Comments on Religion


Comments on religion
By Robert I Holmes

“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he
brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the
church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called
Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:25,26).

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Now Antioch, as you
can imagine, was not the first church. Nor was it the last. Several
existed before it including those in Rome and Jerusalem – and several in
Asia Minor. According to the Scripture none of those believers were
referred to as Christians.

According to Christian History Magazine, “For more than 150 years after
the Resurrection, those who followed Christ had no official church
buildings. During this time, evangelism was conducted mainly in homes, in
the context of worship and Christian education…” (Issue 57). In fact it
was nearly eighty years before they even wore the tag ‘Christian’! Prior
to that they were loosely known as “Followers of the Way” and “The
Disciples of Jesus”.

Don Robinson points out that, “Although you and I use the word as a
synonym for a believer, the word “Christian,” is not NECESSARILY a
designation for every saved person. No one was CALLED a CHRISTIAN before
the church in Antioch was formed… In the strictest sense of the word,
John the Baptist was not a Christian and neither was Christ! The disciples
of the Lord before the crucifixion were not Christians either.”

The diversity of Christianity

That institution calling herself ‘the church’ today, that group calling
themselves ‘Christians’ have among their number a vast array of
embarrassing cousins. I am not sure if they are heretics, sects, cults or
just break away churches. I was recently visiting a research facility for
Christianity and religion in the world, and found following churches…
“The Ice Cream Church”: (4,000 members in 27 countries and growing by 10
people a day); “The Partying Church of Jesus”: (9,000 members in 14
countries) and who could forget “The Church of United Pentecostal
Homosexuals and Lesbians.” Dear God!

There were others with names like the “African Union First Colored
Methodist Protestant Church”; the sickening “All American White
Supremacist Church” and almost comical “Apostolic Overcoming Holy Ghost
Church of God”. Could Christ even imagine the day the “Euro-Asiatic
Federation of the Union of the Evangelical Christian Baptists” was
formed?

To your average, uneducated pilgrim such names as the “Belarusian
Autocephalous Orthodox Church” leave you wondering what they are – and
yes, underneath that skin they have an orthodox Christian faith! The
select group of disciples calling themselves the “Christian Community and
Brotherhood of Reformed Doukhobors” follow Christ also. But one can
barely find enough breath to pronounce the “Church of the Living God:
House of God, Which Is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground
of the Truth” church (and that’s not a made up name either)!

Churchianity

There has been coined a somewhat tongue in cheek name for religion that
presents itself in the name of Christ – and that is ‘churchianity’. Folks
these may seem humorous, and somewhat quirky groups but it’s the face of
‘Churchianity’ and it stinketh. As Ronald G Fanter has pointed out, “In
the beginning, the church might be described as simply a new sect of
Judaism. They were, after all Jews. They observed the Jewish feasts. The
apostles taught from the Old Testament how the scriptures spoke of Christ
and confirmed that he had been the long awaited messiah of Judaism. There
was no organized corporation owning large amounts of real estate, and no
such establishment of a priesthood or an organized ecclesiastical system –
in short, no ‘church’.”

Folks I am really pointing these things out because they caught my
attention and made me really sit back and think “Who am I? And what do I
believe? Is it really the present face of Christianity being presented to
the world. And if that face is Christ’s ambassador – are we presenting
Christ or a form of religion?”

I am driving at the difference here between being one who has a
relationship with the Living God through His Son Christ Jesus – one who is
a disciple and one who is merely an adherent to a moral code of conduct.
Between one whose aim is to become like the Christ he loves, and one how
merely calls himself ‘Christian’. One who is a member of Christ’s Body –
the church his bride and one who goes to ‘church’ the institution of
religion.

Think about it

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