Sunday, June 10, 2012

Top Ten Alternatives to "Christianity Isn't a Religion..."

There's was a bit of a subcultural brouhaha a month or two ago over a viral video spoken word titled "I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus." It delighted many, angered some and no doubt confused others (not least non-Christians). You may or may not be familiar with the saying used in certain Christian circles that goes, "Christianity isn't a religion, it's a relationship." It's usually meant to mean that Christianity isn't about keeping rules in order to satisfy God's demands (what Protestants would call "legalism"), but rather a personal relationship with Jesus Christ based on God's gracious forgiveness to us through Jesus's atoning death and resurrection.

So, there's nothing wrong with the idea per se, except that it basically fails to communicate with people based on what the word "religion" means in common use. One must first learn what these people mean by religion (something man-made and legalistic) in order to get their point. The problem is, most people in our culture can't hear it that way because that's not how Western English-speakers talk about religion. And if, as a Christian, you walked around saying "Christianity is not a set of beliefs about transcendent reality and how humans fit into it, it's a relationship", you could be justly accused of agnosticism or worse.

I thought it could be fun and useful to think of some alternatives. Here's what I came up with:

10) Christianity is not an arbitrary list of rules that are impossible to follow, it's an offer from God to deliver us from how messed up we are.

9) Christianity is not a set of practices meant to appease the angry gods, it's a gracious entreaty of reconciliation from the one true God.

8) Christianity is not the opiate of the masses, it's the proclamation of a sacred kingdom which humbles the privileged and privileges the humble.

7) Christianity is not a vague sentiment about universal spirituality, it's a concrete revelation of the Triune God.

6) Christianity is not a privately held devotion mostly or only relevant to personal growth and self-actualization, it's public news about the incarnate God who acted once for all to redeem the whole earth from chaos, death and evil.

5) Christianity is not a cultural leftover of hegemonic nineteenth-century Eurocentric imperialism, it's a preserved tradition of oppressed first-century Palestinian radicalism.

4) Christianity is not an irrelevant tradition defended by pedophiles, it's a rich spiritual heritage epitomized by saints.

3) Christianity is not an intolerant suppressor of scientific truth, it's a celebration of the God who made the human mind and the created world it studies.

2) Christianity is not a lame killjoy that hates everything fun, it's a testimony to the wise living which unlocks the secret of enduring joy.

1) Christianity is not about us, it's about Jesus.

"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." ~ James 1:27


Rebecca said...


allison said...

You captured my thoughts in a much more eloquent, erudite way than I would ever cobble together. Lovely. And thanks.