THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGIOUS FEELING AND FAITH
"Not everyone who says to me 'Lord, Lord': shall enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of my Father in heaven shall enter the kingdom of heaven. Many will say to me in that day, 'Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in thy name, and work many miracles in thy name?' And then I will declare unto them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity!'
How can a person who lacks the true faith, or for that matter lacks essential truths, appear zealous and dutiful in the practice of their religion? From the muslim who kills in the name of allah, to the thrice divorced born again, or the contracepting Catholic--how can they appear to be religious while failing to follow God's commands? I recently stumbled upon an excellent explanation for this in a book called Letters To A Mother by Father Emmanuel Marie Andre.
"A religious feeling is...of the natural order. A religious feeling is the natural consequence of being creatures, just as respect for parents is natural to the child."
"The religious feeling, being natural to man, is found in all men, faithful and infidels; for all of them have these remains of respect for God which is sometimes manifested by a religious act founded upon truth---as for Christians, sometimes for a religious act full of errors---as for the infidels and the idol worshippers, etc."
"There are nations among which the religious feeling is naturally very deep--among the Arabs, for example. An Arab will never fail to say his morning prayer, his noon prayer, and his evening prayer. From the height of his minaret he hears the muezzin cry the sacred formula: "La Allah...",etc...Here is religious feeling in all its power."
"But remember ...our nature is fallen in Adam. From a fallen nature can only come a religious feeling deprived also of vitality. Nature cannot rise again from itself, and the purely natural religious feeling definitely cannot bring man back to God nor take him away from sin. So with all his natural religiousness, one can keep all the vices that are unfortunatley natural to him, too. One can be vain, a liar, a thief.
Thus these are the characteristics of religious feeling: "It sees nothing, wants nothing, can do nothing against sin....It adapts itself to everything, it comes to term with everything, it falls in with everything, it devotes itself to nothing.
On the other hand faith is supernatural ...[f]aith is the adhesion of our spirit to the truth revealed by God. It is a good that does not derive from our nature but which is given to it from above in order to heal it. Faith is essentially purifying... It enlightens the spirit, cleanses it of errors. It straightens the fallen man, places him again in the way of God."
"The emotional revivalist often produces valuable effects, but all revivalist movements are subject to the law of diminishing returns. It is impossible for men to live forever on the heights. A religion which equates the emotional state with salvation is a broken reed when the temperature drops. Much misery has been caused by the evangelical doctrine that Christianity is worthless unless it is the product of a conversion which is always represented as a vivid religious experience." Arnold Lunn: Now I See.