Sunday, October 16, 2011

Religion vs Spirituality


This was a letter to an author of some articles on the church I had read. I agreed with him on a lot of points, it was just his definition of religion I was wondering about. Here is our correspondence: 

Ken,

I really enjoy your articles. I have a couple comments though. I totally understand your hatred towards the institutions of christianity. But by equating the institutions with religion and then hating on religion I feel is a bit misdirected. Websters definition of religion from back in 1828 was:

1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion.

The book of James defines pure religion as: Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their afflictions, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. -Ja 1:27

However, the modern definition of religion seems to be:
5. the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.(dictionary.com)

If religion was solely the rituals and practices of our beliefs, I would be against it too. But the definition seems to have evolved over time from the reverence of God, which prompts us to do works, to simply the works themselves. I am against the redefining of religion, not religion itself. But even religion in todays terms, if intertwined with the spiritual and personal relationship with Yeshua and Our Father, is not a bad thing.

Every time we (I once was very vocal in my opposition to the term of religion as well, along with a lot of people I know) rant about religion negatively, we are reinforcing this new and false definition of religion.

Thoughts?

Your brother in Christ,
Tim



Hi Tim, I understand your position.  However, your 1828 Webster's definition is fully out of date when compared to the beliefs and practices of those participating in religious institutions today.  And that is my problem.  Most people today equate church going and following religious (man-made) traditions and rituals with having a relationship with God.  It is not.  As I point out in many of my articles, religion today promotes an ever-changing standard of morality, which they confuse with true spirituality.  The diference is that spirituality is submitting to God (His commands, His standards, His personal instruction to the individual), while morality (and religion) is following the dictates of the institution.  And, every one of them have different standards and practices.  Remember, the very definition you cite comes from man, not God.  Abraham was not a religious man, he was a spiritual man.  So was David and any number of men in Scripture.  I do not believe I am reinforcing a new or false definition of religion, I'm simply pointing out the reality of what most religions and religious institutions are all about today.  I think you know that they have no affinity with what the Scriptures teach.  There is no mandate in Scripture that justifies the existence of any religious denomination or institution you could name.  God did not instruct any man to establish the Catholic church, or the Lutheran or Methodist or Baptist, etc.  In fact, when Jesus returns to the earth to establish His millennial kingdom, one of the first things He is going to do is outlaw all religions (including the many branches of Christianity), and everyone will be required to worship Him and submit to His commands or suffer the consequences.  Why would anyone who understands truth want to participate in something that is going to be done away with?  Therefore, I will respectfully stand by what I have written.  Your friend, Ken 


Brother Ken,

I understand the 1828 Websters definition is out of date, but that’s the problem. The definition of religion back in 1828 was much more spiritually based. I completely agree that today’s problem is that people associate the Christian religion with going to church and not doing bad things. The personal, 24/7 relationship with Jehovah and Yeshua is swept under the rug and almost forgotten. It is a sad, sad thing. However, I feel like this (people associating religion with institution) is due to the misunderstanding and misuse of the term religion.
Your very definition of spirituality - spirituality is submitting to God (His commands, His standards, His personal instruction to the individual), is basically what the definition of religion was according to Webster (who was a very godly man, and even has his own translation of the bible) back in 1828 - in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life. Do you see how similar the two are?

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