Spiritual but not Religious?

By: Antipas Harris
Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

Lately, I have been hearing more and more Christians speaking negatively about the notion of being religious. They say things like “I am spiritual but I am not religious.” Others say, “I am in relationship with God but I am not religious.” Often, I even hear preachers say, “Don’t be religious.” Or, in their sermons, they speak negatively about being religious.

Such negative references to being religious strike me as strange. Why would Christians (who are also called ”People of the Book”), distance themselves from being called religious?

Perhaps, we need to revisit the meaning of the term “religion.” The term comes from Latin and means “to bind one’s self.” Religion, moreover, means to bind or discipline one’s self to moral principles and practices and, furthermore, to express those commitments publicly and unashamedly.

Perhaps, in our increasingly secularized world people are less and less interested in discipline– even Christians. However, at the inception of Christianity, before the followers of Jesus were called Christians, they were called “disciples of Jesus.”

I submit that everyone who claims “relationship with Jesus” or who emphasize “Christian spirituality” must by definition of what it means to be emissaries of Christ also be religious. By this, I mean that it is impossible to have a relationship with Jesus without binding one’s self to Christ’s teachings and moral principles.

Christian spirituality is vibrant as the transcendent Spirit of Christ that dwells in humans who receive Christ. This Spirit of Christ disciplines us to walk and be as Christ in the world. It is, therefore, impossible for Christians to be Spiritual but not religious.

It seems that when people distance themselves from being called “religious,” they really mean something else. The first possibility is that we do not want Christianity to stand alongside other Religions of the world. So, to disassociate Christianity from the language of “religion” is an effort to articulate the unique character of Christianity– we can have a vibrant relationship with a living God through Jesus Christ rather than idols, etc.

The second possibility is that certain brands of Christianity with which we are familiar are distasteful. For example, if one has had interactions with a group of Christians or a particular brand of churches that subscribe to very strict rules about dress, food, worship, behavior and days of worship with which one disagrees, it could leave “a bad taste in my mouth” about God and church. So, when I find a brand of Christianity with which one agrees, that person might say that this is “relationship and not religion”– referring to the past experience as “religion and not relationship.”

The third possibility is that some churches are dry in worship expressions and do little for the vitality of the community. So, when one finds a community that is softer on teachings of “holiness” with little accountability, one feels free. But that freedom is individualistic and disconnected from communal subscription to holistic teachings of holiness. In other words, one is free to live and act at will rather than free to live and act according to teachings and principles that impact Christian wholeness.

It is a poor interpretation of “freedom to do as I feel” to name it “freedom in the Spirit.” Freedom in the Spirit should not be confused with “having my way.” What one really means is “freedom to live as I feel and still be in good standing with my church.”  Churches, today, do not emphasize total discipleship (but that is a blog for another day). The question for today is, What does Jesus expect of me– relationship or religion? I submit that Jesus expects us to discipline ourselves to His teachings and the teachings of the New Testament. These teachings address all of life– even the parts of life that we rather not. There is no way to separate holistic discipline from a vibrant relationship with Jesus

In summary, to separate “Christian Spirituality and religion” or “relationship and religion” is a false bifurcation. While some churches might have it wrong pertaining to specific rules of conduct, dress, food, etc, true Christian Spirituality and authentic relationship with God through Jesus Christ has something to say about total human experience including how we behave, how we dress, how we eat, how we live, how we relate to others, etc.

Let’s seek true discipleship with Christ. That involves a relationship that is religious, by the true definition of the term– religious.

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Antipas Harris
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24 Responses to “Spiritual but not Religious?”

  1. Yolanda J. says:

    Dr. A.,
    What an interesting topic! I would like to offer my opinion, so here goes. I think that many Christians have gotten away from the discipline that is required of us. I think when people say they don’t want to be considered “religious,” it’s more of the stereotypes that go along with that. However, some people feel that one can still maintain a valid relationship with God and not be so extreme. This is true, but what is considered extreme? Well, that depends on who you are talking to. Many times when people consider someone religious, it puts them more in the spotlight than they may want. In some cases, non-believers are turned off by so-called religious people because their imperfections are so obvious. With these types, no one ever seems to be good enough, or saved enough! In my opinion, I see no wrong in being religious because in many cases it separates you from the world, as your relationship with God should. At the same time, it puts one under a constant observation, so when you FINALLY mess up (as we all do sometimes) everyone seemingly looks at your situation with their pointed fingers and you are JUDGED. They say, “Look! You see that? I just knew it! Nobody’s that holy.” Is it completely possible that you understand that you could never be a picture of holy perfection? Perhaps one is simply trying to walk on the straight and narrow path with the Lord and somewhere along the way, they got distracted and stumbled. Maybe they completely fell down! As one’s journey with the Lord goes on, one might find his or herself in one of the enemy’s infamous traps. Our walk with the Lord should make us delegates for God’s kingdom and the Holy Spirit should persuade others to have some of what we’re having. My problem isn’t being so-called religious, but it’s the things that those people say versus what they actually do. They say, forgive, but they don’t. They say to abide by the word, but they don’t. For example, I was talking to a young lady just the other day and she was becoming tired of searching for a mate. I recommended that she fellowship with like minded Christians, pray and seek God. I told her that if she was serious, she should talk to the Lord and offer him the sacrifice of her body. My belief is, when you come before the father, you need to put everything on the altar. So, I encouraged her to remain celibate until she was married. Interestingly enough, she was on the same page with me until I said that! She said, “That could take forever!” I then told her that the Lord works in his own time and gives you what you need, but it’s not always based on your personal desires. Even though she has been a Christian for many years, she blatantly told me, “No. I’m not doing that.” I’ve talked to several friends, relatives, peers, co-workers and many people in the kingdom about the very same thing. Sacrifice. I understand that no one is perfect (well, Jesus was), but it amazes me every, single time how often that “NO” this is their response. Ultimately, I understand they haven’t really told me no, in their hearts, they’ve told God no. Yet, when dealing with the very same group of folks, if someone was homosexual, divorced or pregnant out of wedlock, they are so quick to chime in about the Lawd! What is that? That is exactly what people call being “religious.” The term may be used out of context many times (as you have appropriately defended the term in your statement), but that’s what many people think of when they use the term “religious”. I call it, The “BIG I, little u” syndrome. When it’s convenient and the judgment is placed on some other poor soul, it’s not really “them,” it’s the “conviction of the Holy Spirit.” But if one dares to call into question the conviction of the Holy Spirit in their wrong doings, the church is often silent. Personally, when used in context, as Christians we should all be religious. There is a standard. The Lord gave it to us all in his Holy word. But, some don’t want to address those standards because in doing so, their own dirty, filthy mess will come to light. It’s time for us to stop using “religion” as a cop out for not holding Christians accountable. We need to stand fast on the principle of Godliness and not just when it’s convenient for us. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forevermore. (Hebrews 13:8) But are we? As Christians, shouldn’t we be trying to be more like HIM?

    • Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

      Thanks Yolanda. Interesting thoughts. Yet, we can not define who we are by people who do not understand what it means to be religious. To be religious as Christians means to love and refrain from judging. Yet, it also means that we must strive to remain faithful to the ways and life of Christ as expressed in Christian Scripture. The power to witness Christ in profession and possession comes by the Holy Spirit.

  2. David says:

    Many people I know will say “I am spiritual but not religious” but what they are trying to say is “I am not legalistic”.
    The term “Religious Spirit” is bandied about so much nowadays that the mere connotations associated with the word “religious” is now negative, and the true meaning is lost in all the hyper-spiritual jargon.
    Th real religious spirit is one which takes anything of God, not just His laws, and latches more importance to them than to Him, and that can include “being unreligious”.
    We are bound to Christ and bound to the Cross, but the lashings are not thorns or nails but the chords of His love. It is a joy to be bound to Him!
    A wedding ring is called a ball and chain but ONLY by those who see it’s rigid structure as a prison and not a temple :) Who would say – “I am a husband but not married”? They are part and parcel and are the binding together of role, identity, will, heart & obligation & are set in covenant, just like true Christianity should be.

    • Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

      What is legalism? Is it bad? Who said its bad? Perhaps, people are really speaking of “certain practices” unwarranted in Christian Scriptures. Oh! Well that is a different discussion! Lets talk about those particular practices.

      David, I am not following your conversation about “a wedding ring.” Please help me understand what you are saying.

  3. PJ says:

    I think this is a great article by both parties. As apart of a denomination that unfortunately has a history of legalism I can understand why some people “hate” the term religious. I think most “Christians” would say they are religious, but in our culture today the term “religious” doesn’t bring with it very positive vibes. I think that’s why some people are staying away from the term, but whether it be religious, holiness, sanctification, or whatever I think in their “purest” forms they are beautiful, but when people get a hold of them they can turn the ugly.

    I will say this, as I a child and teen I was very put off by the “religious” types of the legalist. But as I have gotten older, I have begun to see that God will judge them by their heart. Now I agree that we can disagree that what they believe is an “extreme” or “legalism” but I met a lot of them who really thought they were “sinning”. I hope the Holy Spirit can reveal their flawed theology, but at the same time, they are really living out their convictions, whether it is right or wrong and to an extent, all that matters is that they are obeying. i used to hate quote “religious” types because this is how I associated them, but now that I’m older, I have at least recognized that they had great zeal in pursing the Lord, even though it might be a little extreme.

    Just a thought!

    Jess

    • Yolanda J. says:

      Jess! Bro! What great feedback! I agree with you completely! Only God can judge the hearts of men and it is always commendable when one has a hunger for truth! Jesus said, “I am the truth, the life and the only way. No man comes to the Father but by me.” John 14:6 If you’ve ever been on a farm, some “creatures” consume more food than others. Since we are all God’s creations, and while some of us have made the decision to become his children, our appetites vary. As long as we are all able to partake in the body, we all win! The good news is all are afforded the same opportunity to partake in the meal, which is God’s word. :-)

    • Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

      I suppose we need a clearer understanding of “legalism.” Is legalism bad? If so, why? And are we really saying that “certain requirements” in institutionalized churches are unwarranted? If we are, we should address the particularizies and not throw out everything related to disciplines of holiness.

  4. Darla says:

    Like the blog. Food for thought. However while the true definition of religion may preclude a division from spiritual, that definition may have been loss in the passage of time. Many time it seems people associate being religious with a particular church and they are seeking to distance themselves from organized religion, which may have been the… See More source of intense pain and deep wounds that have not healed. However some folks just don’t want the discipline that being religous or being spiritual truly requires and they are just copping out.

    • Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

      well, yes, if the issue is “organized” or “institutionalized” religion, then we should say that. But we can not “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” If you know what I mean. Somehow, we need to return to the language of holy living. Religion, in its purest sense, seeks to subscribe to practices and principles applicable for everyday life. In the Christian’s case, that should be the practices and principles that please God.

  5. Joe McDaniel says:

    I have mixed emotions about it – It is by the foolishness of preaching that men are saved I Cor 1:21. I agree that at the bottom of preaching and philosophy there is much foolishness :) no offense. I’m a preacher too. However, works-based religion and erred traditional discipline or practice IS religion, which frequently makes the Word of God of non affect Mark 7:13. True – a broad and secular definition of our fatih is religion, but when we get “right” down to it, Sonship is NOT a religion – it is rather identity- to the core! Providentially, there is a huge differnece between the two. It has become too easy to get that twisted among believers. So, we often need non-academic “preaching” to correct erred behaviors and unfruitful secularized traditions or laymen. – Great observations Antipas. I have mixed emotions – Joe McDaniel

    • Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

      Joe, I think you introduce an interesting thought about Sonship and “daughtership.” There are several different images to draw into the discussion. There is also, “friendship … See Morewith God,” “servants of Christ” etc. All of these and other images are good for discussion. Yet, they all paint slightly different pictures of believers’ relationship with Christ; even at times these images pose conflicts among themselves. For example, are we sons and daughters or servants (slaves)? Yet both images are stated in scripture. Can we be both sons and daughters and servants (slaves) of Christ? Well, I think so! The point I am making is that comparing images of relationship is another conversation for another blog. For this blog, it is important to deal with the issue at hand. Certainly, your commentary is relevant to the issue of academic/versus non-academic definitions. Yet, I think that the academy must serve the church. There is too much “lack of knowledge” and lack of language precision in the church. So, the church makes up its own language that makes little sense. …. This is why we need more “doctors for the church”… And this is what I aim to be…. We should continue this conversation.

      • Joe McDaniel says:

        Dr. Harris, what we do (discipline & practice) has a direct correlation with who we (think) we are and how we behave – as a body of believers. Proper understanding of identity corrects behavior. As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (Prov. 23:7). This notion of how we think of the term “religion” is a matter of the heart, not so much an academic excursion. I think the issue which brought the church to shift from the term “religion” is that we are NOT saved by works of any religous sort, not that any should boast in “religious” works (Eph 2:8,9). But more particularly, salvation comes through Faith in knowing who Jesus is and who we are, as a result. This conversation is (in my humble opinion) a matter of identity. Researching a dictionary term is easy – and well understood. However, correcting parishioner behavior and balanced thinking is not, but this IS the mission of the perfected church. True salvation is always a relevant discussion, especially when the topic of practical theology is marginally raised. Much respect Sir.

  6. Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

    Joe, all we have to communicate is language. And language carries meaning. Yet, my article does not merely correct rhetoric and word choice. Rather, intrinsic to this discussion is a problem. The problem is that Biblical holiness is compromised when we escape into the lack of accountability. The way we think if Spirituality is individualistic– me and my relationship with God. So, noone else can either gauge it or direct it. Its just “me and Jesus.” Religion carries with it a communal accountability. In an increasingly secular society, people are more and more uncomfortable with language of ‘community’ and communal accountability. Communal accountability is lost in the language of ‘judgement.” But there is a difference! Community is how we grow and support each other in the ways, principles and teachings of Christ. The way we speak of “personal salvation” that is Spiritual but not religious, distances the communal aspect of Christianity. And that is part of what I am getting at with this article. I do not aim to throw out the personal intimacy of Christianity. Rather, this article seeks to preserve that but as part of the intrisic nature of Christianity as “true religion.”

    • Joe McDaniel says:

      As a brother and friend, Please allow me to propose a better title for your article. “Biblical holiness is compromised when we escape into the lack of accountability”. Now ……we’re talking…..But, unfortunately, I can’t take the credit for that proposed title, written by your pen :)

      I fully agree with you on this point. Communal accountibility is necessary for the mature believer. However, I don’t know that I (personally) would classify communal accountibility as religion. This does seem a bit distant. I suppose the word choice is a matter of preference. It could be considered “religious” at its rudimentary state and strictly from a literary point of view.

      But, for some reaon, I’d like to think that Christianity is far more seperated from that of “religion”. Perhaps this innate feeling comes from not choosing to be on par with other religions. The thought of this is repulsive to the neo-church, I believe. This is also repulsive to God. God takes holiness and/or seperation – the called out – etimogically, very seriously. He is at war with other religions. For example, Moses’s serpent and the Magician’s serpent; Elijah’s fire from Heaven in opposition to false prophets; the battle of the idols, where God struck his competition; Paul’s irritation with the soothsayer,. etc. etc.

      If I were to take your angle literally, there would be no other religion. In essence, there is only one True religion, taking your notion of communial accountibility. However, this broad stroke of the term is actually all-inclusive, which creates a fundamental problem for the children of Abraham. Thus, I, along with many theologians, are choosing to dissassociate with the term “religion”, because of the confusion of identity and that of behaviorial confusion which should not be linked to the holiness of the True and Living God.

      “Obey those who have rule over you, for they watch for your soul (Heb. 13:17)” – communal accountibility right? This is a New Testament law, which shapes our thinking. I imagine you would view this relationship as “religion”. I’ll buy that from a secular point of view, but not from a spiritual point of view, as you might agree.

      Another distiction of religion and Christianity is this. Religion is strictly guided by written laws. But conversely, the law is written on the hearts of those who have become Sons and Daughters of YHWH (Rom 2:15). I submitt that the term “religion” to the core may functionally be against the purpose and identity of God and his called-out one’s. There is a sharp distinction between religion and how God chooses to identify himself. Hear oh Israel. The Lord our God is one. He is Holy. Christianity is not a religion of choice. Fundamentally, Christianity is in an entirely different caegory. Blending Christianity (again) into the category of “religion”, or religioius accountibility, or religious tradition is risky business and a bit far fetched from the purpose of Paul’s writtings in my opinion.

      It’s been a pleasure my friend. Iron sharpening Iron (Prov 27:17)

      • Antipas Harris Dr. A says:

        Joe, there are few comments:

        1. My title is a question and not a statement. So, to critique the question seems far-reaching as I started the conversation.

        2. Your critique of my discussion continues to reach for a different discourse than the one I propose. My discussion is only suggesting that if we take terms seriously “spirituality” and “religion,” it is an oxymoron to separate the two. Contemporary contentions that seek to bifurcate these terms as legitimate Christian practice seem misleading.

        3. Bro, none of your scripture references deflate my premise. It is no denying that Biblical Christianity emphasizes personal conversion and personal spirituality as well as disciplined lifestyle of holiness. And this life of holiness is not a vertical aspiration. It is communal.

        Therefore, I suggest that the critiques on Christianity as spiritual but not religious must subside. In proper usage of the terms, Christianity is both Spiritual and Religious.

  7. Joe McDaniel says:

    Well said Rev. Dr.

    I’ll rest my case. I think the jury will be out on this one for a while. I admire your professionalism, stance, character, and scholarship. You are indeed a blessing to the body of Christ, and a great role model for the brothers – and sisters – in Christ of course :)

    Congratulations to you and Micah – We’re all very excited for you both !!

    joe

  8. Sally Jo Shelton says:

    I agree with you, Dr. A. Religion is not a four-letter word. James used it: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27). So, even though some people may have bad associations with the word, true religion, that which is “pure and undefiled before God,” is something to be embraced, not shunned. The challenge for individual Christians and for the Church as a whole is to so live and so love one another that the true meaning of religion is revealed rather than distorted.

    • Joe McDaniel says:

      Hello Sally Jo.

      Let’s take a literal journey of the biblical use of the term “religion”, if I must, beginning with your citation.

      Jam1:27
      “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” KJV

      The term used in the passage comes from “θρησκεία” – which more literally means “worship” in Konia Greek, rather than the english meaning “religion”, which means to bind to a set of values, practices, or values.

      “Worship” and “Religion” has two different connotations. It seems that the King James may have miscontrued the two.

      Pure (worship) is to visit the fatherless and widows, etc. This is a good thing, but this is not the true meaning of the English term “religion”. Jesus supports this notion of visiting the least of which is the same as visiting him. (Matt. 25:45) Worship is a good thing, but not religion so much. May we continue.

      Acts 26:5
      “Which knew me from the beginning if they would testify that after the most straitest sect of our “religion” I lived a Pharisee” – KJV

      The Jews’ type of worship was that of the Pharisees, which was a type of whorship, which was in direct conflict with the worship that Jesus expects.

      Matt: 23:23
      Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. – KJV

      Let’s look at other uses of the term religion and the behavior of the Pharisees.

      Gal. 1:13
      For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: KJV

      Notice here that after the Jew’s religion, Paul was actually doing something of which he later became very ashamed. – he was persecuting the Saints, in the name of what the KJV calls religion. How is “worship” the same as persecuting the saints. Well, “worship does not mean to persecute the saints. Paul admits that in this behavior, he lived as a Pharisee. Everything in the New Testament Bible shuns Pharisee-like behavior, which is really “religious” behavior. It was most often very legalistic.

      I repeat: the KJV has a co-mingled meanings of the term “religion” with worship, which is a honorable thing. The KJV interprets religion from a different meaning than from of the James passage, which means to worship – a good thing.

      In this passage (Gal. 1:13) religion comes from – Ἰουδαϊσμῷ – Judaism. So, from where did the term “religion” come from, since there is not a direct meaning of religion in the Greek. It is actually an assumption, and aid, which the KJV inteprepters used. The KJV version sees the term “religion” as a cross between “human service” and “worship”. However, these two English terms can have considerbly different meanings, depending upon the context.

      It is important that we not confuse the two, as one could assume that human service means the same as “worship”, which is not exclusive to human worship.

      Col 2:20
      If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, 21“Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!” 22(which all refer to things destined to perish with use)—in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? 23These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made “religion” and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence. NASB

      Allow me to quickly summarize : Persecuting the Saints, Pharisee-like behavior, and self-made religion, which has no value. – Very similar to a 4-letter word, to use your analogy.

      So, in the words of a negro spiritual, : “do you have good religion”

      As Dr. Harris mentioned, let’s continue this dialogue.

      -Joe McDaniel

      • Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

        Wow! I love the discourse here. Joe, my comment is brief. While your grammatical exegesis is on point, there is one point missing. The translators of the KJV are likely to have understood religion as “public expression of worship.” In such a case, the term “religion” might not be off point. The idea of religion is that the set of principles and practices to which one binds herself or himself are not interiorized but expressed publicly before a watching world, society or community.

        It is, furthermore, important to note that when we do grammatical exegesis of biblical passages, we must not limit that exegesis to a lexicon. Whenever we or any society use a term, we use them to communicate ideas. This is to say that we do not use terms in a rigid manner. We look at context clues and connotations rather than purely denotations. Moreover, the question is less likely to be “what word is used in the Greek?” The more appropriate question might be something like, “what idea or connotation is communicated in Jame’s usage of “θρησκεία” , given historical context and context of the passage in relation to what is before or what follows the term in this particular passage?” It seems that the answer to the latter question suggests that the term “θρησκεία” speaks of public expression of worship that constitute convictions and principles to which one has binded ones self. In other words, what James is communicating is the very message in my premise. That is– spiritual worship is not isolated from religious practices. True worship is the connection between personal piety and public action.

        I argue that Christianity is “good religion” because it calls for personal piety and public expression holistically. This religion is grounded in the birth, life, teachings, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the teaching of the scriptures.

        Blessings,
        Dr. A

      • Sally Jo Shelton says:

        Joe, thank you for your exegetical work and your insights based on that work. I see your point regarding the problems with the kind of religion that focuses on legalistic minutae and ignores the weightier matters and that persecutes others and that is “self-made.” Also, I can see your point that religion is perhaps best defined of in terms of worship. Two Scriptures come to mind in this regard. First, there’s the time Jesus told the woman at the well: “the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). And the second is St. Paul’s appeal to the church at Rome: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rom 12:1). Certainly if we think of religion as Jesus and Paul did, that is in terms of spiritual worship, then we can safely think of it as a good thing after all.

  9. Joe McDaniel says:

    ok

    I agree with you Doc, the KJV does try to spin religion as synonymous with worship. However, Pharsisee-like worship, most often attached to religious practice, is erred worship, being binded to the letter of the law, rather than the spirit. Sounds like that good “religion” right?

    Good religion, as worship-like as it may present itself, is really erred worship because it focuses on the letter of commmunal works rather than faith, personal conviction, and the Holy Spirit, as one’s personal teacher – that renewal stuff.

    I also agree with you that the term “religion” does carry an idea, rather than a literal denotation. However, the idea here is less than honorable, proven by my earlier citations.

    Jesus and Paul makes it clear that the “idea of worship” which the Pharisees exhibited outwardly as “religion” was very superficial (legalistic) and not rooted in the new testament context of worship, which Jesus and Paul wanted to correct in Judea.

    Finally, I agree with you once again that personal piety and public expression is a good definition of religion because the two phrases are horizontally-based. But, while true worship may also appear to be horizontal communal expressions or “religion”, True worship is actually vertical, and ONLY considered worship when the communal service is done as unto the Lord – vertical. This is where the trip-up often occurs for most.

    You seem to present a thin line between religion and worship, if no line at all. But, my dear brother, I submit that there is a contrasting barrier between the two that can never be reconciled. Religion serves man after the wisdom of the flesh and Worship serves God through man, after Spirit and Truth – very different.

    :)

    Talk to me Rev…..

  10. Antipas Harris Dr. A. says:

    Bro. Minister, thank you for the continued dialogue. My quick response is the following:

    1. I reject your premise that “religion serves man after the wisdom of the flesh and Worship serves God through man, after the Spirit and Truth.” These definitions sound like cliques without warrant from an academic perspective. First of all, religion is not by definition “ungodly.” And Worship is not by definition “godly.” Either of these catagories could be distorted. Just as there are “religions” that are unfounded upon the Christian Bible, so is there “worship” that is unfounded upon Biblical truths. For example, one might worship nature similar to some Native American practices. But does this mean that the concept of “worship” is not relevant to Christian practice? No! It means that Christian practice is speaking of worshiping God and not nature. In like manner, “religion” as I am speaking of it in my article, speaks of binding one’s self to a relationship with God that is wholistic. By wholistic, I mean that binding ones self to God includes commitment to the principles and values of Christ– all of which include public expression. This public expression is not “trimbling hands” and “dancing” in church but rather behavior and practices that extend from spiritual devotion.

    Therefore, brother minister, it is a false bifurcation to seek to separate spirituality from religion. Albeit, there are several spiritualities and seveal religions that might not be grounded in Biblical Christianity. There is one that is. And that Spirituality and that religion is the one to which Christians must strive to subscribe.

    Lastly, on the issue of “legalism.” Where does this term come from? And on what basis do we say “legalism” is antithetical to Christian principles? I wonder if the opposite of “legalism” is “lawlessness.” While I do not see “legalism” in scripture, I do see “lawlessness.” And everywhere “lawlessness” is mentioned, it is a bad thing. So, this leaves us wondering about this term “legalism.” You do quote Paul’s conversation about the “killing letter.” The question would be– What is Paul talking about? Paul is saying that because the law tells us what is and what is not sin and the consequences of sin, the law is good. But the law kills because we are unable to keep the law so we are condemned by the law to death– hence the law of sin and death. So, then the letter of the law kills.

    On the other hand, Jesus frees us from the killing letter to the life of the Spirit: a) the Spirit delivers us from murder and adultry because the Spirit is the power of God to help us overcome those practices; b) the Spirit of Christ continues to pour out God’s grace upon humankind such that while the law calls for death, we are given more and more chances, despite the weak human condition. d) The Spirit does not release humankind to “lawlessness” but works to redeem humankind to fullfilling the law of the Spirit, that includes public expressions of faith.

    There is more. I do not have time to state it all here. I pray for more time to continue this conversation

    • Joe McDaniel says:

      Bless ya Rev Dr.,

      I REALY like you. – A brother that can hold their ground. Having gone through the seminary there at Regent, you have my official endorsement. You’re alright Rev.

      Nothin like that “good ole religion” – huh ?

      Can’t wait for your next article. Hey, find Anthony Bass and let’s really make this interesting.

      peace n blessings

  11. Nice site,i have bookmarked it for later use, thanks.