Saturday, April 16, 2011

What is the stigmatic animosity toward the term "religion"? Is it a wrong to say that Christianity is a religion. The book of James uses it. Do you think it's fair to start making a distinction TRUE religion and FALSE religion?

I’ll start from the scripture in James. James 1:26-27 says “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The word for religious/religion in verses 26 and 27 is the greek word θρησκεια (* yes, I copied and pasted…I do not know Greek) which can be used interchangeably with worhip/worshipping. Colossians 2:18 uses the same word when it says “Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels…” So, if we were to use the word worship in James 1:26-27 rather than religion, it seems to clarify what James really thinks about religion or worship. “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue, but deceives his heart, this person’s (worship) is worthless. (Worship) that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this….” With this understanding, I don’t think it’s wrong to say that Christianity is a religion, and I do. Saying Christianity is a religion is no different than saying basketball is a religion, or shopping is a religion, or stockbroking. Sinful humans religion (used as a verb) anything and everything. We worship things and people. We talk about them with the utmost delight, we spend serious amounts of time with them, and we devote and sacrifice for the things we worship – thereby making the objects of our affections our religion. I’m guilty of making basketball a religion; Lust a religion; People’s opinions of me a religion. I really did nothing different than a Bhuddist or a Muslim. I sought to please a god, namely, myself and I was doing everything I could to appease that god. I think religion is worship and true religion is true worship of God: Father, Son and Spirit. Jesus says that true worshippers worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23). The only TRUE religion and TRUE worship is centered on God: Father, Son and Spirit. Any other religion is false in the sense that its worship is centered on something or someone other than God. It’s really worship, it’s just really false. It is possible for people to even worship Christianity and not worship God. Worship of going to church, getting into community, and worship of doing what Christians do is all worship of Christianity, and a person may do these things and not be worshipping God at all. This is why I think it is wrong in a sense to say Christianity is a religion. If people do "Christianity" on the grounds of trying to appease a deity, either themselves or God, then “Christianity” becomes like every other system – a false “religion” or worship. Also, when I hear people say “It’s not religion, its relationship.”, I sort of scratch my head. True, Christianity is firstly and foremost a relationship with God, but if we leave it here, then it is left where any other relationship is, just a correlation between friends. But Christianity is a religion because it involves worship. It involves devotion and submission and obedience (although not dead ritualistic practices), and these things are all grounded on a relational factor: love and grace. So my answer to the question “Is Christianity a religion or a relationship?” is …Its both.

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