Wednesday, March 26, 2008

THE END OF RELIGION


Since I read this quote it has sent many things running through my head. This post is just a few of those things that have come to mind over the past couple days. God in Christ came to make a way for his people out of dead end religions that never had the ability to set anyone free: "When sinful, broken, hurting people are pleasantly surprised at how accepting we are, and religious people are outraged at how accepting we are, there is a good chance we're starting to live like Jesus." -- Bruxy Cavey, in The End of Religion

Religion sets up a paradigm that demands a focus on morality and ethics. Our performance. I heard it once said like this; "When are you going to give up the mistaken notion that Christianity is about a system of ethics?" DO GOOD, GET GOOD, DO BAD, GET BAD. I think that is a quote from the book So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore.

And then this: "Sometimes in an effort to remind people of the cost of the cross, we withhold grace until we are sure they understand their sin. But it is in giving of our grace that we remind people that they need to go to Jesus to find their own. People understand their sin without our help. It's grace they need help in understanding."

Grace is what begins the process of transformation in ourselves and others. Law, moral codes and ethics leave people in a place of fear or superiority by keeping our focus on the flesh and the mind set on the flesh is not a good thing...it's death. It's a dead end loop of performance in an attempt to earn something that is already ours. It makes me think of this that Paul said to the Galatians.

Galatians 3
Faith Brings Righteousness

1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
4 Did you suffer so many things in vain--if indeed it was in vain?
5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?


Faith and union with Father, Son, and Spirit is about ceasing from our works...entering Father's rest and being set free indeed. Religion sometimes might use this language but the reality of it seems to remain something unattainable for most and keeps in place the competition. As long as others can be found that are worse off than we are we can feel better about ourselves.

7 comments:

Ron said...

Kent,

What a surprise to wake up this morning and to find that both you and Wayne had this book featured on your blogs! When I read in the book over the weekend the quote you cited, I knew that it was a meaty one that I needed to chew on for a while!

I started reading a book yesterday on catalyzing change through development work (economic, medical, agricultural, etc.), which is what I've been involved in over the past dozen years or so. But I'm disappointed that the author is camped out on ethics and morality, and that being the means for measuring change. Even though he writes as a Jesus-follower, it seems he remains stuck in a religious ethics-focused paradigm. I too have been rocked by John's statement to Jake that you quoted from the Jake book. I continue to chew that one over to this day!

Thanks for the stimulating thoughts!

Bones

Kent said...

Bones, it was seeing the quote in your signature on the god journey that got me to thinking about it. And I did read Wayne's mention of it today also. I might have to give the book a read.

Sue said...

I love the version that says "O, you dear idiots of Galatia" :) Did Wayne say that on the podcast the other day or was it somewhere else I heard it? Anyway ... isn't it amazing how you can read those lines and say, "Yes, how ridiculous. Why would anyone fall for that?" and then you find your own heart falling for it ... until Papa starts untangling and you start feeling what freedom is like.

Good post. This books sounds really good

Kent said...

Sue, the ease of moving back into the flesh is astounding. And what the apostle Paul was referring to was self-effort to free one's self or others for that matter. A mind set on self-effort is a mind set on the flesh just as much as the mind set on licentious
living is. Religion just doesn't get this and unfortunately the Christian religion has taken Jesus' message and turned it into another self-effort/performance/obligation/mind set on the flesh game.

Paul Young is the one you have most recently heard use the "O, you dear idiots of Galatia" he used that one in the video interview that was linked here a few posts back.

Rick Gibson said...

Hey Kent,
I've been missing chatting with you! This book has been on my 'to read' list, and I keep hearing good things about it. I guess I'll have to bump it up on the list. I'm almost done with 'Eyes to See', a collections of short stories by authors like Tolstoy, Chesterton, Dubus, Edno, Dostoevsky, etc. It's been hit and miss, but I wanted to get a feel for all these authors that I've heard so much about but never read.

Catch you later!

Kent said...

Tolstoy and Chesterton have been two authors I have ben interested in checking out.

Rick Gibson said...

The short story by Tolstoy has been my favorite by far, it's called 'what men live by'. Because it's a short story, I fear if I say anything about it, it will give the whole thing away, so I'll just say I recommend it hightly :-).

I read some Chesterton a while back and I remember enjoying it at the time. It will be interesting to go an re-read him since so much has changed in my life.