Advertisements

Can We Love Jesus And Hate Religion?

You may have seen this video doing the rounds in certain circles:

Is it a fair distinction? The broad sweep of someone who wants to affirm the grace of God and the idea of faith as a relationship with Christ, as opposed to the idea of emphasising an institution with a dubious track record is commendable. Coming out of certain contexts – say, The Troubles in Ireland, such a sentiment is powerful, for example in this song by the Belfast Christian singer Brian Houston:

And as someone who finds being a ‘professional Christian’ who is expected to uphold and serve the institution frustrating and tiresome at times, I certainly sympathise, too. Sometimes it feels as if I am being asked to be a flag-waver for Methodism or worse, an enforcer, rather than a witness to God’s redeeming love. I want a faith that emphasises grace, mercy, love and faith rather than dull rule-keeping. I too am embarrassed by the history of the Church. That’s not difficult.

But the poem, laudable as it is, needs probing. To me, it is framed as if I’m on the side of grace and ‘they’ are on the side of wrong. That’s always dangerous. It risks lapsing into self-righteousness, ironically, the very thing the author finds distasteful (and rightly so).

Rather than just using ‘religion’ as the label for all the bad stuff associated with belief in God, wouldn’t it be better to join in the confession of the Church’s sin? Remember Daniel, exiled in Babylon, praying, “We have sinned?” It wasn’t his personal sin that had carried Israel into exile, but he identified with God’s people. Humility like that is necessary. It is more likely to touch and transform the ‘religious’ than shouting at them at a distance.

And is it honest just to use ‘religion’ as the label in the way I’ve just suggested? It’s too convenient. Instead of saying that the Church should feed the poor and criticising her for not doing so, let’s do it ourselves! I’m delighted that one of my churches will be hosting a food bank, with personnel provided by another church that had the vision for it, from next month.

Let’s get our hands dirty. That’s one of the best witnesses to grace.

Advertisements

About Dave Faulkner

I'm a British Methodist minister, married with two children. I blog from a moderate evangelical-missional-charismatic perspective, with an interest in the 'missional' approach. My interests include Web 2.0, digital photography, contemporary music and watching football (Tottenham Hotspur) and cricket.

Posted on January 14, 2012, in Religion and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Thanks for this post Dave.

    I’ve never been into dull rule-keeping. That’s why I like places of grace like the Wayside Chapel & Exodus Foundation in Sydney.

    Like

  2. Hi Dave, I would say it is more “this vs. That” then “us vs. them”.

    Like

    • Dave, I think that’s where he starts and where he means to inhabit. The problem is more with how much he identifies with ‘this’ as opposed to ‘that’ and hence ‘us’ versus ‘them’ is implied. Or am I reading too much into this?

      Like

  3. When he states that he loves the Church, I would take it to mean the people, I.e all of us. When he speaks of religion,I take it to mean more the concept of grace through compliance with pre set rules and traditions. One of the very things Christ preached against.

    Like

  1. Pingback: Why I Hate Religion // Spoken Word // Borrowed Video | Be The Change

What Do You Think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: