This past week the pastor of the church I go to asked the question if Christianity is a religion. A valid question and one that is surprisingly highly debated. I cannot begin to count the amount of times I have heard it said, “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.” I am guilty of using this phrase as well.
I once believed the statement, but after the years I have experienced at college and since graduation. I truly believe that there is something more to Christianity than just its religion. There is experiences I have had that lead to this belief; ones that have meant an intimate connection with a personal God. However, Christianity is still a religion, no matter how much some might want to twist that around.
Definition of Religion:
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.
the practice of religious beliefs; ritual observance of faith.
I pose a question, how is this not what Christianity does? Does it contain beliefs concerning the universe? Does it involve devotional and ritual observances? What about a moral code? If nothing else, no one can deny that Christianity claims a moral code. By definition alone, Christianity is a religion. One that has created a bad taste in the mouths of those who have encountered it; which is such an unfortunate truth.
The problem is, people within the Christian sub-culture view religion as this mysterious, dark monster that is of the devil. In truth, religion is a neutral thing. A way to define an aspect of life. I have to admit at this point in my post I had to delete a couple of sentences that were full of undertones that implied bitterness and hinted of a rant.
The fact is Christianity has become institutionalized. I guess I should define that too.
An institution is a well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships that is accepted as a fundamental part of a culture. [insert Christianity]
When you think of a Christian, what do you associate with it? Having grown up in that culture my first response is this, church. Church is the place where people go once to twice a week to sing a few songs, listen to some guy (maybe a woman if it's one of those “liberal churches”) talk about the Bible, and then leave. Seriously, I think Christianity as an institution acts more like a cult than what's portrayed in the scriptures. But again, that's a different blog post.
To reiterate at this point, I believe Christianity is a religion.
However, I think there is something more to it than just the religious practices. This is where the experience, intuition, intellect, and discernment/interpretation of those things. That is to say, an individuals approach to religious interpretation.
In my case, the approach would be that of the relationship that is so often spoken of by people within Christianity. The fact of the matter is, much of our faith banks on this idea of a personal and intimate deity. While it might sound crazy, I have had experiences that have led to confirm this belief. The problem with experiences is that they are just that, experiences. I have a high appreciation for experiences and believe that they are incredibly valuable. However, they are also incredibly subjective, which is why they are usually under valued. Still, experiences, at the end of the day, is really all we have. They define our perceptions of reality and they are one of the few things that we can truly call our own.
I guess this is what I'll conclude with because this post is starting to feel broken. Maybe I'll post again on this in the future when my thoughts are a little more coherent.
Grace and Peace