January 14, 2012
Christianity – Religion, Relationship, or Rules Taught by Men? [Re: Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus]
I posted a cover picture recently on my Facebook page:
It says a lot. It says that ultimately that Being a Christian is more about RELATIONSHIP than it is about rules or religion. This catchy saying is palatable, but is it biblical?
The least I’m gonna do is find out….
In addition to this there is a very popular video circulating around the internet by a brother named Jefferson Bethke entitled “Why I hate Religion and Love Jesus” Take a look at it because it is very important to the context of this blog.
CRITICISM OF THE VIDEO
There has been much criticism of the Religion video above. Posted on January 10th, 2012, it already has 6 million views as the date of this post, and already traditional types who are deep in the IC mindset and belief system have criticized the video. I understand some of their points, and knowing how many of them define the term “religion” I might agree to a certain extent. The bible does refer to “pure and undefiled” religion as I will explain below, and because of this many have concluded that Christianity is indeed a religion. However, I need those who are reading this blog to think a bit deeper than the surface here.
You probably do not know this blog …:::Set FREE From the IC:::… is all about exposing the false religious system that I call the Institutional Church which I believe has enveloped and put a scaffold around true biblical Christianity, much like the religious sects during and before Jesus’ time on Earth. These traditions, customs and rituals in this system are extra biblical, and serve as extra burdens to the people of God, and have nothing to do with the worship of our Lord. I believe this is the “religion” Bethke speaks of…. the type of religious outward works which motives are rooted in hiding sin in an individual, and promoting self-righteousness. This is the kind of religion which blinds those who claim to be in the light, and like the bible said about the Pharisees, they “shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces.” They themselves do not enter, nor will they let those enter who are trying to.
So before you are dismissive of the video or the contents of what is being said, consider the context of what is being said, without getting into semantics about the definition of the word religion, which I will show you below, has different contexts in today’s modern society. It is clear to most believers what the Bethke is speaking of.
Truth be told, I think many religious people are afraid of talk like this. Let’s explore.
QUESTION – Is Christianity a RELIGION, RELATIONSHIP, RULES TO FOLLOW?
The question was raised recently, mainly by Spirit promptings and that little tugging at the soul which never went away … and I think a clarification of terms is necessary before we draw any further conclusions. So to be honest this note is helping me, and I hope it helps you.
SO WHAT IS RELIGION?
So glad you asked!
Merriam-Webster defines religion as:
1a : the state of a religious
b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural
(2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2: a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4: a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
In the bible when the word is used (In particular James 1:26-27)
thrēskeia (From Blue Letter Bible)
1) religious worship
a) esp. external, that which consists of ceremonies
1) religious discipline, religion
The word “religion” in English is used again in Galatians 1:13-14 as Paul talks about his Jewish faith…
Ioudaïsmos (From Blue Letter Bible)
1) the Jewish faith and worship, religion of the Jews, Judaism
In today’s world, and certainly when I refer to it in modern-day terms, religion simply is a set of religious principles, works and ritualistic customs which center around efforts to worship a super human power or (G)od(s), OR these same set of rituals, works and customs to obtain some sort of enlightenment, higher consciousness, nirvana etc.
Religion collectively in this context is seen as a divisive and destructive practice by Christian and non-Christian alike, mainly because each religion has its own assertions about their higher power which logically conflict. Religion is blamed for wars, strife, death, and much suffering throughout the world. Every major religion can name professors of their faiths who have perpetrated bloody, brutal atrocities throughout the centuries in the name of their religion.
The WORLD considers these the main religions: (From About.com 2011)
1)The “Christian” Group – 2,116,909,552
which consists of:
a) 1,117,759,185 Roman Catholics
b) 372,586,395 Protestants
c) 221,746,920 Orthodox and
d) 81,865,869 Anglicans
2) Muslims – 1,282,780,149
3) Hindus – 856,690,863
4) Buddhists – 381,610,979
5) Sikhs – 25,139,912
6) Judaism – 14,826,102
a) Others – 814,146,396
b) Non-Religious – 801,898,746
c) Atheists – 152,128,701
Keeping these definitions in mind is VERY important, especially about how many view religion TODAY, to make sure that when someone makes a slogan like the one pictured, you know where they are coming from.
As always wanna thank my sister who reminded me today what PURE and UNDEFILED religion is in the scriptures:
James 1:26-27 (NIV84)
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
1 Timothy 5:4 (NIV84)
But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God.
Jesus himself tells of the things we will be commended for when we see him in Heaven:
Matthew 25 (NIV84)
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,
36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?
39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
Unfortunately in FALSEHOOD and HYPOCRISY we all have seen too much defiled, and impure religion around us. THIS kind of religion, FALSE RELIGION is the kind of religion which KILLS, which emphasizes rules and regulations vs. genuine right relationship with the Father through Christ. It’s what I believe Jesus came to destroy.When many people think of religion they aren’t thinking of it in terms of pure religion in the scripture but how the world has seen DEFILED AND IMPURE religion… The kind of religion I and others in Christ HATE… hence the confusion over whether Christianity is religion or not. *smile*
IS CHRISTIANITY A RELIGION?
The answer to the question is dependent on which definition you are going to use. Are we talking Merriam Webster? The Bible’s definition? The WORLD’S definition? The answer? Well… I will leave that up to the person who reads this to draw their own conclusions.
So in my effort to renew my mind and make sure that I am embracing biblical concepts, and not just clichéd jargon I learned in the IC, what do I believe? YES Christianity is MORE about your relationship with Jesus Christ, because this is from where TRUE RELIGION… those OUTWARD, EVIDENT, AND EXTERNAL good works which God has prepared for us in advance… flows. Christianity should be to simply follow Christ. To be in Christ is to be reconciled to the Father. That is the best and most edifying relationship… HOWEVER one’s relationship with God can be one of enmity and separation.
RELIGION WHICH FLOWS OUT OF FLESH DAMNS TO HELL
The flesh loves false religion: Man’s vain attempt with customs, practices, and rituals to get closer to God and cover their sin. We have to remember that God has told us in the scriptures that people have done such for centuries, especially in Israel’s history.
Important to also note: One can feed the poor, fatherless, widow, visit those in prison AND STILL GO TO HELL. One can do all of these external acts of righteousness and still have DEFILED RELIGION because as the scriptures teach us, it is not what goes into a man (external) which makes him unclean, it is what comes out. (internally) One can do those works, not to the glory of Christ, but to glorify themselves… It has always been about the heart and motives when it comes to the Lord, and it is only a heart which is devoted to Christ, desires to love him and love their neighbor from which TRUE BIBLICAL RELIGION can flow. I don’t think people realize that God in the flesh came and REPLACED the religious system of the Levitical Priesthood, sacrifice, etc. HE created with HIM. True religion will flow from relationship in HIM. No where else… only in Christ.
Another Important Note: People do not want to accept THE FACT that we have built a false religious system around Christianity… in fact, people have started to confuse that false religious system with biblical Christianity.
This is why false hypocritical religious systems MUST BE CONFRONTED and dealt with, and this is why I LOVE the video in this post. Jesus did it in his day and so should we. Jesus came to set people free from sin, and all things which bound them, including false religious tradition taught as doctrines of men by the religious establishment of his day. Jesus said that these traditions made the word of God to no effect, and make no mistake about it, this is SIN, which is also a WORK OF THE DEVIL.
We have built a false religious system around Christ, and have bound many a saint, without lifting a finger to help them with the burdens we have placed on them. Jesus’ yoke is easy and his burden is LIGHT.
I will gladly let the Lord work in me in his plan to do such. Just another perspective. Grace and Peace to the brethren.