What Is Religion? » Are You Religious
Religion - A Deadly Counterfeit
C. R. Lord © 2012
What exactly do we mean when we talk about "religion? Let's consider some definitions from various sources to see if we can come up with some realistic idea of what religion really is.
From the 1969 Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary
"The expression of man's belief in and reverence for a superhuman power recognized as the creator and governor of the universe. Any particular integrated system of this expression. The spiritual or emotional attitude of one who recognizes the existence of a superhuman power or powers."
Miriam Webster's Online Dictionary
(1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance 2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices 3: archaic scrupulous conformity : conscientiousness
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
Penguin Dictionary of Religions (1997)
"A general term used to designate all concepts concerning the belief in god(s) and goddess(es) as well as other spiritual beings or transcendental ultimate concerns."
"To be religious is to have one's attention fixed on God and on one's neighbor in relation to God." - C.S. Lewis, "Lilies that Fester" in The Twentieth Century (April 1955). THIS QUOTE IS SPOT ON! The Bible makes it clear that the two greatest commandments in the Bible are to Love God above all beings and to love your neighbor as yourself. Most of the world's religions believe this as well and express it in one way or the other through their teachings and/or practices.
"Religion itself is nothing else but Love to God and Man. He that lives in love lives in God, says the Beloved Disciple: And to be sure a Man can live no where better." - William Penn THIS QUOTE IS ALSO RIGHT ON TARGET! Loving God is the primary purpose for our existence, and in loving God we live far better lives and bless many people in the course of our life. The opposite way of living is to be self-centered, crude, arrogant, hateful, and overcome with evil. That kind of life blesses nobody including the one living it.
"Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opiate of the people." Karl Marx THIS QUOTE COMES FROM A MAN WHOSE LIFE WORK WAS TO OPPRESS OTHERS!
"Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence; it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines." - Bertrand Russell THIS IS A STATEMENT OF HOPELESSNESS! This statement exalts the person who makes it and is a stench in the nostrils of God, who will exalt those who humble themselves and will also humble those who choose to exalt themselves. Placing his trust in human intellect he worships at the feet of reason and science and ignores spiritual truth at his own peril. Mankind's intellect is only a puny pittance compared to the infinite knowledge of God, and yet those who choose to follow this idea of what is and isn't real somehow deem themselves to be wiser than God. This is a tragedy of great proportions. Having a high IQ is a great hindrance to simple faith!
"Pure religion and undefiled before God the Father is this: To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." - James 1:27, New Testament.
HERE IS THE TRUTH AT LAST! Pure religion that is truly undefiled (that is clean through and through) before God the Father is defined by God himself. It is in service to mankind and in running from the natural wickedness that swallows men up and sends them out into eternity unprepared and without hope to face the one true and living God in all his holiness and power on the day of judgment.
But those who would spurn God are not alone in their foolishness. There are many living in the world who are religious in the worst sense. They are the focus of this page and other pages on this site. From the view that I hold, Christianity does not fall into the category of religion. The following should clarify what I am talking about. Some will be offended by what I am about to write, but it is impossible to take a stand without meeting opposition so I truly understand. We live in a generation where men run from truth and love ideology and philosophy and even religion of various kinds.
Religion is man's attempt to do something or anything to please what they perceive to be a God of wrath and judgment. They never know if they have done enough to please God and live in fear of retribution. They have never been taught about God's love or they refuse to believe God loves them. People in this group go through all kind of spiritual exercises such as genuflecting, repetitious religious phrases, bowing to statues, offering up burnt offerings or other sacrifices, attending worship or other such services, dress a certain way, avoid some places and things they believe will appear on their record on the day of judgment, praying to dead saints, counting beads, chanting, meditating on their god, gods or goddesses, inflicting physical harm on themselves, teaching hate of others and especially those who subscribe to other beliefs, killing infidels (those who don't subscribe to their particular brand of religion), and a myriad of other things that fail to satisfy the soul and lead to a bitter and hopeless end to life on earth and a horrifying eternity afterward.
Then there are those who claim to believe the Bible or at least use it in some way or other, but their teachings are based on a few scattered scriptures which form the whole foundation or basis of their belief system. These are people like Jim Jones who go off in their head and cause irreparable harm to those who follow them. In America there is Fred Phelps who teaches that God hates homosexuals and that all who live in that lifestyle are doomed to Hell. The love of God certainly isn't in his message and he is a false teacher and not a servant of God at all. He is one of those who drive men, woman and children away from God, and he will reap his just reward if he doesn't repent of what he is doing.
There are also cults which modify scripture to fit their doctrine and teachings. There are others who respect the Bible as a great book, but refuse to accept it as the Word of God to mankind. Many of these people are the false teachers in churches across the land who claim to believe the Bible but have accepted practices and embraced wickedness in order to be non-offensive to others. They are the false teachers who give false comfort to sinners in their seeker friendly churches that harbor every evil under the sun and lead men ever closer to an eternity separated from God. Some of the saddest of all religious people are those who believe with all sincerity that they love God and his word and try their best to live it out, but they only dote on the sweets of God's word. They do not want to hear the parts of the Bible that demand obedience to God and his laws and commandments. They refuse to listen to any messages that make them uncomfortable and find others to be offensive who are strictly adhering to scripture and declare that we are all supposed to do the same. They feel that God is all love and goodness, and despise the teachings of God's wrath and coming judgment. The words commitment and self-sacrifice to the point of dying for your faith are never welcome in the churches they attend. Their religion is the religion of the hypocrite, and those who attend that kind of church are deluded and unaware of their danger. It is disheartening to see so much wasted effort, knowing that, in the end, it will all be exposed as worthless when they stand before God. How horrible to believe that you lived a life that was pleasing to God only to find out that you were deceived and eternally lost.
There are many religions in the world, many idols, many irreligious people, and they will all come to one end. The day will come when people of all religious persuasions must face the reality of what they believe or refuse to believe. We will all die. Immediately after death every person who ever lived will either be in the grave and insensitive to anything forever or they will wake up on the other side of death to find out that there really is a spiritual world and that it is eternal.
IT IS QUITE AMAZING TO ME THAT MANY PEOPLE REFUSE TO EVEN EXAMINE AT LEAST SOME BELIEF SYSTEM TO DETERMINE WHETHER IT IS TRUE OR NOT WHEN SO MUCH COULD DEPEND ON BELIEVING RIGHT CONCERNING IT!
For the record, though, I am fully persuaded that deep down inside every one of us there is evidence planted by the God of the Bible as to his reality. (Romans 1:19-20) Those who refuse to believe that are just suppressing what they know deep down to be true; that there is a God and that one day, whether they want to or not, they will give a strict accounting for the life they were entrusted with. On that day all mankind will gather before God's throne and every thought, word and act will be on display for the whole universe to witness. There will be no place to hide, no denying our sinfulness, no denying God's righteous judgment on those who rebelled against him and died in their sin, no doubt that those who lived for and loved God were true in how they presented him, no doubt as to the wages of sin and the sentence passed on each unrepentant sinner, and no denying of eternity, either with God or separated from him forever.
ARE YOU RELIGIOUS? ARE YOU IRRELIGIOUS? DO YOU CARE?
If you died this very moment do you know beyond all doubt whether you will continue on forever or just rot in a grave? If you don't have assurance of eternal life, will you begin to do something more than hold to your opinion? Will you check it out before you find out it is real on the other side of the grave where there is no hope of forgiveness or salvation? Would you rather die believing a lie and find yourself facing this truth after death? ARE YOU FOLLOWING A LIE? HAVE YOU EVER EXAMINED BELIEFS THAT DON'T LINE UP WITH YOUR OWN? ARE YOU AFRAID TO? If you fear to examine other beliefs then it is certain that you don't fully believe what you say you do, and if you say you are certain, you are deceiving yourself.
CAN YOU STAND TRUTH THAT ISN'T VARNISHED, OR IS WHAT I AM SAYING HARD OR OFFENSIVE TO YOU? Would you care more about my words if you were lying on your death bed or would they continue to be offensive to you even as you passed on into eternity?
I AM A STRAIGHT SHOOTER. You are not required to believe a word I say until after you die, but then, if I am correct, it will be too late for you. IF I DIDN'T LOVE YOU ENOUGH TO BE WILLING TO BE HATED FOR MY WORDS IF IT WOULD DELIVER YOUR SOUL FROM ETERNAL DAMNATION I WOULD TRY TO BE ALL NICE, WARM AND FUZZY! I will never do that. I believe with all my heart what I am saying, and because I do, I will risk offending anyone who reads my words for the chance that one more person will find God's consolation, forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ.
Where you stand on religion is important, beyond all things that you know. It is imperative that you understand for sure what you believe before you pass into eternity! Don't allow this very important message to pass you by or make you bitter. Your eternal welfare could well depend on what you do with this today.