Organized Religion - No Wonder The Church Is Losing
May 23, 2009
News Flash: Jesus came into the world to take on organized religion. In fact, His own personal culture war was against the leaders of Judaism in His day (Chief Priests, Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes and the rabbis). He butt heads with the religious leaders more than any one person or group of people. It is no stretch to say that Jesus was crucified for taking them on. It kind of reminds me of the typical pastor today.
Like Jesus, I generally despise organized religion. Organized religion is characterized by blind faith, irrational beliefs, power-grabs, greedy ministers, a lack of love and no personal respect. Religion is, as Marx said, the opiate of the masses. Tell a man to kill someone, and he’ll shrink back in horror — tell him that God says to kill someone, and if he believes, he’ll do it gladly. Control the masses through an emotional appeal to an invisible authority who lives in the sky. If they don’t use reason, then they are asking to be led to destruction. Sheep led willingly to their slaughter.
Organized Religion is the institutionalization of something that wasn’t meant to be institutionalized. It was supposed to be personalized. It was an issue between man and God, with no mediator. Man is to obey the laws of the God of nature — natural law — before following the thoughts of the institution of Religion.
Organized religion is typically a power-game. It’s seen by many as a means to gain political influence. Man’s belief in God, if based upon blind belief, is vulnerable. And disastrous. And frighteningly dangerous. Tell a man you are from God, and he will hail you as his savior.
When man ignores reason and just trusts what he believes to be God, he has robbed himself of the foundation that the God of nature has given him — his mind. It is the mind that man is given to be able to discern, to understand, to conclude, to analyze. Without using it, without rationality, man suddenly becomes a blind man stumbling down the road of life. His destination is a shot in the dark.
The American church looks a lot like this. The Bible is being used as the platform of a political movement that completely ignores the teachings of Christ. The institution of Christianity is based on the philosophy of Post Modernism — rationality is frowned upon. Emphasis is placed on the emotion of religion, rather than the philosophy of Christ.
The institution is based on power, upon control, upon tithes, money, influence, judging others, condemning the sinner rather than lifting up. The institution of religion is dog-eat-dog.
It’s the institution of religion that led to the Crusades, witch trials, inquisitions, torture, the restriction of science and other crimes against humanity. It’s the institution of religion that caused 9/11. It’s the institution of religion that nailed Christ to the cross.
Have you ever thought in-depth about why Christ died? He took on organized religion. He condemned them publicly for their sins, for their absurd restrictions, about their self-righteous attitude, about their lack of love.
Jesus went so far as to blast the religious leaders by saying in Luke 11 (from the Message Bible):
Yes, and I can be even more explicit. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.
In Matthew 23, He goes even further, saying things that the Church needs to hear again right now.
You’re hopeless, you religion scholars and Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but on the meat of God’s Law, things like fairness and compassion and commitment—the absolute basics!—you carelessly take it or leave it. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required. Do you have any idea how silly you look, writing a life story that’s wrong from start to finish, nitpicking over commas and semicolons?
Jesus came to set the captive free. His philosophy was contrary to what everyone else thought at the time. It was simple. Don’t judge others for their sin. Love them. And love God.
He was asked what the most important commandment was, and he answered in a manner that shocked the people. He summarized the entire doctrine, law, and the commandments with two simple pegs.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.
This is what Christianity is about — following the footsteps of Christ. Anything else is a fraud and nothing but a branch of religion not based on Christ himself. Christ was not religious. He taught a spiritual revolution, and for that they killed him.
I’d consider myself blessed to reach a similar conclusion, and to be of a similar world-view. Love God, Love others. This is the philosophy of Christ. Because of this, remember the words of Scottish pastor David Robertson, when he said, “You may aspire to be a religious non-believer. I am delighted to be a non-religious believer.”
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