Hating Religion

It seems fashionable nowadays to talk about hating religion but loving Jesus. One young man (Jefferson Bethke) has even made a career out of it, starting with a youtube video of a rap song he created titled ‘Why I Hate Religion but Love Jesus.’ It has over 27,546,644 views, so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

Others are writing books, like the

book by Alex Himaya. He’s a pastor of a church that has grown from 120 to over 5,500 people in eight years (by his own testimony), so he must know what he’s talking about, right?

Um. No. Neither are correct, at least from a biblical standpoint.

Why? Because they only offer two choices – religion or no religion for one thing. For another, they confuse (as many people do) Bible teachings. They are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. They both define religion as “following rules,” when they should distinguish between God’s rules (the Law) and man’s rules.

There is good religion and bad religion. Bad religion defined correctly is man reaching for God or trying to get to God on man’s own terms. I prefer to call this “man’s traditions.” Good religion is following God’s rules written on a heart of flesh by the Spirit in love. We can call this “God’s traditions.” Also known as The New Covenant.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31–34, ESV)

Man’s traditions can include some of the Bible, but frequently are way outside what God requires. God’s traditions, however, are always good. We can follow His rules or laws with confidence that they are living oracles, a light to our path, a guide to eternal life, and in every way huge blessings and a beneficial lifestyle.

It is true that God hates man’s efforts, in his own knowledge and pride, to connect with Him. From fig leaves in the Garden to works righteousness by following some laws (even His), He has always discouraged man’s efforts to buy a stairway to heaven. The opposite is to use the free stairway of His Word, the stair steps of His Laws, statues, commands, and charge, a ticket to which has been secured by the blood of His Son our Messiah. Even repentance is a command.

Just because people have a big church (which in my opinion isn’t biblical) or a lot of views on youtube, that doesn’t make them right. Popularity to me is suspicious, because generally people don’t like the truth. Truth is too uncomfortable. Ear tickling is more fun. When the popular kids are poking at you for following His laws, remember that they are only using part of the Bible. We need to fill them in on true religion. God’s religion. The New Covenant. The Law written on a heart of flesh by the Spirit. God’s traditions followed in love.


Atheism – The Seinfeld of Religions

Atheists deny that atheism is a religion, because they narrowly and falsely define religion (as they do so many other things). Their definition is limited to including ‘gods’ or supernatural beings, ceremonies and rituals. Dictionaries typically use similar definitions. One online dictionary I consulted defined religion as:
1. A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.
2. A specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agree upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.
3. The body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

But these definitions fail to take into account religious beliefs that feature no supernatural beings, such as Taoism or UFO’s. A better definition by Ninian Smart (a recognized authority on the secular study of religion) includes what he called seven “dimensions” to religion. These seven points or dimensions are that a religion has 1) narrative (such as stories of where the universe came from and humanity’s part in it); 2) experiential events (an experience such as dread, guilt, awe, mystery, devotion, liberation, ecstasy, inner peace, or bliss that leads to conversion and later reinforce conversion); 3) a social aspect (a hierarchy of people at the top who promote their beliefs to gain and teach new believers (laity), or a shared belief system and attitudes practiced by group); 4) ethics (morality or a code of behavior); 5) doctrine (teachings or philosophy in an intellectually coherent form); 6) rituals (such as holidays and celebrations); and 7) material parts (objects or places symbolizing the, or treated as, sacred or supernatural). All religions do not have all of these in equal measure or attach the same importance to them, but in general they share these characteristics.

In an article by Daniel Smartt at http://creation.com/atheism-a-religion he looks at this seven-point definition of religion and does a good job showing how atheism fits right in. The stories or narrative of atheism include Darwin’s trip on the HMS Beagle, the big bang (nothing exploded and became everything), and evolution (from simple to complex). Their experiences include such things as “freedom” from religion or “liberation” after converting, while “faith” is needed to embrace the belief (contrary to the science they say they worship) that life arose from non-life. Atheist social hierarchy has people at the top like Darwin or Stephen Hawking who are revered and preach the shared belief system aiming to gain converts. Atheist ethics are that there are no ethics except perhaps self-preservation or survival of the fittest; and that humans are basically good. But borrowing from other ethical systems is encouraged due to the moral bankruptcy of their doctrine.

That doctrine is of course that there is no God; evolution as fact contrary to sound science, and such things as the Humanist Manifesto. Their rituals include Darwin’s birthday and Earth Day (Lenin’s birthday). The material dimension of the atheist religion includes a worship of nature along with exploiting nature because “survival of the fittest” means that humans are the fittest.

Atheism is by definition self-contradictory. They espouse “open mindedness” yet start off with a repudiation of God. If they were truly “open minded” they would consider at least the possibility of a God. They say they have no gods yet obviously worship the twin gods of science and rationality, when they aren’t worshiping themselves as gods. There is no rational way possible they can declare there is no God unless they are gods by the conventional definition. They would have to be everywhere present, all-powerful, and all-knowing, because God could be residing somewhere they can’t get to, or know about, or have the power to travel to. They say Christians cannot prove God exists (although we can) yet cannot prove that God does not exist.

C. S. Lewis earlier in his life was an atheist. But he later said “atheism turns out to be too simple.”

Nothing good comes from atheism. What little good there is gets borrowed from other religions, mostly Christianity. Out of the first 108 universities founded in America, 106 of them were for training pastors. Whatever you want to say about the training of pastors, it was still thought that pastors had to be educated. The first free clinic in England was started by Christians (1746, John Wesley). Christians during the reformation and after were the vocal advocates of education, because they wanted to encourage people to read the Bible. The abolition of slavery in the UK and U.S. was pushed by, you guessed it, Christians.

Atheists claim to be compassionate, yet give very little of their precious money to charity, even non-religious charities. One study from Barna Research http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/12-faithspirituality/102-atheists-and-agnostics-take-aim-at-christians found that in 2006 the typical no-faith American donated just $200.00 while the average active-faith adult (defined as having gone to church, read the Bible and prayed during the week preceding the survey) gave $1,500.00. Even when church-based giving is subtracted, the active-faith adults gave double the dollars. Three times as many atheists as Christians gave nothing at all.

“We find the most terrible form of atheism, not in the militant and passionate struggle against the idea of God himself, but in the practical atheism of everyday living, in indifference and torpor. We often encounter these forms of atheism among those who are formally Christians.”
Nicolai A. Berdyaev
We_find_the_most_terrible_form_of_atheism. Dictionary.com. Columbia World of Quotations. Columbia University Press, 1996. http://quotes.dictionary.com/We_find_the_most_terrible_form_of_atheism (accessed: March 04, 2013).

Atheists love to speak of war and death in the name of Christianity, yet lie when confronted with the many-times-greater war and death caused by atheism. They do this by saying that the atheist versions were not “in the name of atheism.” Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Lenin, Pol Pot, Castro, etc. have caused more deaths than all the so-called religious wars combined, and more in “peacetime” than in war. These men were all atheists, either by direct statement or by action. Totalitarians have all been atheists. Hitler, it is claimed, was a Christian, but was not. He used Darwin’s theories to justify his death camps, and used the national church (church is not the same thing as Christian) as a rubber stamp to further his policies of war, eugenics and terror.

Atheists also ignore the millions of deaths by abortion perpetrated by atheist Margaret Sanger and others of similar thought. She was the founder of Planned Parenthood and a dedicated eugenicist (improving the quality of the human race by selective breeding and elimination of self-determined “undesirables”).

And when, by the way, has a book been published by an atheist that is so popular it has been in print for thousands of years selling billions of copies and translated into most known languages?

Stan, the 40 year atheist at atheism-analyzed.net points out in his First Principle of Atheism blog post (atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com) that “Atheism is a VOID, intellectually and morally. This seems hardly arguable given that many Atheists declare the relief of total freedom that Atheism has given them – freedom from onerous absolutes, rules and authority (1). This VOID or hole is created solely by rejection, commonly of the nature of rebellion, and commonly is adopted in juvenile years of poor intellectual and cortex development coupled with raging hormones and personal emotional turmoil. After the VOID is adopted, Atheists find themselves totally free to create their own truths to backfill the hole. In essence, the Atheist is enabled to fill the hole totally with himself, and his own personal desires. So Atheism is completely self-focused and narcissistic. This is not to say that all narcissists are Atheist, nor that all Atheists meet the clinical definitions of narcissism. But the first principle of Atheism opens the pathway to narcissism and many take that path.”

Seinfeld was a sitcom very popular in the ‘90’s. To quote its creators and critics, it is “a show all about nothing.” Adherents to atheism claim that nothing exploded and produced everything, that nothing evolved and produced humanity, that there exists nothing but what we see hear touch taste and feel, that there is no God, and nothing awaits us after we die. There is no basis for morality, no guiding principles except that of “dog eat dog,” and no hope for the future. Truly atheism is also a show about nothing. It is the Seinfeld of religions.

Christians on the contrary possess quite a bit of substance. We have a God who is the source of all things of love, good, right, light, justice and life. We have comfort that there is a purpose to our being here, and a hope that all will not continue in pain, suffering and misery indefinitely. Our hope is that the perfectly loving, just and righteous Father will cleanse creation and put it back to right with His Son. We will be a part of His kingdom and family forever.

Atheists want us to trade all of what we have for…wait for it…nothing. They’ve got literally nothing to offer. Believers have everything, and lose nothing if we are wrong. Atheists have nothing, yet have everything to lose if they are wrong (an application of Pascal’s wager). The hook for atheism is that a person can be his own god with no accountability for decisions good or bad. This pitch has been made before. In the Garden of Eden. By a liar and the father of lies. So atheism is just another dressed up version of “you will be like God.” Atheism has got to be about the dumbest religion ever created by man. At least most of the other religions admit what they are doing. So the Seinfeld of religions wants us poor, idiot Christians to trade all we have for all they don’t?

Feeling for Truth

From ‘Whole Bible Christianity’ chapter 1 section on Feel for Truth

Dogma in Greek means “that which one thinks is true” and comes from the root word dokeo meaning “to seem good” or “to think.” But at some point we stop thinking and switch to what “seems good” but is not sustained by the Word.

One way that people enable a part-Bible church is that we substitute feelings for truth. According to the survey ‘Americans Are Most Likely to Base Truth on Feelings’ from Barna Research (February 2002; The Barna Group of Ventura CA; barna.org) many prefer to do whatever “feels right or comfortable,” or would “produce the most beneficial results.” Sadly, what is captivating many Christians these days is a form of godliness lacking in power and appealing to “various impulses.”

1But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7 NASB95)