13 August 2013

Is there a distinction between Christianity and religion?

In the first chapter of Romans, the wrath of God is revealed against distortions of God that culminate in various religious practices called idolatry. God is by no means always pleased with the operations and functions that we call religion. I would say that Christianity first and foremost is not a religion, even though we use that term to describe it from a sociological perspective.

The term religion describes human practices—practices of worship, of cultic involvement, of belief in a god, and of obeying certain rules that come from the god or gods. There are various kinds of religions in this world.

There is a religious aspect to Christianity. We do worship, and we are involved in certain human activities, such as prayer and Bible studies and devotions. Our religious practices are similar to the practices of other religions. But Christianity is much more than a religion; it's life.

The very fact that a person is religious does not necessarily mean that he is pleasing God; the primordial sin of man is idolatry, and idolatry is the worship of something that, in fact, is not God. The worship of idols involves the practice of religion. This is exactly what Romans 1:18-32 is speaking about; God is not pleased by any and all types of religious activity.

Our religious activity may at times be insulting to God. Christianity itself can degenerate into being merely a religion; that is, it can have the external formal activities and sociological practices without the substance that motivates all these things—a profound love and devotion to God himself and a profound trust in Christ's work.

~ RC Sproul, Now That's a Good Question!


PioneerPreppy said...

It is a question that will make you wonder. Also brings into light those "Christian" denominations that are allowing same sex couples and gays as ministers as well.

Rev. Paul said...

Preppy, I have no question that those who permit those things aren't practicing what the Bible defines as Christianity, at all. But you knew that already.

Stephen said...

Very few Christian denominations define true Christianity. Nice sermon Rev...

Rev. Paul said...

I must agree, sad though it is. Thanks, Stephen.

Rev. Paul said...

Btw, Stephen - I'm still trying to figure out if we met on Adak. Tried to e-mail you but it bounced back as undeliverable.

drjim said...

I've always felt the same.

While I may not be "religious" in an organized religion type of way, I do feel that I "know" God in my own way, and try to live a decent life by following the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.

I may not always succeed, but I try the best I can.

Matt said...

When I think along these lines I always think of Nadab and Abihu.

Leviticus 10:1-3

The story is that God had very detailed instructions for setting up an altar to offer animal sacrifice(s) to him, including how the fire for the sacrifice was obtained. These two jokers decided to do it a different way and paid the price.

There are other stories that go along similar lines, but I'm glad we are no longer under the old law. However, it's very important to follow divine instructions.

Stephen's comments ring very true to me.

Rev. Paul said...

I appreciate what you said, Jim. We're held responsible for what we know, and judged accordingly.

Matt, agreed! A big part of what's wrong with America - and the world, for that matter - is that Christian pastors have softened the Gospel to the point that it's no longer truth. Jesus never told us to hold back the truth.

ProudHillbilly said...

"But Christianity is much more than a religion; it's life." And that's what the people who think we should keep it to ourselves and out of the public sphere don't really understand. If you think that Christianity belongs in a soup kitchen but not in a voting booth then you have no real understanding of Christianity.

Rev. Paul said...

Well said, PH. Thank you!

Sandy said...

Rev. Paul,

I must agree with ProudHillbilly!!!

Rev. Paul said...

Indeed, Sandy - and thanks!

Steve Finnell said...


Who are those who are included in salvation? All men who believe and obey what the apostle Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost are saved. It does not make any difference what denominational name is written on the church building where you worship, if you obey the gospel preached by Peter, then, you are saved, you are a member of the Lord's church, you are part of the church of Christ, you a member of the body of Christ, you are a Christian.

What did Peter preach?
1. Peter preached that Jesus was a miracle worker. (Acts 2:22)
2. Peter preached that Jesus was resurrected from the dead by God the Father.(Acts 2:24-35)
3. Peter preached that Jesus was both Lord and Christ.(Acts 2:36)
When the three thousand believe Peter, they asked "What shall we do?"(Acts 2:37)
4. Peter told them to repent and be baptized in order to have their sins forgiven.(Acts 2:38)

This is the same message Jesus preached. (Mark 16:16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved....)

THE TERMS FOR PARDON ARE: Faith-John 3:16, Repentance-Acts 2:38, Confession-Romans 10:9-10, Baptism (immersion in water) 1 Peter 3:21

All who meet the terms for pardon are saved regardless of the denominational name on the church building.