Saturday, May 15, 2010

What is Religion?

Have you ever heard anyone say something to the effect of "I am against religion"? And even more direct "Religion destroys people"? Most of the time these comments will come from nonbelievers; and at some point we believers have started to agree - we say things like "It's not about religion it's about a relationship". The reason is fairly simple, there have been so many evils done in the name of "religion", and so much hypocrisy within "religion" - that we want to distance ourselves from that view.

But when we look to how Scripture defines religion, it says:

James 1:27
Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

So I have a few thoughts on the issue.

First is that religion is a very good thing (and who can disagree if you define it as the Bible does). And in the sense of seeking to help and love orphans and widows, more people need to be religious.

I also think that yes people are right in seeing the evils done in the name of "religion" and in the hypocrisy within it - but that is no error of what religion is and should be - the error is us. If people are to see religion as it should be, see it correctly; than it is our responsibility to demonstrate it as such. Evils have been done in the name of religion; but religion has never permitted it - it is what people have decided as their excuse to do these evils.

I also think that if one was to pull out a dictionary the definition would probably be more close to the traditions of a specific faith, rather than definition from James 1:27 - but should we give up God's words because of this? Should we let those who disagree with us decide what terms mean what - and then we distance ourselves from such terms? Should we keep distance from rainbows (a sign from God of His promise to never flood and kill all living again) because homosexuals have decided to use it?

Lastly, I do agree on at least one point - Christianity is more than just religion, and religion without the relationship with Jesus is empty and almost of no value. It isn't about religion, it's about life in Christ, and through Christ, and because of Christ, given by Christ.


  1. I agree, we have lost the meaning of the word. When people ask me, "Are you religious?" I generally tell them, "No, but YOU would probably say that I am."

    You summed it up well with, "...religion without the relationship with Jesus is empty and almost of no value." It's like faith without works mentioned in James 2:17. It's like having spiritual gifts and knowledge without love (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

    And so much damage has been done in the name of religion by hyprocrites. Hypocrites, by definition are not what they claim, they are pretenders.

  2. I agree that James 1:27 properly defines the term "religion." However, with the way many people use it today, I think a T-shirt sums it up well: "Christianity is not a religion. Religion is humans trying to work their way to God. Christianity is God coming to men and women through a relationship with Jesus Christ. John 3:16." Christianity is not a "religion" in the sense that it's a way to make oneself pleasing to God. All "religions" acknowledge that there's a gap between God and man (except the new age 'I am God' and atheism), but only Christianity has God bridging that gap by the Cross of Jesus Christ, every other religion says man can bridge the gap by doing good works. But Christianity proclaims that is impossible.


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