Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 1/2 Reasons Why I Hate Religion - Everybody Doesn't Like Something

Be honest, are there things that you don't like about the church, about its people, and the "rules" in the Bible? Ann Rice recently had a whole list. I have posted a few lists over the years myself. I bet you can even whip one up before you get to the next paragraph.

How is it possible to know Jesus and yet exist within an imperfect church, with diverse viewpoints, denominations, worship styles, theologies and well, uncertainty?

To quote Mark Driscoll, who I generally don't care for (Hey, I do like Rob Bell sometimes): "Every Christian struggles, to varying degrees, with different parts of the Bible because they call us to repent of beliefs we formerly held and ways in which we formerly behaved."

I suppose the rub comes when that which we read in the Bible conflicts with our personal belief system. That's when the fireworks start. It is the time when folks from Westboro Baptist Church and Jerimiah Wright (Obama's Former Pastor) make headlines. It's ugly!

I read a handful of blogs on my mandatory lunch break. Some of them poke fun at the fringes of American Christianity and the stupidity within. I admit, I find many of them funny - like the skateboarding priest! Occasionally they are downright nasty about others in the "faith." Sometimes because of past hurts or lack of knowledge. More often, it is folks that have been constrained by previous religious training that was empty and ineffective.

Here is my list of the top offenders when it comes to religion keeping us from the true Jesus.

-1 Theology: That's right, the very thing that should keep us unified, is the very thing that separates us. Type it in as a search term in Amazon, and there are 115,594 results. Somebody has got to be wrong, don't you think?

-2 Legalism: This is a severe form of theology that intellectually trys to make sense of the Bible without running it by God. The "rules" in the Bible are meant to point out our depravity and need for a Savior, not be a score card for holiness. If you believe that no one is perfect, then legalism will simply cause strife. This was the very conflict that Martin Luther struggled with as he made confession over and over each day. Finally, he discovered grace. Without the spirit of God we'll simply have fake fruit in our lives.

-3 Culture Formed Biblical Application: This is a huge. It started the day Jesus was resurrected and went on to the blond haired, blue-eyed Jesus paintings ceturies ago, and now has made its way into mainstream Christianity. Cultural forming happens as soon as we try to make Jesus whatever we need him to be so that he conforms to our world-view. Pagan traditions turned "holy days" for example. Saying things like "Jesus would have been a Republican because he was social conservative." Or, "He would have been a Democrat because He was for social justice." Folks try to twist the Scriptures to meet their agendas.

Jesus lived in a time when there were many cultures combined in Israel. Each one had thier own ideas, beliefs, pagan worship, and faith in gods of every type. He ministered the same things to all of them. Faith, love, hope and the truth of who He was and why He came. He was clear on what sin was, and yet he spent a lot of time with the ones with the worst sins. For the most part the religious people would have nothing to do with Him.

It is NOT about what you do, it is about what He did.

-4 Salvation: Evangelicals are into getting folks saved. They have have it down to a science. Every evangelical church in the world is growing by leaps and bounds. GAK. The truth is that few American churches that believe in salvation are growing. The focus on getting folks in the door so that we can move on to more that need to be in the door is shallow! Often, we leave them on the doorstep of faith.

The biblical plan is discipleship. As one writer said, it's messy and requires time and effort. It is training those that get saved to go deeper and bear fruit, not become seedlings that sprout on rocky soil.

-5 Religious Practice: Why would we simply want to do something becuse every one else is doing it? There are lots of choices in life; you could just play badminton. Maybe the term shuttlecock offends you - I don't know. The point is doing what everyone else is doing is dangerous.

Can we be honest, if we are not connecting with God on a personal level, and just showing up to act like the others, we are religious. It's true. If we don't experience God for ourselves, we might be wasting our time and leading others astray. If you have run dry, you need to find a way to engage with God. How far outside our comfort zone are we willing to go to connect with a living God?

-5 1/2 Sheer Stupidity...

How about you, are you religious?


Charlie Chang said...

You asked if I was religious and my answer is probably, yes. But I'm working on it.

My big thing is, what's religion versus habit? The Chang family has a habit of going to church because we know that's probably a good thing. Is that religious? I'm not sure.

Your #4 is something Christians need to really understand. Jesus in his 7 woes pointed out, "You travel over land and sea to win a convert, but make him twice as much a son of hell as you." I'm just thinking about all the crazy activities we do at church to "win" people for the Lord. Crazy scary.

Sometimes I've been working on lately is not walking out of church and feeling good because I was there and others weren't. Like, "Lord, thank you I'm not like so and so." Jesus had a story for that as well.

Thanks. And I'm LOVING these 5 and 1/2 points you've been doing. Keep it up.

Btw, are you a coffee drinker?

Tracy said...

You make some really important points here.

As far as my whole general thing about church, and all the faults, I deal with it the same way I deal with marriage. I am glad I'm married and am grateful for my husband, but not long after the honeymoon I discovered he's not perfect. But then, I already KNEW that I was not perfect. I'm grateful that he chooses to love me because, even though I usually try not to be, I know that I can be an irritating person to live with. I've got lots of faults. So do the people in church; so when they get together as a group, they mess up. They mess up in regard to theology, they mess up by forgetting that it's all about Jesus, they mess up by trying to make the whole thing formula-matic, they mess up in how they relate to each other. I chose to love them anyway and am so grateful that at least some people in the church choose to love me.

David said...

@Charlie - I suppose sitting in a chair or pew is habit. Some of the rest I think we just need to get with God on it.

Your heart is in the right place.

I'm a caffeine fueled reformer, a believer in Christ, a bit radical, a lot non-conformist, definitely a sushi-eating, rock music loving warrior of the King.

Sort of a yes to your question.

Thanks for reading along!

David said...

@Tracy - Yes, I am glad to part of a loving church family now. When I said the "the church" I was talking about to the global body - which has some real dysfunction in it - the stuff that makes folks farther from God.

It's taken me 4 years to find a church body and that is an hour away.

photogr said...


I don't think I am religious or a Christian in the aspect considered by the established denominations.

Being a self professed maverick now, I find more closeness with God by being out side the brick and mortar church and in the out side world reaching out to others not in a church ( As I mentioned in my last blog two weeks ago).

No I don't stand on a street corner shouting damnation to passerbys but I put my self in a position to seek out others in my communities looking for salvation. Being in a position seeing many people daily now in two locations here allows me many opportunities to share the Lord's words.

Considering the experience I had in one church,I find that I am comfortable being led to follow the path I am taking now. I just pray that it is the right path.

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