Christianity: Is it a religion?

Hi everyone,

In a post published today in the #offer category, new user @Here2Help asserted the following:

In the spirit of friendly debate–and I do mean friendly–I intend to refute this notion using history, logic, spiritual principles, and scriptural doctrine; but first I’d like to see Here2Help’s reasons for saying that Christianity is not a religion.
Harold, I hereby challenge you to defend your position! Do you accept?

I John 5:1 1 John 5:1
1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ, out from God has been born and as a result is His child. And everyone who loves the One who begot loves the one who has been begotten out from Him.

I have a relationship with my son not a religion with him. The same type of relationship I have with my own son is the same type of relationship I have with Poppa God.

Galatians 4:4
4 But when there came the fullness of the time, God sent off His Son, woman-born, made subject to law,
5 in order that He might deliver those under law to the end that we might be placed as adult sons.
6 And because you are sons, God sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts crying, Abba [namely], my Father.
7 So that no longer are you a slave but a son, and since you are a son, you are also an heir through God.

A slave just has to do what he is told, that how religion treats people in some cases. A son has a different relationship and does what the Father desires out of a relationship not just rules.

Snappy F where you at? LOL!!

No worries my good man, just tending to clerical stuff.

Alright, I like where this is going!
So, to your first point, about having a relationship with your son (and with God) and not a religion:
I think we can agree that the practice of religion often is a dry and distant echo of what a relationship could be, however this is religion not fully realized. Consider the origins of the term itself: ‘Religion’ comes from the Latin word religió, which itself comes from another Latin word ligere, which means “to tie/bind up”, also “to unify” as with a bond. The word itself denotes a close and strong connection–a “tying back” to deity. Is that always what practitioners of religion actually have? No. The spirit of the term is often absent from shallow and tepid religious practice; BUT, the term itself was and is used to describe the kind of experience that comes with the realization of the potential inherent in true religion.

To your second point, about slaves having to follow rules and sons obeying by virtue of a greater relationship:
I think we can also agree on this point. You say this:

I absolutely agree with you here as well, that it happens some of the time. Some religious followers (and I’m talking about more than just Christians here) do things out of a sense of duty and fear, with no sense of personal connection to their god(s) or their religious authorities, and some religious authorities treat people with an austere and loveless hand, sometimes striking fear and shame into the hearts of those they preside over, even when there’s no real reason to do so. This phenomenon does exist, and it is also starkly contrasted by the equally real existence of other religious sects or denominations, and those who stand as authorities in them, who teach and promote a gentler and more personal connection with deity, helping people to find a sense of love and closeness with their maker that engenders the kind of obedience born from love and admiration you were alluding to. If you have such a relationship with God, then my man, you have more fully realized the intent of the Christian religion than most.

In Luke chapter 10, Jesus is speaking with a lawyer who recounts that the law (of God) requires a person to love their neighbor as themselves. Jesus affirms that he is correct. Jesus then delivers the parable of the good samaritan to demonstrate how someone can love their neighbor as themselves. After the story ends, Jesus admonishes the hearer,

“Go, and do thou likewise.”

So far, Christ has taught that we should love our neighbor by doing for them the same kinds of things He Himself did for others as he traveled and served. Then, in Matthew 25:40 (KJV), Jesus affirms this:

“…Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”

Still further, in John 14:15, Jesus both educates and commands his disciples thus:

“If ye love me, keep my comandments.”

Then, we arrive at what we are taught in the epistle of James, chapter 1 verse 27:

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”

So, to love God and Christ is to keep the commandments, which means to serve both God Himself and our fellow man, and by loving people in this way we have a religion that James says is “pure” and “undefiled”. So, in its best sense, a real relationship with God must involve a true form of religion, and the two cannot be fully separated.

I’m glad to hear that you yourself have such a personal relationship with God.

@Here2Help It’s been a minute. What do you think of our exchange? I think you did a good job using scripture to back up your points.

Snappy my man. I enjoyed it you brought some interesting insights to mind and you really cemented my point of people needing to have a relationship with Poppa and not just religion. Religion in many cases binds but as Jesus said thru Paul “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is LIBERTY!!!”

All spirituality should be based in our relationship with the divine. Unfortunately when institutions develop around them and provide rigidity- I think that part qualifies as religion. But your personal spiritual journey is a relationship -yes! If you reference Christianity, that’s the religion.