Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Christianity is Not a Religion?

There are many cliches in the Church today--catchy sayings that are popular and that people like to throw out because they sound good and appealing--on the surface. One of these cliches is "Christianity isn't about religion; it's about a relationship with Christ". Some people will even distance themselves from the word "Christian", and instead call themselves "followers of Christ". This I can somewhat understand because of the fact that so many people who classify themselves as Christians don't really follow Christ. However, many people who are followers of Christ but don't want to call themselves Christians have this aversion because they don't want to be affiliated with a "religion".

However, is being a part of a religion--or being a "religious" person--a bad thing? With the negative connotation that the words "religion" and "religious" have been assigned by many in the Church today, you would think so! But let's take a look at what the Bible actually says on the matter.

"Religion" in and of itself is not condemned in the Bible, only how it is practiced. No one has yet been able to show me verses to the contrary. I don't typically like to use multiple different Bible translations, but I have done that here because some use the word "religion" or "religious" where others don't.

Let's start with the KJV:

Acts 13:43 says, "Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God."

The word "religious" seems to have a positive meaning in that verse.

James 1:26-27 says, "If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 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."

These verses indicate that religion is a good thing, but that you are deceiving yourself by thinking you are religious if you don't do the things listed here.

Colossians 2:23 (ESV) says, "These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh."

While it seems negative in regard to "religion", it is really only critical of "self-made" religion.

1 Timothy 5:4 (Holman) says, "But if any widow has children or grandchildren, they should learn to practice their religion toward their own family first and to repay their parents, for this pleases God."

This verse actually says religion *should* be practiced.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 (Holman) says, "1 But know this: difficult times will come in the last days. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, without love for what is good, 4 traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!"

Having religion wasn't the sin; denying its power was. Also, when Paul told the men of Athens he could see that they were very religious, was he insulting them?

It seems that where "religion" or "religious" is mentioned in the Bible, it is either positive or neutral. The only time it has a negative connotation is in reference to "bad" religion. I haven't seen any place where religion itself is condemned.

Whether or not one wants to admit it, based on what we read in Scripture Christianity IS a religion, but it is a religion based on a relationship--a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Finally, let's look at one more reference, this time not from the Bible, but from a source that is respected by most conservative Christians, Noah Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language:

RELIGION, n. relij'on. [L. religio, from religo, to bind anew; re and ligo, to bind. This word seems originally to have signified an oath or vow to the gods, or the obligation of such an oath or vow, which was held very sacred by the Romans.]

1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.

2. Religion, as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law. James 1.

3. Religion, as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law.
Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion.

4. Any system of faith and worship. In this sense, religion comprehends the belief and worship of pagans and Mohammedans, as well as of christians; any religion consisting in the belief of a superior power or powers governing the world, and in the worship of such power or powers. Thus we speak of the religion of the Turks, of the Hindoos, of the Indians, &c. as well as of the christian religion. We speak of false religion, as well as of true religion.

5. The rites of religion; in the plural.

So, it would appear that "religion" does not deserve the bad rap it has been getting, and being "religious" is not necessarily a bad thing!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Superintendent Apologizes for "Controversial" School Assembly


We now live in a culture where sinful and perverse behavior is considered normal and God's word is considered "controversial".

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Logos Bible Software

Logos Bible Software is celebrating the launch of their new online Bible by giving away 72 ultra-premium print Bibles at a rate of 12 per month for six months. The Bible giveaway is being held at Bible.Logos.com and you can get up to five different entries each month! After you enter, be sure to check out Logos and see how it can revolutionize your Bible study.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The untruthiness (or ignorance) of our state Democrat legislators


Some of you may have seen the video of the business owner asking state senator Jeff Danielson about the impact of adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" to the state's civil rights code. That is the video in which Danielson accused that citizen of being hateful. Danielson and two other legislators (Dotzler and Kressig) denied the predictions of what would happen if those two categories were added to the civil rights law. However, everything predicted has now been affirmed by One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT advocacy organization. Either these legislators were ignorant as to what would happen, or they were dishonest, neither of which is good. This is also evidence that the predictions made by the business owner were not just fear tactics, or "hate in [his] heart", or "digust" for people who practice that behavior, as Danielson claimed.

An interesting sidenote is that Danielson asserted that the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law for a "whole host of enumerated traits". First of all, there are no enumerated traits in the Fourteenth Amendment. Second, having protected classes in the state's civil rights code actually violates the spirit of the Fourteenth Amendment, as it offers greater protection to some classes of people than to others. I wonder how Danielson--Pro Tempora of the Iowa State Senate--can uphold and defend the Constituion, as he acknowledged he is obligated to do, when he doesn't know what it says and/or understand what it means?

Here's the video with Danielson: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2R7ISGE794

It is too late to do anything about this. Too many of us were uninformed and/or unmotivated to call our legislators. However, it is good to know this information if you ever get into a discussion with someone about this subject. It can be especially valuable come next election time. However, we can't just wait for the next round of campaigns to heat up. We need to do a better job during the time between election cycles (if there IS such a thing as time between election cycles anymore!) of informing the public of the effect of laws that are being pushed by the Dems, or that have already been passed. Let's not be asleep at the wheel if the same-sex "marriage" issue comes up again.

If you haven't watched the video of Chuck Hurley's meeting with the Des Moines Register's editorial board, I encourage you to do so. I know it is long, but it is a great demonstration of where both sides are on this issue, the arguments being used, and the rebuttals being offered.

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=200881208013

You can find the complete text from which the below excerts were taken at:

http://www.oneiowa.org/web/beInformed/civilRights/faq/

Keep in mind, this is not a proposed law--it is already in effect.

Emphasis below (and comments in parenthesis) is mine.

Dress codes:

...dress codes are not precluded by state or federal law as long as an employer allows an employee to appear, groom and dress consistent with the employee's gender identity.

("Gender identity" is self-identified, and is whatever the individual decides it is at any particular moment)

Restroom usage:

It is still legal in Iowa for businesses to maintain gender-segregated restrooms. The new law does require, however, that individuals are permitted to access those restrooms in accordance with their gender identity, rather than their assigned sex at birth. And, just as non-transgender individuals are entitled to use a restroom appropriate to their gender identity without having to provide documentation or respond to invasive requests, transgender individuals must also be allowed to use a gender-identity appropriate restroom without being harassed or questioned.

(Ladies, don't be surprised if you run into a man who has defined himself as female next time you use a public restroom)

"Harassment" and "hostile work environment":

Workplace harassment is any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct that either denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward a person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity that:

  • Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment;
  • (A person could say the workplace was hostile if they knew there was a Christian there who believed homosexuality is a sin. The believer wouldn't even have to verbalize it for the person to claim they are offended having such a person in their workplace.)

  • Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee's work performance

  • (An employee could claim that having such a person as mentioned above in the workplace was interfering with his performance.)

  • Employers should ensure their employees are protected not only from other supervisors and coworkers, but also from harassment by third parties, such as service users and vendors.

  • (So employers are not only responsible for themselves and their employees, but also their customers and suppliers?)

    Public accommodation:

    Harassment, intimidation, or other demonstration of hostility

    (This is wide open to interpretation. If a person has Bibles in his business for people to take, would that be considered harassment or intimidation?)

    Does the law apply to churches?:

    Sometimes. Iowa law provides that these protections do not apply to religious institutions with respect to any religion-based qualifications when such qualifications are related to a bona fide religious purpose. Where qualifications are not related to a bona fide religious purpose, churches are still subject to the law's provisions, e.g. a child care facility operated at a church or a church service open to the public.

    Saturday, April 26, 2008

    When Evil is Called Good, and Good is Called Evil...

    State senator Matt McCoy makes some very nasty remarks about the Iowa Family Policy Center and Chuck Hurley. Click below and you will be taken to a page where you can listen to his comments.

    Senator Matt McCoy blasts the IFPC.


    Matt McCoy

    Tuesday, February 26, 2008

    Star Wars - From the Perspective of a Three-Year-Old


    This doesn't really have much to do with anything else on this blog, but I found it on YouTube and it is just so cute that I had to share it!

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    You'd Think a Baptist Minister Would Know!

    On the O'Reilly Factor last night, Mike Huckabee, presidential hopeful and former Arkansas Governor, again refused to confirm beliefs held by the majority of conservative, born-again Christians.

    When asked about his answer in the now famous debate from June of this year concerning evolution, he continued to be ambiguous, saying, "I represent 90% of the American people who believe God was 'involved' in the creation." Really? God was just 'involved' in the process? I thought for sure He was totally responsible for creation.

    But it doesn't stop there. O'Reilly presses him further, saying, "But most of us--and I believe God was involved in creation too--believe that there was an evolutionary process." To this, Huckabee replied, "There well could have been." Unbelievable! So now the Baptist minster believes in evolution, after being one of three candidates (Tom Tancredo and Sam Brownback being the other two) who raised his hand at a previous debate when the question was asked, "Is there anyone on this stage who doesn't believe in evolution?" Huckabee went on to mention Dr. Frances Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, who he identified as an evolutionist and a "very devout evangelical Christian", in an attempt to try to justify his apparent position that evolution and Christianity are not incompatible.

    Combine these with his repeated remarks about creation in regard to not knowing how God did it, or how long it took, and I think conservative Christians who support Huckabee would be wise to probe a little deeper. While I understand that there are different views among Christians concerning creation, you would think a Baptist minister would at least have a position.

    O'Reilly continues pressing Huckabee on his faith, asking, "Do you believe that people who don't believe Jesus is God can get to Heaven?" Huckabee: "I believe Jesus is the way to Heaven. That's what the Scripture teaches. If someone else has a different belief and they figure out how to get there apart from that, that's the only way I know how to get there." That's the only way he knows how to get there? Does that mean he thinks there might be other ways? How about saying there is only one way to get to Heaven, period?

    O'Reilly: "OK, so you say that you're secure in your own beliefs, but you're not telling anybody else that they are or are not going to Heaven?" Huckabee: "That's not my job. My job is to make sure I make it on my convictions." Again I ask, really? I thought it was our job as followers of Christ to preach the Gospel and make disciples, which would entail letting people know that Jesus is the only way, and without Him there is no hope for spending eternity in Heaven.

    Toward the end of the interview, Huckabee criticizes people who say they're Christians, but then don't live like it. Maybe he should take the log out of his own eye before trying to find a speck in someone else's!