Self Reliance and Other Essays

Emerson and the Bible: A Major Transcendentalist's View of God 9th Grade

One of the greatest problems that readers have when reading Emerson’s work is grasping his religious beliefs. Religion is essential to Emerson because every essay he wrote seems filled with references to earning a more perfect relationship with God. Emerson's emphasis on a “universal soul flowing through individual souls” can strike us as mystical and abstract, and, therefore, hard to grasp. Emerson's belief in individualism and accepting Unitarian principles, this is based fundamentally on someone’s private relationship with God and on the individual's own judgment in matters of morals and ethics. Contrary to biblical Christianity, Emerson believes God is an image of what we should try to be like, we are the individual that trumps everything in society, and to be right with God we must be perfect. Rather than seeing the truth about God, Emerson believed God was no more divine than you or I.

Emerson saw Jesus not as God, but as the most significant example of what all humans should look up to. Emerson says about God, “One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself in Man, and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his world." (Emerson, Divinity School Address) Emerson’s view of God...

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