Oh, I’m Not Religious…

Remember the Christian woman from Survivor: China a little while back?

She kept saying things on the show like: “I’m not a religious person, but I have a relationship with Jesus Christ…”

Which, to me, makes no difference.

It all sounds pretty smug…

“I’m not religious. I’m Christian.”

“I’m not religious. I’m Muslim.”

“I’m not religious. I just pray to a divine being and believe in the Holy Book and go to church and think you’re going to Hell. But I’m not religious…”

Does it matter what you call yourself? If you believe in the divinity of Jesus, then you’re effectively a Christian. Perhaps you want to run away from the Christian stereotypes, but the fundamental beliefs are the same.

So recently, when an atheist from Denver saw people wearing shirts reading, “Religion is a lie,” he got a bit excited. He even checked out the website printed on the shirts

Religion, by it’s very nature, is so ambiguous. What does it mean? Every major religion claims exclusivity (i.e. they are the only way). So which one will save you? Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Mormonism or Christianity? And if Christianity, which denomination? Baptist, Catholic, Christian Scientist, 7th Day Adventist, Lutheran, Protestant, Presbyterian, Evangelical, Methodist and the like? Which one ultimately answers the question of an afterlife and why? Do we need man or church to reach God?

There are really 4 basic things we want in this life: to be loved unconditionally, to have significance and meaning, to be forgiven for what we’ve done and to know that something better than this tragic world is waiting for us after we die. With all our backgrounds and religious upbringings, we’ve only found those specific things in the person of Jesus Christ and we want a relationship with him.

Oh, %#&$ you.

Just say it. You’re Christians. Stop with the “We’re not Christians. We’re not part of a religion. We just believe that Jesus Christ died for our sins.”

The site is sponsored by The Rock Church, by the way.

Their slogan? Experience God, Not Religion.

Their vision?

As a missionary church, we strive to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the young people of the Twin Cities…

That’s religion. Stop acting like you don’t know that.

Am I alone on this?


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://www.xanga.com/suzzzanna Suzanna

    I agree with you. This is a cheap way people use to sell their religion and to appeal to “cool,” non-religious people. But in the process, they are sacrificing their own identity. If they are so ashamed of being Christians, perhaps they should leave Christianity. Just sayin’…

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    They simply have a different definition of religion than you do. Most people who talk this way tend to mean something like “institutional religion” or “religious rituals” when they say “religion”. You on the other hand are using a broader definition of the word. It’s simply a communication gap that is easily resolved by five minutes of conversation.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Obviously, there’s a difference in definition. But it seems to me like people who use the “I’m not religious” phrase are redefining the word to suit their needs — implying they’re above (better than?) institutional religion.

    I’m saying you can be outside of a Christian church, but you’re still a Christian.

  • pranksterturtle

    Am I alone on this?

    Hell, no, you aren’t. As someone who lives in a community with a heavy dose of non-denominational Christians, the phrase “not religious, just believe in Jesus” makes the little vein in my temple pop out a bit.

    “A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, often centered upon specific supernatural and moral claims about reality, the cosmos, and human nature, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law.” (Wikipedia)

    Belief in Jesus (or any other supernatural being, for that matter) == religion. Saying otherwise is just a blatant attempt to try to make it appear more rational.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    You’re not alone, Hemant. I hear people say that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship with Jesus. I’m not sure what they think makes something a religion or why they’re running away from it.

  • http://www.floatingaxhead.com Scott

    I’d take the angle that someone who says this is neither religious or a Christian. If you really believe in something, are you ashamed to admit it?

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Being “not religious” but with a relationship with Christ is a code word meaning you aren’t a member of all the other denominations who are apart from God. It means that your particular denomination is the “true path” and all others are fooling themselves (or damned).

    I hear this all the time within the Southern Baptist congregation.

    Orwellian double-speak.

    On the other hand, I do think that the version of Christianity that Mike is a part of is much more healthy for society and the planet than the mainstream Christian denominations (that say they aren’t aren’t “religious”).

  • nowoo

    I like a couple of the comments on Reddit regarding “simply having a different definition of religion”:

    Nobodyatall:
    Well by my definition you are a walrus while I drive to work in an orange. Automatic orange peeling saves me time. You don’t even want to know my definition of sex. suffice it to say it includes a rugby team, Seven miles of thread and a race around the world

    mindbleach:

    Marcel Duchamp’s breakfast by Kate Beaton.

  • Derek

    Coming from the midwest, I’ve heard people say that a lot. Mostly college students who think they’re being hip. I think it sounds worse. At least if you’re “religious,” some of the craziness can be attributed to the belief structure to which you subscribe. When you believe you have a “personal relationship” with someone you can’t experience with any of your senses, there’s no one to blame but yourself.

    However, it’s very similar to those that do not believe in god, but don’t want call themselves “atheists.”

  • Polly

    Am I alone on this?

    FUCK NO!!!

    Unless they are a 1st century carpenters’ union, JC should have no other interest to them. The only explanation is that they are religious, like every other Jesus proselityzer.

    This is pure deception – worse, it’s self deception; if it’s not a cynical ploy. I don’t care that they might be “nicer” than institutional religion, they are a church. That’s an organization, using a building(s) set up for a religious purpose.
    Unless people come in to their church, mill around interacting with one another at random, believing any old thing they want about JC, and don’t attempt to reach others with a specific message, it’s a fricking religion.

    It’s simply a communication gap that is easily resolved by five minutes of conversation.

    No NO NO! Words mean something. And not just in the Oxford Dictionary sense either. These guys know damn well that a church with a “mission” fulfills the definition of a religion that 99.99999% of the population holds to. This is a con.

    My wife HATES church (she is sitting right here watching me do my godless thing) and doesn’t consider herself a member of ANY denomination or even a church, but she freely acknowledges that she is a Christian and she knows it’s a religion.

  • http://terahertz.wordpress.com THz

    I blogged this same kind of phenomenon a few days ago – I called them “Feel-Good Christians” due to the overt expressions of love and the shallow drug-like sermons that seem to spread.

  • Darryl

    “Yeh, man, I’m not religious, no way, man. I’m into Jesus, one cool dude. Rock on!”

    Right.

    As if you’ve never been to a church, or listened to a preacher, or read a bible verse, or had religion forced down your throat.

    Right.

    One day you were just minding your own business and for no reason at all just reached behind you and pulled Jesus out of your butt.

  • http://karthikshekhar.blogspot.com Karthik Shekhar

    Such posturing is common among theists who want to strike a simultaneous claim at irrationaly faith and be perceived at intellectual.

    The Hindus would say, “There is no Hinduism. I am not a Hindu. There is only a ‘Sanatana Dharma’ (the doctrine without a beginning) of which everyone belongs to. You, me, everyone. Hinduism is a name that was given by visitors” And such dubious and patronising words will usually be accompanied by a claim to heterodoxy and universal tolerance, all the while asserting the primacy of one’s religion.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    This is why people should say more than just “religion is bad”. What about religion is bad? IMO, it is not the religious institution that’s bad, but the religious beliefs themselves. People who say they aren’t religious, but have a relationship with Jesus might think they’re pushing themselves away from the evils of religion, but I think they’ve got it backwards.

    Whether we define this to be more or less “religious” is beside the point–they’re going in the wrong direction, and that’s that.

  • Wes

    This seems to be an extension of the old “I’m spiritual, not religious” cliche. Except in this case with the Orwellian addition of using anti-religious language to promote religion.

    Mike Clawson said,
    May 31, 2008 at 1:27 pm

    They simply have a different definition of religion than you do. Most people who talk this way tend to mean something like “institutional religion” or “religious rituals” when they say “religion”. You on the other hand are using a broader definition of the word. It’s simply a communication gap that is easily resolved by five minutes of conversation.

    This is not just a simple matter of using different dictionaries. They’re appropriating language used to critique their movement and twisting it into a promotion of their movement. It’s like the creationists who say they believe in “evolution”, but when you look into what they mean when they say “evolution” you discover they mean something very different from what biologists mean when they talk about evolution.

    By saying, “I’m not religious, I’m Christian” they simultaneously distort the meaning of “religion”, deflecting critique, and also demean the status of all other religions such as Islam and Buddhism.

    Read the Statement of Faith from the Rock Church:

    statement of faith
    The Scripture

    The sole basis of our beliefs is the Bible, the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments. It was uniquely, verbally, and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit and was written without error in the original manuscript. It is the supreme and final authority in faith and life in every age.

    God

    There is but one God, infinite in power, wisdom, justice, goodness and love, Creator of the universe, eternally existing in three persons—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—each of whom possesses all the attributes of Deity and the characteristics of personality.

    Man

    God created man in His own image, and man as he was originally created, was innocent before God. But man chose to sin by disobeying God, and therefore was alienated from his Creator and came under divine condemnation. Thus all human beings are born with a corrupted nature and without spiritual life, and are totally incapable of pleasing God in and of themselves.

    Jesus Christ

    God the Father, by His own choice and out of love for sinful men and women, sent Jesus Christ into the world to reconcile sinners to Himself. Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. He was God in the flesh, both true God and true man. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and voluntarily suffered and died as our substitute to pay the penalty for our sins, thus satisfying God’s justice and accomplishing salvation for all those who trust in Him alone. He rose from the dead in the same body, though glorified, in which He lived and died. He bodily ascended into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God the Father, where He, the only mediator between God and man, makes intercession for His own. He will return to earth personally, visibly, and bodily to judge all men and establish His kingdom.

    Salvation

    Men and women are freed from the penalty for their sins not as a result, in whole or in part, of their own works, goodness, or religious ceremony, but by the undeserved favor of God alone. God declares righteous all who put their faith in Christ alone for their salvation.

    The Holy Spirit

    The Holy Spirit has come into the world to reveal and glorify Christ, to convict men and women of their sins, and to impart new life to all who place their faith in Christ. He indwells believers from the moment of spiritual birth, seals them until the day of redemption, and empowers them to live a life pleasing to God.

    Assurance

    All who are born again of the Spirit can be fully assured of their eternal life from the very moment they put their faith in Christ. This assurance is not based on any kind of human merit, but upon the fact of God’s election, upon Christ’s complete payment for our sins, and upon the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, whom is the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.

    The Resurrection of the Dead

    At physical death, the believer enters immediately into eternal, conscious fellowship with the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his or her body to everlasting glory, and blessing. At physical death, the unbeliever enters into eternal, conscious separation from the Lord and awaits the resurrection of his or her body to everlasting suffering, judgment, and condemnation.

    Baptism and the Lord’s Supper

    Jesus Christ has instructed those who believe in Him to be baptized in water as a symbol of their new birth in Christ. Baptism is only for those who have personally believed in Christ. Our practice is to baptize by immersion. The Lord also instituted the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of His suffering, death, and resurrection. Neither baptism nor the Lord’s Supper has any merit in helping a person obtain eternal life.

    The Church

    All true believers make up the church worldwide and should assemble together in local churches for worship, prayer, fellowship, and teaching, in order to become conformed to the image of Christ and to become equipped to carry out the ‘Great Commission’ that Christ gave His followers in Matthew 28:19-20.

    http://rockthechurch.com/aboutus/beliefs.shtml

    These guys are a proselytizing religious group, and their claims to being “not religious, just really in love with Jesus” are a sham to lure in unsuspecting young people by assuming an unimposing outward appearance. But underneath it is just your same old fundamentalism.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    I’ve met a lot of religious liberals who say they are “spiritual but not religious.”

    I think they say this because traditional Christian religion has an often well-deserved reputation for being petty and close-minded. To many, the “religious” word isn’t a positive one. Here’s a Barna Group study about this perception of traditional Christianity:

    A New Generation Expresses its Skepticism and Frustration with Christianity

  • Cade

    They’re basically just trying to have their cake and eat it too. They get to say they’re not religious and get rid of the some bad connotations of the word, while they still do basically the same things as religion.

    Mike Clawson, I understand what you’re saying, but when you start calling a dog a cat, we have some problems with definitions. They have specific belifs that they need to have (pretty darn fundamentalist at that). They have church. They have missionaries to spread their beliefs. It’s hard to think of a way that this isn’t a religion.

    I can understand saying you’re not religious if, say you believe in God or a higher power, but it’s vague and personal. This is not like that. This is a Christian church with a Christian belief system. Hence it’s religion.

  • Happy Christian

    I’d like to add this to the mix. I tend to agree that there is something to what is meant by a person who says they are not religious. There is reason to believe that Christianity is NOT a religion in the usual sense. When you study the world’s religions you’ll find that they ultimately tell a person to do good works, live a good life, and thereby in some way earn the right to go to heaven or the “promise land” or whatever. Christianity as explained by Christ and the Apostles, on the other hand, tells a person NOT to do good works, live a good life, and thereby in some way try to earn the way to heaven. That is what sets Christianity apart from other religions or perhaps it is not a religion in the usual sense.

    Strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree??

    Best wishes to all,

    Happy

  • http://elliptica.blogspot.com Lynet

    Strongly disagree, Happy Christian — but thanks for explaining your viewpoint so clearly.

    The problem I have with what you’re saying is that your argument boils down to “This is not a religion because our one is different in this special way”. As several of us have noted above, from our point of view, that difference that you consider to be so important really means nothing to us compared to all the ways that you are the same!

    It just seems like a sneaky way to try to define your own views as being ‘special’ by picking on some difference that applies to your religion alone and ignoring all the (much more relevant) similarities.

  • mikespeir

    The ungodly may not love the grace which is in the children, but since they love the children in whom that grace is found, they are no longer able to speak against religion as they otherwise would have done.

    (From C.H. Spurgeon’s sermon, “Abijah, or Some Good Thing Towards the Lord”)

    Curious how a hundred years or so ago “Christian” and “religion” were commonly used almost synonymously. And it was done so by the spiritual forebears of those who nowadays most use the catchphrase, “Christianity isn’t a religion; it’s a relationship.”

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Happy Christian,

    I have in fact studied religion (minimally), and what you say rings false. First of all, not every religion tells people to do good works and live a good life, and many do not include any sort of “promised land”. Many emphasize other things. Second, your characterization of Christianity seems the opposite of the truth. Christianity actually emphasizes good works more than many other religions (though there is much internal variation), and places more emphasis on “heaven”. And yes, Christianity is a unique religion, but every religion is unique.

  • Wes

    Happy Christian,

    I very strongly disagree.

    You’re repeating the “Christianity is about justification by faith, whereas every other religion in the world is about justification by works” line. It’s a misrepresentation of other religions.

    Each religion has unique aspects. For instance, for many Buddhists their religion is about experience, inner peace and enlightenment. Many Jews see God’s Law as the focal point of their religion. Muslims might see their religion as primarily about submitting one’s will to God. In fact, the whole “faith/works” dichotomy belongs primarily to Christianity. Not all religions draw such a distinction between faith and work.

    Your religion is unique, for sure. But it’s still religion. The faith/works dichotomy does not change the fact that it’s a religion. Also, this claim:

    Christianity as explained by Christ and the Apostles, on the other hand, tells a person NOT to do good works, live a good life, and thereby in some way try to earn the way to heaven.

    …is contradicted by the New Testament. From James 2:20-24:

    You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

    And, yes, I realize that you could quote in reply verses from the writings of Paul which claim that it is by faith alone that one is justified. Of course, that’s just one of the many contradictions in the Bible.

  • Darryl

    I agree with Wes. Happy, how weak is your grasp upon the faith when an atheist has to teach it to you?

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com/ NYCatheist

    It’s possible to believe in a god and not be religious if all you have is a belief, but once you start doing things because of that belief, whether it’s praying, reading a certain book about your god regularly, or gathering with and talking to other people about your belief, then that’s a religion.

    So I suppose a case could be made that a deist or pantheist might not have a religion if they aren’t doing anything, but once you have some kind of habitual activities related to some kind of belief in supernatural forces, then you have a religion. (The supernatural element is what differentiates it from other habitual activities like baseball or knitting.)

    At first I thought these “non-religious Christians” were really just trying to separate themselves from organized religion, but since it’s sponsored by a church I don’t know what their angle is.

    Or how about instead of calling them “religious” we just call them “superstitious”. ;-)

  • David D.G.

    Am I alone on this?

    Hardly. The website Fundies Say The Darndest Things (FSTDT.com) has intermittent threads in its forum (as well as some spawned by specific fundie quotes on the main page) discussing what we call the Fundie Word Redefinition Project, of which this particular item is a prime example.

    And, yes, I and others find this sort of thing just as despicably dishonest as you do.

    ~David D.G.

  • Happy Christian

    May I respond to a couple of issues stated by Wes and Miller.
    From the time of the writing of the new testament until now orthodox Christianity has made it clear that justification — God’s act of declaring a sinner righteous — is by faith alone through God’s grace. Such righteousness is entirely from outside them and that righteousness not only comes from Christ but actually is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to Christians. Rom. 5: 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. James does not disagree with this when he stated, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” So what is the place of good works? We need every good work we can get. It is the difference between “I MUST do good works to earn earn God’s favor and be allowed in heaven” and “I WANT to do good works to please the One who gave me the gift of imputed righteousness.” How does a fellow human know that the transaction of imputation mentioned above has happened for me? It is by good works. James stated it in 2: 18 “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. So there is no contradiction.
    It is nice to be in this conversation.
    May you all have a good Sunday.

    I am yours truly,

    Happy

  • Happy Christian

    May I respond to a couple of issues stated by Wes and Miller.
    From the time of the writing of the new testament until now orthodox Christianity has made it clear that justification — God’s act of declaring a sinner righteous — is by faith alone through God’s grace. Such righteousness is entirely from outside them and that righteousness not only comes from Christ but actually is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to Christians. Rom. 5: 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. James does not disagree with this when he stated, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.” So what is the place of good works? We need every good work we can get. It is the difference between “I MUST do good works to earn earn God’s favor and be allowed in heaven” and “I WANT to do good works to please the One who gave me the gift of imputed righteousness.” How does a fellow human know that the transaction of imputation mentioned above has happened for me? It is by good works. James stated it in 2: 18 “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” So there is no contradiction.
    It is nice to be in this conversation.
    May you all have a good Sunday.

    I am yours truly,

    Happy

  • Pseudonym

    James 1:26-27, going from the NIV:

    If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    Obviously anyone who goes on Survivor isn’t keeping themselves form being polluted by the world. I’ll take her word on the fact that she doesn’t look after orphans and widows. So she’s probably right.

  • Karen

    And, yes, I and others find this sort of thing just as despicably dishonest as you do.

    It is: a) blatant, smug self-deception and b) another in a nefarious laundry list of dirty evangelistic tricks.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Happy Christian,
    I’m not particularly interested in a discussion of good works vs faith, especially a Bible-based one. Ok, so I’ll retract my statement that Christianity as a whole emphasizes good works. It really depends on what kind of Christianity it is.

    You’ll not get a lot of sympathy here for faith. From the atheist’s perspective, good works are much better than faith, hands down.

  • JohnB

    Christianity as explained by Christ and the Apostles, on the other hand, tells a person NOT to do good works, live a good life, and thereby in some way try to earn the way to heaven. That is what sets Christianity apart from other religions or perhaps it is not a religion in the usual sense.

    If Christianity was only concerned with, say, how to conduct your life, or how to be virtuous, or how to improve your mind, rather than a formula for getting into heaven, how many Christians would be walking around today? Very few, I’d bet.

    No, it seems to be mainly concerned with getting into heaven. It’s all about ME. What will happen to ME when I die. Very reward-oriented. Not much different from other reward-oriented religions which promise something in exchange for accepting certain articles of faith.

  • Darryl

    From the time of the writing of the new testament until now orthodox Christianity has made it clear that justification — God’s act of declaring a sinner righteous — is by faith alone through God’s grace.

    Well, Happy, at least you’ve got your talking points down pat. Now, how about doing some reading? I’d start with the Early Church Fathers and go on from there. The “faith alone” thing is medieval; a lot was written and thought prior to that that might give you a different view of what is “orthodox Christianity.” Are you willing to educate yourself? Do you withhold judgment pending investigation?

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Just speaking personally as a Christian, I like the word “religion”. Its Latin roots have two possible etymologies, both of which are fascinating. One possible derivation (according to Augustine) is “re+ligare” i.e. “to reconnect”. That’s a good description of what my own religion is about to me – it’s about mending broken relationships and reconnecting myself to God, self, others, and the world.

    The other derivation (according to Cicero) is “re+legare“, literally “to read again”, i.e. “to go over again” or “consider carefully”. This idea of a reflective, contemplative life is also resonant with my own understanding and practice of religion.

  • EKM

    Secular Planet said,

    You’re not alone, Hemant. I hear people say that Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship with Jesus. I’m not sure what they think makes something a religion or why they’re running away from it.

    Then ask them to define Jesus.

    To Happy Christian: In your first post, you said you agree with the “Christianity is not religion” idea, but in your second post, you used the word “God” about six times. That sounds like religion. You might not have the same conception of God as other religions, but you still think that God exists. So to us they are the same.

  • http://www.farkedlife.com Vern of FarkedLife

    It’s religion! Any time faith is involved…and there must be faith if someone is talking about Christ – who isn’t here in the flesh that I can see. You see him? Not here. Faith = religion because belief in anything without rational, logical proof is religion. Glad I found this blog – will grab your RSS feed in a minute… Vern from “It’s a FarkedLife.com

  • Wes

    James stated it in 2: 18 “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. So there is no contradiction.

    Tsk tsk. Quote-mining your own scripture. In context, it’s easy to see that James 2:18 (of which you only quoted a portion) is in line with James 2:24, which I quoted. Here’s even more context, including the verse you quote-mined:

    James 2:14-26
    14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

    19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

    25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

    The author of James very clearly espouses a theology in which Christians are justified by faith and works together, not by faith alone. He says it multiple times in the passage quoted above.

    By quoting only the response in James 2:18 without quoting that to which he is responding, you have misrepresented what the author of James said. He’s telling Christians that if they rely on faith alone for justification, they can be impugned by those who do good deeds. And he explicitly says that faith is not enough, that good deeds are necessary for justification.

    And as for this:

    Such righteousness is entirely from outside them and that righteousness not only comes from Christ but actually is the righteousness of Christ, imputed to Christians. Rom. 5: 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I have already replied to it above:

    And, yes, I realize that you could quote in reply verses from the writings of Paul which claim that it is by faith alone that one is justified. Of course, that’s just one of the many contradictions in the Bible.

    Paul claimed that Christians are justified by faith alone. The author of James claimed that faith is not enough and good works are necessary for justification. It’s a contradiction, and quoting Paul at me combined with dishonest quote-mines from James does not resolve it.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    So, if I’m to understand this correctly:

    Atheism is a religion.
    Christianity is not.

    Right? OK, good. Glad we had a chance to smooth that one out.

  • http://cranialhyperossification.com GDad

    Mike Clawson@12:09am,

    I checked out Mirriam-Webster’s online dictionary to see what their take on the origin of “religion” was. I’ll copy and paste directly.

    Etymology:
    Middle English religioun, from Anglo-French religiun, Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at RELY
    Date:
    13th century

    I can see the similarities to “reconnect,” but the connotation seems to be entirely different.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    If the IRS says it’s a tax-exempt religious organization, then it’s a religion.

    :^)

  • Darryl

    Wes, I think you have it right about what James was saying, but the argument of Paul is a bit more nuanced than you have suggested. Putting that aside for the moment, I think it is possible to develop a single theology of salvation that reconciles Paul and James for two reasons: First, Paul never says that we are justified by faith “alone.” The word ‘alone’ was added to the text in translation. So, James and Paul are in agreement that we are justified by faith, the only question is what kind of faith. This is where I think James is more to the point than Paul.

    Paul clearly shows in his writings that works (born our of love, that fulfill the whole Law) will be the final standard of God’s judgment. Paul’s intricate arguments were required by his chosen project: to develop a Gospel that could be preached to the Gentiles–those without the Law and the promise made to Israel. Paul was fighting a battle on two fronts. He was trying to convince the Gentiles that salvation had come to them without need of circumcision and conforming to the Law of Moses, and he was trying to convince the Jews of the same thing, with an additional aspect: the Law was always intended to be a spiritual thing, that which was written in stone, was meant to be written on the hearts of people. And the intent of the Law, and its fulfilling, had to do with acts of love rather than attention to petty details like dietary restrictions.

    Paul bit off quite a bite here. He was tackling a very practical problem: Jewish-Christians (the first ones) in Jerusalem were insisting that the Gentile converts keep the Law of Moses as the Jews had done. This rankled Paul because he thought that it was an unnecessary encumbrance upon the Gentiles and because it entailed a failure to truly understand the intent of the Gospel message. A new covenant had come about that superseded the old. One was free to keep the Law of old, but its keeping was not a requirement. In fact, mere observance of it was insufficient for salvation.

    The friction between James and Paul arises out of the difference between Jewish-Christian worship and understanding of the faith and that of the Gentile-Christians. This was the source of the uncomfortable contratemps between Paul and Peter in Antioch. Paul is often misunderstood because of the subtlety of his argument: Faith without the keeping of the Law is all that is required for salvation, but faith is only faith when one observes the law of love, which is the fulfilling of the whole Law. Paul has two conceptions of faith just as James does. And both authors were misunderstood by audiences then and since.

  • Pingback: We’re not religious… at Between the Trees

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com/ miller

    Mike C said,

    Just speaking personally as a Christian, I like the word “religion”. Its Latin roots have two possible etymologies, both of which are fascinating.

    Looking at etymologies to determine what we really mean is a bit like astrology or numerology. Fascinating, sure, and it makes for some good musings, but it has little real meaning. If you really wanted religion to be about reconnecting or reconsidering, you would go ahead and do these things without etymology’s validation. And I’m sure that’s what you already do. :)

  • Happy Christian

    I’m Happy we are talking about keeping things in context.
    In Psa. 14: 1 it states, “There is no God.”
    Some would say, “Hip, hip, hooray! Let’s celebrate! Finally the Bible agrees with us.” Well, of course the context is, “The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”
    Wes, related to the way I quoted James 2: 18 [part not all] does not change the point I was making. Quoting part of Psa. 14: 1 has a major impact. And keep in mind that the ultimate context of James 2 is the entire new testament.

    Actually, Darryl, we agree about 90%, especially when you say, “Faith without the keeping of the Law is all that is required for salvation,” but then you indicate that something else needs to be done by saying, “faith is only faith when one observes the law of love,”
    You seem to think one needs to take the action to “observe” something after you have said, “Faith without the keeping of the Law is all that is required for salvation,”
    I don’t see much friction between Paul and James. As you said, both have two conceptions of faith. One needs to receive the imputed righteousness by faith along. Paul would agree with James that, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”. Once that is settled, then one shows his faith BY his works. Paul and James would agree on that. Thus, Wes, there is no contradiction
    .
    My original point was that other religions present the opposite and perhaps Christianity is not a religion in the way a vast majority understand religion.
    By the way, please forgive the duplication of my above post. My bad.

    Best wihes to one and all for a good week ahead.
    Happy

  • http://thatatheistguysblog.blogspot.com/ NYCatheist

    As for faith vs. works, I don’t know, faith sounds like a lot of work to me!

  • EKM

    Happy Christian said,

    My original point was that other religions present the opposite and perhaps Christianity is not a religion in the way a vast majority understand religion.

    So Christianity is not a religion because it disagrees with other religions? Can’t other religions also make that claim?

    You are still talking about God in your life. That is still religion.

  • http://emergingpensees.com Mike Clawson

    Mike Clawson@12:09am,

    I checked out Mirriam-Webster’s online dictionary to see what their take on the origin of “religion” was. I’ll copy and paste directly.

    I was going off of the etymology given at wikipedia and at etymonline. According to Wikipedia:

    The ultimate origins of Latin religio are obscure. It is usually accepted to derive from ligare “bind, connect”; likely from a prefixed re-ligare, i.e. re (again) + ligare or “to reconnect.” This interpretation is favoured by modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and Joseph Campbell, but was made prominent by St. Augustine, following the interpretation of Lactantius. Another possibility is derivation from a reduplicated *le-ligare. A historical interpretation due to Cicero on the other hand connects lego “read”, i.e. re (again) + lego in the sense of “choose”, “go over again” or “consider carefully”.

  • http://www.unreasonablefaith.com Daniel Florien

    I agree, Hemant. It’s still religion. They still go to church every week. They still preach to people. They still believe in orthodoxy and theology and all the doctrines of Christianity.

    IMO, it’s a just form of bad Christian advertising — they change the package, but not the substance.

    It doesn’t matter if they’re baptist, missional, emergent, or whatever. They’re still Christians and Christianity is a religion.

  • EKM

    Daniel Florien said,

    IMO, it’s a just form of bad Christian advertising — they change the package, but not the substance.

    So it’s the Reformation-era argument about transubstantiation all over again.

  • Darryl

    Happy,

    You’re still misunderstanding Paul and James. Read the relevant passages with no assumptions about faith. Let them tell you what it means. James is very clear about this.

  • Siamang

    I’m not gay, I just love mansex!

  • http://heathendad.blogspot.com/ HappyNat

    It is religion however they slice/name it, but if it makes them feel better . . .

    and to know that something better than this tragic world is waiting for us after we die.

    This part of their mission makes me sad. To define this world as tragic is,for lack of a better word tragic. For the love of god, take a look around focus on the now and enjoy life.

  • http://www.chedstone.com Roy McKenzie

    I’m with you. It’s completely ridiculous. What a great marketing ploy for the mindless.

  • http://jessephilips.wordpress.com Jesse

    Seriously, this is ridiculous!

    How do you define “religious” ? – not denotation, connotation

    Religious = foolish, traditional, ignorant, weak minded, rote learning, habitual, cold, unloving, boring, not creative, not intelligent, obstinant, stuck in my ways, irrelevant.

    By that definition, I believe in Jesus and I’m definitely not religious. It seems that simply by believing in Jesus you would put all those pejoratives on me. Is that not so?

    Seriously, how intolerant and judgmental is that?

  • Happy Christian

    To give some of you a recap of this conversation-I originally said that I see Christianity as being different from religions of the world in that righteousness for the christian is imputed to the believer based on faith in Jesus Christ alone. At that point Darryl presented the idea that James in the New Testament taught that it takes faith + works, good deeds, and love to have favor with God. If that is true, James contradicts other writers like Paul. I have been trying to point out that in reality there is no contradiction even though on the surface there might appear to be. I would like to continue with that train of thought.

    Earlier the value of keeping things in context was pointed out. I certainly agree with that.
    Let’s consider the context-

    In Romans 3 Paul wrote, 21 “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, 30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” Also notice Rom. 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”

    Paul writes about how a man comes to be accepted by God. He is attempting to establish the universal need of faith and faith alone. Both Jews and Gentiles need the grace because they do not measure up to the standards of God’s holiness. And Paul argues that the way the gift is received rules out any kind of boasting on our part. And in that context he speaks of justification as God’s act of declaring us righteousness because of Christ, because of what He has done. And so justification is a judicial pronouncement about our standing before God. It is God declaring the person of faith to be accepted and to be right with Him.

    Now in James 2 he said, “14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
    James is writing in the context of dealing with hypocrisy in the church. There are some people who claim to believe, but their lives do not bear out what they are claiming with their lips. How do you sort that out? How do you tell the difference between real faith and false faith, living faith, and dead faith? That’s the issue that James is getting at. How do you know whether a person really believes? What demonstrates their Christianity? Faith with holiness, he says. James is concerned about – and he uses the term twice – a “dead faith”. James is concerned about dead faith masquerading as real faith which is not accompanied by works. In verse 17 and verse 26 he speaks of dead faith; that is, claimed faith that is empty. It is hollow. It is without living reality. As highlighted before, James’ argument from the life of Abraham actually, definitively, proves that he does not contradict Paul.

    Please note that James does not ask the question, “Can faith save you?” He doesn’t ask the question, “Can real faith save you?” Look at what he does asks in verse 14: “Can that faith save you?” What’s the “that” for? He’s just described the kind of faith he’s talking about in the previous sentence. What does he say? “Says he has faith”. Ah! James is asking the question, “Can ‘Says you have faith’ save you? Can claimed faith save you? Can a profession of faith that has no substance or reality save you? James isn’t asking the question, “Can real faith save?” He’s asking, “Can claimed faith, apart from the evidence of holiness, save you?” And he tips you off on this, both with the phrase “Says he has faith” and “Can that kind of faith”, in verse 14.
    Paul does not disagree. We see that in Gal. 5: 6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Darryl made reference to that.

    To summarize- Paul is talking about becoming a christian and James is dealing with being a christian. Its another case of “Two sides of the same coin.” They don’t contradict one another. They do complement one another.

    So back to my point- Christianity is different from religions of the world in that righteousness for the christian is imputed to the believer based on faith in Jesus Christ alone. In fact, Christianity is so different perhaps it exist outside the realm of religion.

    In my part of the world it is time to go to bed. Have a good nite.

    Happy

  • Darryl

    Happy, let me apologize up front for the length of this post. I think you’ve understood James but not Paul. When Paul is discussing works versus faith in Romans he has in mind the Law of Moses and the Jewish-Christians’ insistence upon keeping that Law (which includes circumcision) in order to be a Christian. He is not addressing the general relation between works or deeds and faith. You must read Paul elsewhere than the passages you have cited in Romans for a clearer presentation of that subject.

    Do a study of what Paul has to say about the last judgment, and I think you’ll find that his thinking reflects that of the O.T. and that he was consistent with that. Begin with Romans 2. Here you will find all of the elements of the Gospel that he developed that included both Jews and Greeks–a people with the Law, and one without. I will quote it here with italics added:

    1Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.

    2And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things.

    3But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?

    4Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

    5But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,

    6who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

    7to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life;

    8but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

    9There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek,

    10but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    11For there is no partiality with God.

    12For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law;

    13for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified.

    14For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves,

    15in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them,

    16on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

    Also consider these passages:

    Job 34:11 For He pays a man according to his work, And makes him find it according to his way.

    Psalm 62:12 And lovingkindness is Yours, O Lord, For You recompense a man according to his work.

    Proverbs 24:12 If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?

    Jeremiah 32:19 great in counsel and mighty in deed, whose eyes are open to all the ways of the sons of men, giving to everyone according to his ways and according to the fruit of his deeds;

    Ezekiel 33:20 “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not right.’ O house of Israel, I will judge each of you according to his ways.”

    Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

    Romans 2:6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS:

    2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

    If you can reconcile Paul’s meaning in Romans 2 with his meaning later in the book then I’ll think you’ll see the sophistication of his argument, and why he has been often misunderstood.

    I should add that I’m not arguing that the theology of Paul and James matched exactly–as an atheist I don’t need to adjust all statements so that they fit together to protect some idea of inerrancy of the Bible. But, I think it is possible to reconcile them since I think they both thought that all people are ultimately judged by their deeds, that works of love are a necessary component of real faith, and that the grace of God in Christ was the means by which salvation has come to all people.

  • Suzy

    Happy, two other things you need to think about:

    1. The bible is a book written by men. Many different men. If you believe the bible is the word of God, the only word of God, that in itself makes you religious.
    2. If you give a man (Jesus, Buddha or any other person) deity status, that alone also makes you religious. You are aware that you are worshipping a man. Even if he did do all those miracles and rose from the dead you still need to understand (son of God or not) he’s still a man.

    Stay in la la land but do understand that to us you really just look like another religous zealot.

  • http://eucharisto.wordpress.com Joel

    Of course Christianity is a religion. The Oxford American Dictionary’s description says that religion is, “The Belief in, and worship of, a superhuman, esp. a personal god or gods”. I think there’s nary a Christian who would deny such a statement as being applicable to their own faith.

    On the other hand, not all Christians are “religionists”, which is defined by the same dictionary as: “One marked by excessive religious zeal”. No doubt there are many “religionists” out there, and they usually are louder and more domineering than other members of their own religion, but the majority of Christians are simply religious by definition.

    Of course, Christianity is one of the only religions that holds “belief and worship” to be elements of a relationship with said personal God. Consequently, Christians are both religious, and at the same time pursuing a relationship.

    My problem with the perspective postulated in this post is that it fails to take into account the fact that there are hundreds of denominations, thousands of churches, and millions of self-ascribed Christians in the United States alone. Consequently, there are vastly differing perspectives on theology, and probably as much (if not more) heated debate within Christianity between differing viewpoints, as there is between Christians and non-Christians. So to use one constituency’s poorly thought-out proselytizing tactic as the ultimatum for all members of a vast religion seems rather hasty to me.

    Admittedly, I am a self-professed Christian, but in consideration of the cornucopia of interpretation of Christianity and the Bible, I hold many parts of theology as loosely as possible. I have seen my own faith morph considerably over the past few years, and I don’t doubt that I will continue to approach my faith with an open mind, and consequently see even more changes over time. I hold that Christianity is a dynamic religion that is not, and should not be defined by one perspective or interpretation.

    Apologies from me as well for the length of this post.

  • Happy Christian

    Darryl and others,
    I don’t recall saying that I’m not religious. I never made that claim.
    One or more of you mention having “religion” forced down your throat. This was perhaps done by your parents. They also “forced” you at least once or twice to eat all the food on your plate. That did not cause you to stop eating! To me the “forced” seems to be an unworthy excuse.
    It can also be noted that there are many different makes and models of cars and 1000′s of dealers that offer them to you all of which does not make you like or dislike your currently owned 4 wheels. I’m sure you have heard both of the above before and to me there seems to be a high level of correlation between them and some peoples approach to Christianity.

    It is true. God will judge us by our deeds. This is because mankind cannot see faith. Mankind can see deeds and works. Therefore God will judge a person by deeds so that God, in the sight of mankind, will be just. On the other hand John 3: 16- 18 clearly states,

    16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God “ These are the words of Jesus Christ!
    The idea is this- With God we are justified by faith in Christ alone.
    With mankind we are “justified” by good deeds and works.
    Consider this-
    Titus 3: 3 ”At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.”

    Note that Paul, in this one paragraph, says that we are not saved [justified] by righteous things we had done [good deeds] and also we should devote themselves [ourselves] to doing what is good. This settles the whole matter for me.

    Another way of looking at it- what you and I have been thinking about is different like the root and fruit of a tree. The root of our salvation is in faith alone in Jesus Christ. The fruit of our salvation is in our good works and deeds.

    Well, that is it- in the religions of the world to have eternal life one must impress God with good deeds. In Christianity one receives eternal life as a gift and the good deeds follow.

    Then there is the whole matter of what does “having faith” mean? But that can be the subject of another day and another post!

    I am yours truly,
    Happy

  • eriol11

    I’m a Christian, and I don’t like this slogan, and happy is wrong.

    When people say things like this they mean “I’m not Catholic/Orthodox/Mainline Protestant, I’m Evangelical/Fundamentalist.” They believe that since they don’t have priests, icons and fish Fridays, they are not part of any religion.

    So the people who wear t-shirts that say, “Religion is a lie” are referring Catholics et al, who they must save from the flames of Hell because they belong to a “religion.” But then they issue statements like the one above, saying that certain things must be done, and certain things must be believed.

  • http://www.myspace.com/bobbleheadruler cital

    yeah my mom is always saying how “its not a religion, its a relationship with ‘god’”. i dont care what it is. to me its all the same and something i dont believe in and want to have no part in. they all look upon atheists as the most evil people in the world, but look at how much damage religion caused in the world!

  • Happy Christian

    I certainly agree- religion has caused a lot of problems in this world.

  • jim

    you feel this huge love for god, correct?

    some people take that love further, and see others who also say they have this relationship as liars and then use that hate to commit terrible acts.

    your “relationship with god” has also caused a lot of problems in the world.

  • Seth

    I have some sympathy for people who don’t want to identify themselves with the horrible things religion has done, but can’t let go of their own religion. I can’t really blame them for trying to find some way to express their religious feelings without mainstream religion.

    However, people like a former friend who say things like “I’m not into religion. I’m into reality- and that just happens to include Jesus dying on the cross,” sound more like the sort of people this article is about.

  • http://noeasyanswers.com NoEasyAnswers

    I do disagree to an extent… I think specially with Eastern religions there can be a difference. I consider myself Jain but I’m not religious; I believe in the principles of ahimsa, anekantavada, etc, but I don’t believe in the spiritual part of Jainism. In a sense, I follow the philosophy of Jainism, which is as much a part of the religion as the spiritual is. I’m not less of a Jain because I don’t believe in the spiritual… I think I’m more Jain then some I know who believe in the spiritual. . I’m Jain, but I’m not religious.

  • http://www.agnostic-library.com/ma/ PsiCop

    I also dislike the contention of many that they are “spiritual but not religious.” Without exception, such people meet standard dictionary definitions of “religious” … even if they’d prefer it were not the case.

    I also agree that it’s even worse when a fundamentalist Christian says, “I’m not religious, but I have a ‘relationship’ with God/Jesus.” That too is disingenuous; having a “relationship” with a deity is, by definition, a “religious” act.

    It’s time for people to just stop misrepresenting themselves. I get that they’d like to disassociate themselves from all the negative connotations of the words “religion” and “religious,” but that desire does not entitle them to lie about themselves. Just once, I’d like a little honesty from people.

  • http://facebook.com Helives

    Its true, some Christians do say such things, and such things can be confusing for an atheist. However, when we say we are not “religious” we do not mean we do not have a relationship with God, on the contrary we are saying there is no middle man (such as a priest or of the like) and also when we say this we mean we do not go by old rituals, such as in the old testament. when Jesus died, his blood was used to forgive all of our sins and his willing sacrifice gave us all a chance to have a relationship with Him, not through a priest.
    (and yes, I am a Christian)

  • http://facebook.com Helives

    To the world, you look like a saint when you do good deeds, right? well, no one is perfect except God. In Christianity, we accept God as our savior, and strive to be like Him. Jesus did good deeds. Not because he would get the love of the world, but so others could see that he was God’s son. In this way of thinking, there were also many Christian Martyrs. Does every Christian have the Bravery to be sacrificed for God? no. But does that mean they do not have Faith? of course not. Not everyone is perfect. we all have tempers and make mistakes, but God still forgives.
    the point is, it doesn’t matter if you have been a saint in the world’s eyes, or have done all the good deeds you can do. The perfection and forgiveness comes from faith in God.

  • Roark

    You dont seem like that nice of an atheist

  • Lexi Lanai

    I’m probably not going to get a popular response for this since I’m not a friendly atheist, let alone an atheist.

    I think you’re missing the whole point about “relationship”. Christianity is a religion meaning it’s a belief like hinduism or islam or catholic, etc and if you are a Christian, you have a set way of thinking, acting, believing, etc. JUST LIKE ANY OTHER RELIGION. But when people say they aren’t “religious” they’re saying that their connection with God has nothing to do with ritualistic stuff, it’s purely a “relationship”

    which won’t make sense to athiests because if you don’t believe in God to begin with, to you, we don’t have a relationship with anyone! So, you can’t convince some who knows that God exists that they don’t have a relationship with “nothing”. So you see it as “religious”.

    But let me pose this question to you. You probably have a girlfriend who you are in “relationship” with, right? If you worship the ground she walks on, is willing to do ANYTHING for her because she’s so darn beautiful AND if who you are is wrapped up in who she is, than congrats! You’re in a religion! Yes, I said “Religion!” . :) But to you, it’s absurd for me to say that. She’s just your girlfriend after all. I mean, I go to ‘church’ God’s house! :) Well, you probably go to her house on occasion, right? I pray to God, not the ‘religious’ “Our Father…” no, it’s straight talk, just like you talk to your girlfriend on the phone…Granted, if she’s smart, you even go to her for counsel, direction and advice – I do the same thing too…with God of course!

    So, having a relationship is different than religion, if you see it that way. If you still don’t, than it’s only right to say that everyone in the world who is in a relationship, is “religious”. Which isn’t bad because relationships are AMAZING!!!

    Bottom line, God is real, that is my conviction and the conviction of many others. I’m not trying to convince YOU that God is real; I’m saying that we have a real relationship with our God…call it “religion” or “relationship” it’s still a “relationship!”.

    And yes, if you don’t have a girlfriend, may I suggest asking God for one? He’s the best matchmaker I know! ;)

  • Kent

    @Lexi: You talk to God just like I talk to my girlfriend on the phone?

  • Lexi Lanai

    LOL @ Kent: Depends what you talk to your girlfriend about! ;)

  • hmmm…

    @ Lexi
    So does this mean you have intercourse with god? Because that is generally an important part of a relationship. Unless of course you are in fact Christian, because they don’t believe in sex before marriage right? Oh wait, you’re not religious, you just have a relationship with god, so intercourse is ok…

  • anon

    I’m not religious but I have a relationship with Jesus is like saying, Oh I don’t believe in a deity but I’m not atheist.


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