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religion is crap: definition

August 25, 2009

This is the 2nd in a series of posts called “Religion is crap” based on the same statement by Paul in Philippians 3.  Click here to see the first post.


Christians usually talk about two ways that a person can live their life – God’s way and man’s way.  Jesus in Scripture, on the other hand, is always communicating that there are three ways to live:

Irreligion – “I accept myself”

Religion – “I am accepted because I obey”

Gospel – “I am accepted because of Jesus”

Irreligious people are often theologically and politically liberal, usually speak in terms of self-acceptance, tend to label sinful attitudes and actions only as mental or physical disorders that people are victim to, and either downplay or deny that people are guilty before God because of their sin.  “Sin-talk” often angers irreligious people because “you don’t need to change who you are, you need to accept who you are.”  They are enablers.

Religious people (on whom we are focusing) are often theologically and politically conservative, usually frame conversations in terms of morality and “doing the right thing”, and tend to either downplay or deny in practice the fact that we are accepted by God because of faith in Jesus and not because of our moral or religious performance.  Forgiveness and acceptance-talk often anger religious people because they feel the guilty party “has not paid his due.”  Religious people are judgmental.

The Gospel that Jesus calls us to, on the other hand, asks us to embrace both parts of a latin phrase that Reformers like Martin Luther used: “simul iustus et peccator”.  It means “at the same time righteous and sinful.”  Gospel people don’t look down on “sinful people” and judge them because they understand they are not morally superior to anyone – everyone is in the same category of “sinful”.  But they are also not enablers of sin because they see the price God paid to purchase our acceptance in Jesus’ broken, bloodied, naked body at The Cross.  They display a humble confidence and trust only in Jesus for God to accept them.

This series of posts is focusing on “religion”.  Simply put, religion is the false path to God that says you can be accepted and loved by Him through your moral performance.  If you are good enough, God will accept you.  Mark Driscoll, a smart pastor in Seattle, says that religion manifests itself in three distinct ways…

  1. Loosely religious people assume they are living a good enough life.
  2. Secular religious people work very hard at some social cause because they think that they are good people and need to overcome the evil of bad people who are ruining the world.
  3. Devoutly religious people work very hard at keeping the rules of a particular religion in an effort to justify themselves as good and obedient people in the sight of God.

The next post in this series will be up next Wednesday and will focus on symptoms of religion in your heart.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. heather perkins permalink
    August 26, 2009 2:27 pm

    I love this post. Very well explained!! (:

  2. Susan Howerton permalink
    August 28, 2009 1:50 pm

    I think these posts are so important. They really challenge me to look at myself, to examine my actions and how they match up with my faith, and to gain an understanding of the differences you explained so I can understand where others are coming from and relate my faith in a more effective way. I know lots of people that feel they have suffered spiritual abuse from “Christian people”, mistakenly assuming the terms “Christian” and “religious” are synonymous, and therefore never open their hearts to the gospel. Granted, sometimes it has definitely been from “Gospel people/Christians” that have been judgmental or spread gossip or hurt them, and the church, in some other way. I’ve often heard it said that the church is just a hospital for sinners and it is true. Without making excuses for our sinful behavior and enabling the perpetuation of it, we must all admit that we make mistakes and be willing to ask forgiveness of God and the one we’ve harmed and then do everything in our power to humbly rectify it so as not to repel someone
    away from the church or from Christ. When we don’t make those last steps, we cut off our nose to spite our face and end up harming the integrity of the Gospel that Christ died for. We, therefore, display behavior no different than the “irreligious” people, downplaying their guilt before God, or “religious” people, judgmental and unwilling to forgive and therefore not seeing their own need for forgiveness. Both sometimes causing irreparable damage. Not a good place to be… “but for the grace of God go I”.


  1. religion is crap (symptoms) « Evangelical Village

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