INTRODUCTION. This post begins a series of articles about “religions.” After defining a “religion,” I will examine two categories of religion and how these groups of religions confront and interact with churches and individuals that follow the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that this thinking will lead to a sharper mind for evangelism and will enable believers to scatter the seed of the gospel more effectively.
STARTING WITH A DEFINITION
What is a religion, as I am defining it? I am going to take a few different runs at the definition.
- A religion is any system of thought or philosophy intentionally structured to deny the deity, the incarnation, the sinless life, the atoning death, and the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. This definition also includes Satan’s purpose for creating religions.
- A religion is any system of thought, philosophy, or worldview that would continue to exist if Jesus Christ as presented in the Bible had never existed. That is, a religion is any worldview that would continue to function if the Man Jesus had never been born of a virgin, had not lived a sinless life, had not died on the cross, had not been buried in a tomb and been raised from the dead.
- A religion would continue to function without interruption if Jesus of Nazareth was simply a myth, a fictional character made up by those who want to control us through the means of religion and religious heroes. In a religion, the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth is irrelevant.
- A religion is a worldview for which the existence of the Jesus of the Bible is unnecessary.
What I am trying to do with these functional definitions is to make clear that religions are not created in a vacuum and do not come into existence to no purpose. Rather, religions are Satanically conceived for the purpose of intentionally obscuring the gospel of Jesus Christ so that people remain trapped away from salvation in a godless, Christless, hopeless religious system. Religions are based on godless ideologies and are designed to convince the adherents that they can ignore or despise or even hate Jesus Christ with no consequence. My definitions for “religion,” then, center on the purpose of a religion (philosophy, worldview, ideology, system of thought and ritual) rather than on the form. The forms of religions vary widely, but the purpose of religions is the same. The purpose, of keeping people away from Jesus Christ and away from His salvation, is thus the defining characteristic of all religions.
TWO CATEGORIES OF RELIGIONS
Having given the definition of religion, I suggest that religions fall into two categories. The first category is those religions which exist completely apart from any biblical reference. In the past, these religions were referred to as pagan. They do not recognize or worship the God of the Bible, even falsely or as a pretense. Their worldview and practices are foreign to the teaching of the Scriptures and are therefore completely devoid of any element of the gospel of salvation. Those who identify with these religions will surely perish (Romans 2:12a); they “have no hope and are without God in this world” (Eph. 2:12).
These are what typically comes to mind when a person thinks about false religions in the world, religions like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism. This category would also include philosophies and worldviews like atheism and agnosticism, as well as those loosely described as spiritism. Again, the main feature of this category is that the religion makes no reference to the Bible, to the God of the Bible, or to Jesus Christ.
The second category of religions consists of those which have an obvious connection to Christianity but have none of the saving power of the gospel (refer to 2 Timothy 3:5). I will take a closer look at these systems in the next post on religions.
SDG rmb 3/3/2022 #495