"Christianity is not a religion."


#1

I’ve been coming across this little semantic dance in my efforts on the Protest Warrior forum. I think it’s obvious on its face why it’s a load, but that’s the problem–explaining the obvious. The best I can tell, it’s merely a semantical or perception problem, but several people there really take this to heart. They reduce Christianity to a “relationship” with Jesus like a “My Buddy” doll. Christianity is a relationship, not a religion…

Anyone else come across this little bit of sophistry?


#2

[quote=montanaman]I’ve been coming across this little semantic dance in my efforts on the Protest Warrior forum. I think it’s obvious on its face why it’s a load, but that’s the problem–explaining the obvious. The best I can tell, it’s merely a semantical or perception problem, but several people there really take this to heart. They reduce Christianity to a “relationship” with Jesus like a “My Buddy” doll. Christianity is a relationship, not a religion…

Anyone else come across this little bit of sophistry?
[/quote]

I have, and I find it quite silly, precisely because it is so obvious.

As you can tell from the Merriam-Webster definition, there’s no doubt that Christians are "religious"and that, by default, Christianity is a “religion.” From a semantic angle, there’s no doubting that Christians are “religious.”

Now, some well-intentioned folks will often take the “relationship” angle to reduce any need for a community (and,therefore, accountability to a group or a set of ideas that might not jive with their own desires). I’ve often wondered who baptizes these people, and what they read; certainly, the letters of St. Paul weren’t written to a bunch of happy-go-lucky individuals looking to boost their “relationship” with God; he wrote to organized churches, so that they might, as a community, through worship and love, come to a deeper relationship with God.

Good luck trying to explain the obvious. :wink:


#3

I am assuming that they believe that Christianity is just some “invisible” or “spiritual” church, and not some hierarchial institution established by Christ to teach His Word infallibly (a.k.a., the Catholic Church).

Ask them what we are supposed to believe. Undoubtedly, they will say the Bible. Ask them why the Bible? Why is the Bible the Word of God and not some other books? Why are some books (Gospel of Thomas, for example) not in the Bible? Why are the books that are in the Bible there? This will undoubtedly lead to a discussion about the infallibility of the Catholic Church to determine, under the Holy Spirit, what a “Bible” must contain and omit.

Also, would Jesus just leave us to the wolves? No, He was the Good Shepherd, and guides us in everything we do. Matt. 28:18-20: Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Jesus solely grants this authority to teach in his name to the Apostles and their successors. We need an authority to guide us. Why are there 33,000+ Protestant denominations? Simply, no guidance.

Hope that helps.


#4

Hi Montanaman—one of my very favorite states, by the way—I have heard that from a lady in one of my parishes years ago. In the strictest sense of course it is not true, obviously Christianity is a religion, but it rests on the truth that in order to be a part of Christianity you have a living relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament and the Fellowship of the Church: “We love God because He first loved us.” Those folks you mention think of “religion” as something Man does to earn peace with God, like offering mistelto under oak trees or sacrificing goats. By contrast, in the Christian Faith, it is GOD Who acts, condescending to enter His fallen Creation in order to reconcile it to Himself. Faith is given as a gift to us fallen human beings to raise us up. We are recipients not the givers. Christianity is a living faith in a living Lord Who loves us and gives Himself for us in Word and Sacrament in the Fellowship of Christ’s Body, the Church. St. John of Damascus [8th Century Church Father in Syria and Palestine] in his great Easter hymn speaks of Easter as the “Spring of Souls”—in His cruel death on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection and Ascension Jesus gives us new life, which we participate in through Baptism by the power of God’s Holy Spirit; He brings our souls to life, like trees bursting into bloom so we can bear lasting fruit to God’s Glory. That’s where Christianity as a religion begins. I hope I explained it clearly


#5

Actually, big ‘M’, the relationship, as I understand it, has more to do with the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. As someone explained to me…Jesus said no one comes to the Father but by Me.


#6

I think Kreeft puts it quite well in his book, Socrates Meets Jesus, religion is almost impossible to define satisfactorally. It depends on the definition. In one sense, Christianity, if true, cannot be a religion if is is defined as man’s search for God since Christianity is all about God’s search for man. But then again in other ways it is defined Christianity is a religion.


#7

[quote=montanaman]I’ve been coming across this little semantic dance in my efforts on the Protest Warrior forum. I think it’s obvious on its face why it’s a load, but that’s the problem–explaining the obvious. The best I can tell, it’s merely a semantical or perception problem, but several people there really take this to heart. They reduce Christianity to a “relationship” with Jesus like a “My Buddy” doll. Christianity is a relationship, not a religion…

Anyone else come across this little bit of sophistry?
[/quote]

James and Paul both considered Christianity a religion-- see 1 Timothy 5:4 (these should learn first of all 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.) and James 1:26-27 (If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.)

They are both writing to fellow Christians when they discuss proper exercise of RELIGION.


#8

Most Christians, when they sniff about Christianity not being a religion, usually are equating religion with legalism, i.e., a system of rituals and works devised to get one into heaven. This is what many of them mistakenly believe Catholicism to be: a crass system of works-righteousness where one has God in his debt by the things one does.

Thus, the denial of Christianity as a religion, is in fact often a subtle distancing of oneself from anything (heaven forbid!) remotely like CATHOLICISM.


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