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JeffVader's avatar

How would religion differ if the institutions didnt exist?

Asked by JeffVader (5416points) March 26th, 2010

I was thinking back to Pagan days when there was little organised worship… certainly no monolithic institutions, & people would worship their gods in their own way. How would a similar situation change the main religions in the world today?

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12 Answers

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Before Christianity, the followers of Christ were known as followers of The Way. The movement was called The Way. Christianity didn’t arise until Dogma turned The Way into a Religion.

I suppose, that without the religious institution of Christianity, that the followers of The Way would still be around.

zophu's avatar

Religion depends on institutions. (If not these institutions, others. Just as solid, just as unevolving. Just as foolish.)

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Perhaps it would be more private, perhaps it would welcome debate more.

jfos's avatar

—The Vatican would have to call its financial advisor and transfer to far more conservative funds.
—The Middle East would become the home of the Sneetches, with Jews and Muslims alike paying to get stars on their bellies.
—A lot less innocent people would be getting blown up.
—A new line of business involving the melting of religious jewelry would flourish.

stump's avatar

I think the premise of your question isn’t quite accurate. Institutionalized religion was not invented by christians. The druids of northern Europe had a vast organization and presided over many kinds of rituals involving large numbers of people. The Parthenon in Athens is a huge temple. It could not have been build without a strong institution behind it. The Hellenic priests and priestess were very organized and dogmatic. The Egyptian Pharaohs stood at the head of a huge theocracy.

AstroChuck's avatar

Finally! Something on Fluther that I actually know something about!

@JeffVader-  In regards to the pagan cults of Ancient Rome, there were many ceremonies and rituals practiced by the Romans of every class imaginable. Many of these religious ceremonies required followers of these cults to attend. Attending was considered an obligation for all followers by the highest authority in the church, the Pontifex Maximus.

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies- The first followers of Jesus were known as Followers of Chrestus. Modern Christian groups claim this Jewish cult said they called their following The Way of Jesus Christ. But I’ve never seen anything of any historical evidence to back that. But we do know that they considered themselves Jews and were known to others as Followers of Chrestus.

susanc's avatar

@JeffVader – where do you get such a romantic notion? I smile.

MekmanSupreme's avatar

religions are mostly about communities. A person can get a sense of spirituality then end up on a deserted island and practice and develop personally what he already knows about spirituality on his own. Then come back and probably make his own religion. :P

Qingu's avatar

Religions wouldn’t exist without institutions. Pagan religions weren’t decentralized; they were authority cults and often involved with politics. Just like modern religions.

mattbrowne's avatar

They would be abstract metaphysical quests.

JeffVader's avatar

@stump While I agree certain rituals were widely followed & there were many magnificent temples, I think you’ve misinterpreted what I meant. The main point being that pagan religions were not centrally controlled with one over-arching doctrine supported by individuals all preaching the same information. While I see what you mean about the Druids being a highly developed & established social group they still supported differing gods & practiced different ceremonies to each other depending on what part of Europe they were from & what was most relevant to their people. Not uniform, not centrally controlled or directed.

JeffVader's avatar

@susanc Hehe, I think I’ve been reading too much classical history leately…. & watching too much Caprica :)

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