The Heart of Religion

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Heart of Religion_coverThe Heart of Religion is based on a national survey involving 1,200 randomly selected Americans regardless of religious background and extended interviews conducted by the authors with more than 120 Christians engaged in benevolence across America from all walks of life. According to the authors, “Encounters with God’s love are quite common in America. They can be transformative, both for individuals and their communities. At times the effects reverberate throughout the world. Our national survey reveals that eight out of ten Americans claim to have had such experiences, at least on occasion. Eighty-one percent (81%) of respondents acknowledged that they ‘experience God’s love as the greatest power in the universe’ and 83 percent said they ‘feel God’s love increasing their compassion for others.’”

The authors found that the interviewees are in touch with God’s sustaining love that revitalizes them when they feel like giving up and helps them see beyond their immediate circumstances. Their multifaceted relationship with God gives them a deep sense of peace, reduces worry and anxiety, fosters inner healing, produces confidence, sharpens discernment, increases energy for action, and helps distinguish ordinary “busyness” from real fruitfulness.

This study is distinctive. Whereas much public and private dialogue in America tends to focus on the “shell of religion” (beliefs/cognitions, denominations, social networks), this book focuses on love as the “heart of religion.” Based on equal measures of scholarly research and human insight, The Heart of Religion offers an unprecedented level of detail about the experience and expression of divine love.

The Heart of Religion

Spiritual Empowerment, Benevolence, and the Experience of God’s Love

Matthew T. Lee, Margaret M. Poloma, and Stephen G. Post

Oxford University Press

December 12, 2012

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