I have chosen to make this a short post simply because it is a topic that many people devote a lot of time and space to. I’m not arguing this from any sort of theological qualification, so I’m not going to assume the right to say anything more than my personal opinion on the topic.
It is often said by people (who are normally very well meaning) that ‘Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship’, or something along those lines. I can see why some people would want to say that. They are trying to break down the misconceptions about Christianity, trying to show that it is all about knowing Jesus as opposed to knowing a set of rules. That is all very well, and that is something that needs to be taught…but I think that getting up in arms about calling Christianity a religion is pointless.
Let’s face it, for all intents and purposes, in the eyes of the people that we’re trying to talk to about it, Christianity is a religion. We Christians worship a God, believe in spiritual things, pray, go to church (most of us), have a sacred text, recognise sacred items etc. Those things, like it or not, make Christianity a religion in most senses of the word. Yes, I understand that there are many things that make Christianity different from other religions, and we definitely should be telling people about this!
James says in James 1:27 that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” If that’s God’s idea of proper religion, then Christians should all be trying to get more religious, not wasting time on semantics by trying to distance themselves from the word!
I suppose that I just find it silly that people expend so much effort talking about this (I appreciate that this gives the act of writing this post a certain amount of irony). We don’t always have to argue over the meanings of words, we just need to tell people the truth: that Jesus died for their sins. That’s what people need to know; that’s what we need to tell them.