Not against religion

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.religion.jpg

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.

 

 

Will the Bible survive?

Will the Bible survive?
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The short answer is “Yes.” I have confidence it will.

Not everyone agrees. Here’s a quote from a book I am reading:

the percentage of Americans who believe the Bible is the “actual word of God, to be taken literally, word for word” has declined remarkably: In 1963, 65% believed this, but that figure is now at 32%.

For some, even 65% is disheartening. I have to admit, I’m not excited about 32%.

On the other hand, I read the whole quote. Did you catch it? The question equates belief that “the Bible is the actual word of God” with “taking it literally, word for word.”

Seems pretty obvious to me that the entire Bible is not meant to be taken “literally, word for word.”

When Jesus said, “I am the bread of life,” (John 6:35) he didn’t mean he was an actual loaf of bread.

In Psalms 17, 31, 36, 57, 61, 63, and others, the psalmist writes of taking shelter under God’s wings. He didn’t mean God is literally a bird!

There are plenty of other references throughout the Bible. I have no need to present an exhaustive list, because it really only takes one to make my point: the Bible is not intended “to be taken literally, word for word.”

But however sure I am the Bible isn’t to be taken literally word for word, I am even more convinced it is the “actual word of God.”

See what I mean?

The Bible will survive. Some of the ways we think about the Bible won’t. That may be a good thing.

 

What am I supposed to do with this?

Once upon a time, I was handed an egg, two matches, and a paper cup full of water. Since this was early in the morning and I was on a campout which I knew was designed to test some of my skills and adaptability, I knew it was breakfast.

I wouldn’t have guessed one could boil an egg in a paper cup of water, but I did. Then I ate breakfast.

While that morning I was pretty sure what do do with what I was handed, I am often confused, or at least unsure, what to do with what I’m handed.

I mean, of course, things I am handed figuratively more than literally.

I am, like you are, probably, bombarded with claims and memes and “facts” about this or that. Some of them are true, actual, and valid, some of them are not.

What I really wonder, though, when such things are shared, is “What am I supposed to do with this?

You might ask the same thing of me. That’s only fair.

Here’s what I want when I share something with you, or give something to you: a reaction, a response; interaction. What do you think of this?  Do you agree? why or why not?

If you have any doubt, please feel free to ask me: “What am I supposed to do with this?”