of Law, you pass from worldly thinking into God consciousness. This is true religion. Religion is a law of being (you must be religious), a law of doing (you must practice your religion), and a Via Christa Degree: Religion, Inspiration and Justice form the second lesser trinity of Via Christa Degrees, whose keynote is Giving.–Via

Edna Lister on Religion

Your practice of religion should make your life radiant and beautiful.–Edna Lister, Sermon on the Mount, February 1, 1933

Religion is not lugubrious seriousness; it unfolds to you in smiles and joy.–Edna Lister, March 12, 1942

Regardless of the beliefs people hold about religion, their points of view and ways of life, you must realize that everyone is right in the place where he stands now, and we are all from the Source of All Life.–Edna Lister, February 14, 1946

Your daily life is your temple and your religion. Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his beliefs from his occupation?–Edna Lister, May 22, 1952

Agnostics and atheists already dwell in the love of God, but do not know it. They dislike creeds because the righteous have tried to force feed them religion. After they leave earth, many go to God sooner than some of the world’s religious souls.–Edna Lister, The Living Chalice, December 7, 1952

Religion is the scientific study of the principles and laws governing your relationship to God, the whole, and to man, the many parts. The practice of religion is the application of general laws to fit your personal needs. The savage cowers in the cave of doubts and fear until the storm passes. Neutral souls just go to church, for which they receive credits, and try to ride to heaven on Jesus. A few assume complete personal responsibility and apply law.–Edna Lister, Religious Slavery or Freedom? November 27, 1955

One day, science and religion, all religious denominations shall agree.–Edna Lister, November 28, 1955

You can discard any religion that does not recognize Jesus as the Christ, and the tenets he taught in the Sermon on the Mount.–Edna Lister, February 5, 1957

Humanity wants a personal contact with God. Humanity’s objection is not to the personality of God, but to the contemporary religious picture of Him. God doesn’t need an oil can to fix the squeak, but we do. Humanity has no common religion because religion must satisfy many different grades of earthly intelligence. We all stand equal in that we each have twenty-four hours a day and the right to breathe. We are equal in our freedom to choose, but all occupy different degrees.–Edna Lister, The Point of No Return, December 15, 1957

We must build up a vibration so balanced that no room will exist for any misinterpretation, misrepresentation or imbalance. Science is balanced because we have objectively based it on facts; religion has always been unbalanced save for the rare individual who unerringly finds the way into the Light. The masses have no personal power to unfold truth in large doses. A bit here and there isn’t enough for them to fit it together. Irrelevancies and inconsistencies drive the intellectuals out as agnostics. So we must study all phases, accepting none as ultimate, but gleaning here and gleaning there the kernel of truth that will make a perfect whole eventually. As we search, we find, and the Master is with us constantly.–Edna Lister, May 16, 1958

Religion is our code of ethics, a plan for living together in perfect peace. Religion expresses our desires.–Edna Lister, As the World Sees Me, June 22, 1958

Religion is the unfolding of all material reality; it includes the synthesis of every particle of matter. In our work we call this ascension. Man ascends the scale of civilization, in science, in the business world. The whole process of life is based on ascension.–Edna Lister, Constancy in Obedience, October 26, 1958

The religious world is conscious that illness and negatives are the results of sin, though most religions generally do not call this spiritual debt. The debts people owe usually grow from personality traits. Those who prefer to live life without accepting personal responsibility, trying to find an “easy way,” have escapist personality traits. People who look for those who sin, ready to pin the record of sin on them, have blame and judgment traits and revenge motives.–Edna Lister, Visualization, May 17, 1959

Religion is a science. It must be practical, related to life and increase our understanding of God the Supreme.–Edna Lister, Feed My Sheep, November 22, 1959

Many people believe that religion is a kind of insurance policy for a far-off hereafter. They should realize that everyone makes his or her own “hereafter” in the “here and now.”–Edna Lister, Here and Hereafter, October 9, 1960

There will always be grades (degrees) of religious belief, but never a single religion of the masses.–Edna Lister, September 15, 1961

When religion and its insights catches up to the findings of science, we will have no war.–Edna Lister, December 17, 1961

The deficiency of the world religions is that their vows obligate them to no universal responsibility; their salvation is personal.–Edna Lister, December 10, 1962

Our religion is a scientific study of the laws of principle, the whole of what has been prepared for our ascension and protection.–Edna Lister, Love, Your Radar, November 17, 1963

The religion of Christed Ascension is based on “I shall be as perfect as my Father in heaven.” Do not spend your time looking at human nature.–Edna Lister, Unfolding Your Divine Inheritance, November 14, 1965

The Eastern mind-set is better prepared for ascension in some ways, for they are taught sacrifice of self and are accustomed to heeding and obeying orders. The Western societies are undisciplined to a great extent. Even the metaphysicians discipline themselves mildly, and in the churches almost not at all. They think about religion on Sunday, but do little or nothing at all the next week. Each has his own way of bridging the abyss to God consciousness. Religion is supposed to provide a bridge, but it must permeate your physical, mental and spiritual lives to cross the abyss. To succeed as a bridge, religion must be a way of life. Few souls choose that.–Edna Lister, June 24, 1966

Those who drag religion down to fit the low vibration of earth are living by the law of flesh. They forget that they must obey the laws of spirit also.–Edna Lister, Comprehension and Nonresistance, June 25, 1967

You can make a religion of doing something, or of following someone. Religion is the feeling or spiritual attitude of the individual. The manifestation of this feeling in conduct or way of life is pure religion. Religion is the scientific seeking an identity with something greater than the self.–Edna Lister, The Supremacy of Religion, October 15, 1967

Dogma and creeds too often distort pure religion.–Edna Lister, June 13, 1968

Both science and religion agree that the universe began as Light. The one thing science and religion disagree upon is the length of time it takes for Light to become substance.–Edna Lister, June 25, 1968

A lack of identity with your Source causes a lack of security on earth. To have a permanent identity, you need a permanent Source, which is the underlying reason for all peoples, nations, races, tribes, who need to worship. They must have a God, or a reason greater than self. We call this religion, and it must be the twin of science. Religion and science are the two permanent pillars on the way of life. Religion gives a Source, a beginning, while science gives the means of expression for right living.–Edna Lister, February 5, 1970

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Stories That Illustrate Religion

Jesus Explains Religion to the Woman in Sychar: The woman saith unto [Jesus], Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
  Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.–John 4:19-24

Jesus Explains Religion to the Pharisees: Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?
  He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and, Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye. And when he had called all the people unto him, he said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.–John 7:1-16

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New Testament on Religion

If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.–James 1:26-27

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Edna Miriam Lister
The original Pioneering Mystic,
Christian Platonist philosopher, American Idealist, Founder, Society of the Universal Living Christ, minister, teacher, author, wife, and mother.

Edna Lister

Etymology of religion: Latin religio, religion-, from religare, “to tie fast.” Religare means to raise the lintel, the two uprights are bound to the lintel.

Religion is a Via Christa Degree.
Religion is a law of being.
Religion is a law of doing.


One of the chief uses of religion is that it makes us remember our coming from darkness, the simple fact that we are created.–G.K. Chesterton


G.K. Chesterton. The Boston Sunday Post, January 16, 1921.

Harper, Douglas. Online Etymology Dictionary, 2024.

The Holy Bible. King James Version (KJV).

Lactantius. Divinae institutiones, (Divine Institutes), Book IV (Of True Wisdom and Religion) IV, 28. William Fletcher, trans., From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe, eds. Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1886.

The Oxford English Dictionary: Compact Ed., 2 vols. E.S.C. Weiner, ed. Oxford University Press, 1971.

Webster’s American Dictionary. New York: S. Converse, 1828.

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