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religion is crap (symptoms)

September 2, 2009

This is the third in a series of posts called “religion is crap” based on the same statement by Paul in Philippians 3.  Here are the first post and (more importantly) the second post defining what we mean by the word “religion”.


As stated in the previous post, Jesus taught that there are three basic ways to live…

  1. Irreligion which says, “I accept myself”
  2. Religion which says, “I am accepted by God because I obey”
  3. The gospel which says, “I am accepted by God because of Jesus”

Basically, religion is an attempt to earn God’s acceptance by “being good enough”.  While few (if any) of us would say that we are following the path of religion to God, many (if not all) of us have thoughts and emotions that are shaped by a religious attitude.  Just like a doctor who can’t see a human heart looks for symptoms to see if something is wrong, we should look for symptoms that show us where we are being shaped by religion as opposed to the gospel.

Here are some symptoms of religion…

  • Religious people will always be prone to either arrogance or self-loathing.  If the person feels they are being good enough they will feel superior to all the bad people who are not being good enough.  However, if a religious person does not feel they are being good enough they will often feel a hatred of themselves for being a failure.
  • People who are religious are prone to judgmentalism and find themselves looking down on those who are less religious than them.  They get angry or disgusted with people whose religious performance isn’t as good as theirs.
  • People who are shaped by religion instead of the gospel often speak in “us/them” language in their judgmentalism.  “Those gross homosexuals”, “Those stupid liberals”, “Those self-righteous conservatives”, “Those ignorant atheists”.  Gospel people live in humility, realizing that God’s acceptance of them isn’t a sign that they’re better than other groups of people.
  • Religion will cause you to feel rejected or separated from God when your performance isn’t “good enough”.  You will feel you cannot pray, read Scripture, or worship in communion with God if you’re week hasn’t been good enough.
  • Religious people get angry or bitter when suffering comes in their lives, feeling they have earned better treatment from God.  Their attitude in suffering is accusatory toward God – “I obeyed the rules; I deserve better!”
7 Comments leave one →
  1. Cynthia Dawn Willman permalink
    September 2, 2009 8:51 pm

    I total understand what you have said.can i post this on my facebook page so my friends can read this too.

  2. josh permalink
    September 2, 2009 8:51 pm

    Definitely, Dawn.

  3. Heather Michelle Perkins permalink
    September 3, 2009 7:28 am

    May I use this as well?

  4. Andrea permalink
    September 3, 2009 9:28 am

    Wow! These ladies are so polite! I didn’t even think to ask before posting a link a couple of weeks ago. Sorry Josh.

    This is a great synopsis of religion. It’s helpful because we can see these examples you’ve laid out and then look at ourselves. It helps us to know when to stop and fight against lies that are contrary to a gospel life. Sometimes there is a discouragement that you can’t really put your finger on, and number 1, 4, and 5 whisper into your life things that are not true. “I can’t talk to God because of all the sin I’ve struggled with lately.” or “I don’t deserve toil and strife because I’ve done my very best to follow the rules.”
    Those mentalities are poisonous to believers. Another thing this post made me think about was the lack of spiritual health when we allow ourselves to live in a religious realm. We are doing all of the right things, but our heart is not seeking God. We may be seeking his favor, but not His Lordship, not his transforming grace, not his power over our lives. And it causes us to digest spiritual food that is not healthy. We may appear full and bloated, but in reality we are weak and brittle. We could be striving and suffering for religious righteousness and starving to death. I’m thankful, though, that our Lord can breathe life into dead bones. He can free us from the prison of religion and into the life of joyfully living covered by Christ.

    Thanks for this post, Josh. This is a must keep.

  5. Andrea permalink
    September 3, 2009 12:22 pm

    I wish more people would write on this because I think this is a HUUUUGE problem in the church. This is an area where Satan really gets in there with his lies, thwarts the truth, and it actually sounds right, we actually believe that we have to check all of these blocks in order the receive favor from God.

    I have been to church after church where this has been a reality. It is such a devastation to see religion poison a church. It is fatal, I believe. It causes young men and women to step away from faith every day.

    So, sorry about the soapbox thing, but… this is a big deal to me! And now, I will step down!

  6. September 6, 2009 2:03 pm

    So many of us long to set aside religion. But when it has been instilled in us for decades, the journey to freedom is a very difficult one. We find the kinds of ideas and thoughts you reveal flooding our minds way too often. We despise them yet they appear, we try to throw them aside only for them to be flung back at us, they engulf our hearts and enrage our minds, we cannot seem to escape them.

    Perhaps this is another way we can know for certain that there is an enemy who still wants to hold us captive.


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