The One About Religion

A few thoughts, enumerated:

1) A praise/worship song titled “Fields of Grace” by Big Daddy Weave contains the lyrics, “There’s a place where religion finally dies…there’s a place where I lose my selfish pride…dancing with my father God in fields of grace.” I used to like this. I don’t anymore. Mainly that first part.

2) There’s a passion these days, in contemporary evangelical Christendom, for abandoning religion and pursuing relationship. That’s a big catch-phrase: “It’s not religion, it’s a relationship.” I don’t think I agree. Not so much that the latter is false; I disagree that the former is true.

3) There’s an old song, sung generally by old people, that petitions no one in particular to “Give me that old time religion…it’s good enough for me.” I don’t really know what that means, but I wonder if there’s an idea represented by that song that the singers of the previous song are reacting against.

4) Namely, a certain very bad complacency always stands at the door of the Christian’s heart, offering them the opportunity to engage in thoughtless rituals for the sake of assuaging their formerly-burning spirit. Not that “old time religion” is equivalent with this complacency; a lot of Christians equate them, though.

5) The scriptures exhort their readers to embrace religion!

6) 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. (James 1:27)

7) One dictionary definition of “religion” is, “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.” Beliefs and practices.

8 ) The enthusiastic worshipper will protest, “Well, I mean I don’t want any part in dead religion.” By this, I think they mean they want to avoid the kinds of thoughtless rituals mentioned above.

9) Who wants any part in dead things anyways? The singers of “Old Time Religion” would surely disparage dead religion as well.

10) Aren’t the singers of “Fields of Grace” in danger of practicing a thoughtless ritual if they sing that chorus (or any chorus) enough?

11) I should write a song. It’d be called “Fields of Religion.” It would be about the endless possibilities of life with God when we practice our beliefs, shun empty rituals, embrace intentional rituals, care for orphans and widows, and remain unstained by the world. Churches would have to pay me royalties for displaying the lyrics on their huge projection screens.

12) It could be great.

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7 Responses to The One About Religion

  1. Joel says:

    The idea of religion vs. relationship is an absurd one. Christianity is both a religion and a relationship. It is propositional truth, but also moves beyond propositions. It is objective (religion), yet subjective (relationship).

    Rather than fight the negative connotation of the word ‘religion,’ Christians simply and unwittingly capitulate and say, “But we’re a relationship!” A man has a relationship with his wife, with his kids, with his dog, and with his barber; what makes a relationship with Christ any more special? Any answer to that question that makes an objective claim has admitted to following a religion.

  2. jessica johnson says:

    When I think of religion I think of my childhood. I went to a Catholic church, where I went to religion classes. To sum it up I didn’t find Christ until I removed my self from this worshipless church. I find that as a believer, Newly formed, I have a lot of trouble with the idea of being bined my church rules and judgements. My relationship has led me to a closer walk with Him. If it is fellowship that we need and therefore have to deal with the religion I think this is a blockage to full living as we should. Where does the lukewarm church come in (which I so believe we are in) He says we must be aware of the lukewarmness…starting with me! Thanks for this….you are reading my mind and heart on this issue.

  3. friendmouse says:

    I, like most everyone (and I’m doing it here and now), make many generalizations and often fall into using stereotypes. There’s not much way to avoid doing so, yet we must recognize that NO ONE is an average Joe (or Jolene). We ALL have our unique faults and weaknesses, and it’s very natural to view one’s own faults and weaknesses as not as “bad” as the faults and weaknesses possessed by others. With that said, it may well be fair to generalize about certain groups of folks (contemporary vs. traditional, for example), yet it’s not fair to assume than any one individual within that grouping possesses the charactistics that the group, in general, possesses. (I realize the preceding sentence is a bit difficult to follow, but it’s the best I could do right now!). For example, I like “Give Me That Old Time Religion” and could likely correctly be “classified” as a traditionalist. However, if one were then to presume that I, therefore, do not like the contemporary aspects of (for example) our collective worship experiences, then you would be wrong. I “prefer” one, yet enjoy and accept the other. The “wrongness” which comes from both sides, is making judgements about the other. Do we know their heart and their motives? No, we do not. We THINK we do, but we are wrong to think that. When we fail to keep “The Main Thing” the main thing, trouble ensues. I could go on for pages, but I shall save it for another day. Shine on!

    • Definitely it comes down to matters of the heart. And I didn’t intend to lump any group who likes any song into any particular category (not that you were saying I did). I’m mostly interested in combating an emotional drive to eradicate a word or idea – religion – and replace it with what some would view as being more “pure” or “true” (“relationship” or whatever). Religion and relationship, to refer back to Joel, are both important. Religion isn’t dead if it’s practiced intentionally, toward the One with whom you/I/we have a relationship.

  4. BenAndRobin says:

    I am currently writing a song entitled, “Field of Religion.” I’ll send you a recording upon its completion

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