Thursday, February 3, 2011

No Kind of Religion At All

Via Justin Taylor:
“In a sermon Dick Lucas once preached, he recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her neighbor in Rome.
“Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple or holy place?”

“We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”

“No temple? But where do your priests work and do their ritual?”

“We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”

“No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”

“We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”

“What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.

And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all.”

—- Tim Keller, King’s Cross: The Story of the World in the Life of Jesus, p. 48.
Of course there is the work of religion within followship of Jesus (James 1:27, etc), but even this distinguishes Christianity from all other religions. In Christianity, Jesus is the shape of salvation and good works are part of the "insides." In Islam, Hinduism, Judaism, LDS, what-have-you, good works are the shape and the substance. In this sense, Christianity is no religion at all.


Jason Wert said...

I like that. And when "religion" comes into the mix with Christianity, it usually causes a big mess.

cjbooth85 said...

I appreciate your level-headed comment about 'religion.' Your term regarding Christian religion, 'within the fellowship of Jesus' and it's contrast in other faiths, 'the shape and the substance' is helpful.

It's cool these days for Christians to diss 'religion' as we insist that 'it's not about religion, it's about relationship.' True enough. I always hesitate to join in, though. Not because I think that religion is the shape and substance, but because the word, 'religion' is right there in James 1:27. I am uncomfortable with dissing the word without making the distinction you did, so thanks for the post.

Benjer McVeigh said...

Great parable. We follow Jesus, not a religion.