Saturday, November 7, 2009

Christianity Is Not A Religion?

Yeah, you heard that right.

This is an apparently common belief amongst evangelicals, especially those of the fundamentalist branch.  The refrain is that the Christian faith isn't a religion, but a "personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ".  Yep, that's what they boil it down to; you and Jesus, no one else.

Some even go as far as to associate religious structure with devil worship and the Whore of Revelation, but I might be stretching that, so don't quote me.

Let's see how the dictionary defines religion

1.a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2.a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3.the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.
4.the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.
5.the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
6.something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.
7.religions, Archaicreligious rites.
8.Archaicstrict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow.

Pay close attention to number two.

Number two tells us a religion is a set of beliefs and practices agreed upon by it's practitioners.  Does Christianity fulfill this?  Let's make a short of list of the things most Christians agree upon.

1.  The Holy Trinity:  one God in three Persons

2.  The divinity of Christ

3.  The atoning death of Christ on the cross and His physical resurrection from the dead.

4.  The Virgin Birth

5.  The Second Coming

There you have it.  Seems the Christian faith does have a basic set of beliefs.  What about practices?  Most Christians I know of do at least one or more of the following.

1.  Daily prayer

2.  Attendance at weekly services

3.  Evangelization

4.  Aid to the poor and needy

Common practices?  So it seems.

It would appear then, that the Christian faith does indeed meet the definition of a religion.  Why then, do so many believe it isn't?

It all boils down to, in my humble opinion, two things:

1.  A dislike of having to live by a standardized moral code.

2.  The common evangelical belief that the Church that Jesus established is an invisible of union of all believers, rather than a divinely appointed institution.  What does that mean for them?  It means they don't have the authority to interpret Scripture for themselves, even though the Bible never says they do in the first place.

Suffice to say, you are a Christian, you practice a religion.  Religion is not a bad word, especially when the religion you practice is the one true faith once and for all delivered to the saints.

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