Christianity and Religion, pt. 1
November 22, 2008, 7:19 pm
Filed under: gospel

Over the next few posts, I want to highlight an important distinction that needs to be made : that Christianity is different from religion.  I’ll kick it off with a quote from Tim Keller’s The Prodigal God :

It is hard for us to realize this today, but when Christianity first arose in the world it was not called a religion.  It was the non-religion.  Imagine the neighbors of early Christians asking them about their faith.  “Where’s your temple?” they’d ask.  The Christians would reply that they didn’t have a temple.  “But how could that be?  Where do your priests labor?”   The Christians would have replied that they didn’t have priests.  “But…but,” the neighbors would have sputtered, “where are the sacrifices made to please your gods?”  The Christians would have responded that they did not make sacrifices anymore.  Jesus himself was the temple to end all temples, the priest to end all priests, and the sacrifice to end all sacrifices…

To most people in our society, Christianity is religion and moralism.  The only alternative to it (besides some other world religion) is pluralistic secularism.  But from the beginning it was not so.  Christianity was recognized as a tertium quid, something else entirely. (pp. 13-14)

Keller is right in that in many people’s minds, Christianity and religion are one and the same, or there is not much difference.  If Christians do not clarify the distinctions, when they offer the good news of the Gospel to a non-believer, the non-believer may see it as an invitation into organized religion or religious behavior.  Thus, understanding the difference is crucial, and that understanding comes from the Gospel.

More to come…

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