I just can’t take it anymore. The next time I hear someone say “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship,” well, I don’t know what I’ll do, but I won’t remain silent any more.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve said this myself! I’ve said lots of things. only some of them have been recorded.
But I’m a paid religious professional. You could assume I am responding defensively. I don’t think that’s it.
This last time I heard the “relationship, not religion,” talk, a few days ago from a Christan band member at a concert, I finally realized what’s wrong with the comparison.
They’re getting religion wrong.
The word “religion” occurs famously one and only one time in the Bible. That’s once in the King James Version, the NIV adds a few more. But the KLV, NIV, and NRSV all agree that James 1:27 includes the word “religion,” and the verse – I’ll share the NRSV – says this:
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
The band man – I didn’t catch from the video exactly who was speaking, defined religion as being about rules and laws and guilt and shame.
If that’s religion, I’m against, it too!
Oddly, the same person who prefers to think of being a Christian as about relationship, not religion, recognizes that relationships can be harmful, but not that religion can be good.
Maybe he hadn’t read James?
That’s more likely than that he is opposed to caring for widows and orphans and learning to keep oneself unstained by the world.