It’s not a Religion, it’s a Relationship!

I am sure you have heard the response, “It is a relationship, not a religion.” Christians, who want to defend their faith by separating their version of Christianity from the historically damaging one, usually give this response. The problem here is that if it isn’t a religion, then you aren’t doing it right (according to the Bible). Jesus was an extremely religious Jew who went to services at the synagogue. He observed Jewish holy days and had the utmost respect for the Law and the commandments, even going as far to say that he did not come to abolish the Law or the Prophets, but to fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). He also mentions that not one jot of tiddle of the Law would pass away until heaven and earth pass away, thereby exemplifying the importance of the Law. He founded the church (Matt. 16:18) by established church doctrine and discipline (Matt. 18:15-20). He instituted a ritual meal (Matt. 26:26-28) and told his disciples to baptize people and to teach others to obey everything he commanded (Matt. 28:19-20). He insisted that people believe in him and believe certain things about him (John 3:16-18; 8:24). If rituals, observances, doctrine, commandments, and structure characterize religion, then obviously Jesus was instituting a religion.

The history that is riddled with the corruption and evil of the Christian church makes Christians uneasy. They realize, at least subconsciously, that religion failed to be the moral precedent that it attempted to be. Any good that is done by religion can also be done by purely secular means without any ulterior motives. The Bible says that religion can also be good when it cares for widows and orphans and practices moral purity (James 1:27). The Bible also says that faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26) because the writers of these books of the Bible realized that they were instituting a religion, as well as participating in one. Contemporary Christians do not like the idea of being equated with the evils of the Christian church and while I would never equate them, they do need to realize that is a religion no matter how much they dislike the idea.

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