Last week, a video came out of how Jesus hates religion... I'm sure you saw it as it was all over you tube, and heavily discussed. If you didn't see it, here it is.
I couldn't help but be angry at it's ridiculous unbiblical standpoint that Jesus hated religion. Jesus stated very clearly he didn't come to abolish the law but fulfill it. Jesus Called Peter the Rock and how he was to build the church. Jesus did NOT come to abolish religion but to establish a new one - CHRISTIANITY.
Muslems follow Muhammad
Budists use buddha as their guide
Jews use the old testament Yahweh God and the Torah
Hinduism follows several Gods
Christians follow Jesus Christ
If you follow Jesus Christ, you're a Christian, and you follow a religion namely Christianity. His attacks were not on religion but denominations that are not "Non-denominational". These are fundamental bible only beliefs and I truly struggled to grasp their message until today.
I called up the church that sent my ridiculous flyer to me and asked for 30 copies so I could use them in a "Defending the faith" series I've started us as a result of these discussions. They didn't answer, so I left a message and decided to scroll through their website. I found some GREAT STUFF!!! I found a book called "Done" published by strivingtogether.com and written by Cary Schmidt. I looked up his website and couldn't find any real credentials. He is an an associate pastor of a Baptist church, and basically has a blog and has written some inspiring books with a twist. As I read through his book, a light bulb went off, and I got it! I really understood the theology of a baptist or non-denominational church. Go back and read that sentence... I understand the theology of a Baptist or non-denominational church. Why is that so interesting? Well, in the book and I quote... "So how do you sift through all the religious "fluff" and cut to the heart of the matter? how can you know truth from error - fact from fiction? How can you discern between God's true design and man's cheap substitute?" He goes on "So how can we take so many complicated systems of belief and simplify them down to two basic belief systems? First, lets look at the DO religions. These religions are in truth, systems of religions. Their central message is "what you must DO to gain the approval of God and to earn entrance into Heaven. The general agreement among these religions is that man is somehow separated, and man must DO something to be restored to Him. In these systems God is like an upset substitute teacher and he's really angry that people are misbehaving. He's somewhere up in Heaven, upset with the whole human race for doing things that displease him, and he's expecting everyone to make up for their wrongs by DOING good things. He's sitting on His throne, arms folded, expecting humanity to compensate or atone for their failures by doing good deeds or religions things for him." Later he states "In this DO category, every religion has a different list of "do's and dont's." for some, the list is extremely long and tedious - confess your sins, get baptized, give money, get confirmed, shave your head, sell flowers at an airport, sell literature door to door. The list is as endless as the imaginations of men, and with every passing decade new religions are popping up with new lists." He concludes this section with "Either way, the basic intent and the central message is the same - you must work your way to God. you must perform God's list, DO God's demands, appease God's anger and earn God's forgiveness. These systems are the ultimate form of religious bondage for millions of people all over the planet. The saddest thing about these systems is that they offer only despair and bondage. They leave the human heart feeling ultimately rejected by God and forever wondering if "I've done enough." They characterize God as more of a slave driver than a heavenly Father and they leave your heart feeling anything but "close to God". These systems fill the heart with nagging doubts. What if I missed something? What if I haven't lived up to God's demands? What if I'm doing the wrong list? What if my list is missing some critical element? Have I been good enough? How good is good enough? what if I haven't been good enough? These systems are great for building wealthy powerful religions because they enslave people..."
And now my commentary - 1st - I'm assuming that by the way he talks about organized religion (which by the way Baptists are an organized religion) he is mostly referring to Catholicism... and other religions that are contrary to his own - but again like the "religion vs. Jesus" video, lumps religion to be anything except for his own.
I would like to state 1 - that being a non-denominational - you have a religion. You are in the religion of no religion which is still a religion. It's like those people that are always trying to be different, but then they hang out with the same people that all are different together by wearing the same things and listening to the same music... 2. You trying not to have a religion lumps you with every other start-up church that has the same belief system of bible only and follows the teachings of however the pastor wants to use his scriptural passages.
On behalf of all Catholics who love their faith - I'd like to tell all ex-Catholics - if this is how you feel about Catholicism, I'd like to apologize for whoever made you feel that way, and let you know that that description of Catholicism misguided. I just went through and underlined the wording that is very pointed and untrue. As a person who know's my faith, and LOVES my faith - this is NOT AT ALL my church. With wording like that though, who couldn't help but look for those things in your own church? If I was 13 again and someone came to me and told me that about my church and threw some scripture in there - man, I would believe it. What I'd respond with is how Satan has used Christian men to break down the beliefs of another Christian for their own churches gain. They're telling lies about the Catholic Church. They're using words that destructive and that paint my religion in an untrue light. THIS is why I fight for my church! THIS is why I live for Christ - to give the FULLNESS of his message and not partial truths.
Catholic teaching 101 - you cannot earn your way to heaven. Yes, this is what the church teaches. There is nothing we can "DO" to earn our way to heaven. We can't do so many good things and BAM we're in. We can't do so many good works and automatically get a pass into heaven. I'm not trying to earn favor with God. I do focus on my RELATIONSHIP with him. I do focus on being present with Christ through prayer. My to do list is out of love for Christ. My to do list, is because he specifically asked us to serve one another.
YOUR stance however is "DONE" - and you use scriptures like
Titus 3:5 - "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us..."
Romans 3:20 - "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight"
Romans 4:5 - "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the unodly his faith is counted for righteousness."
Galations 2:16 - Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law"
Ephesians 2:8-9 (my favorite) "Not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works..."
Why is that my favorite? because the next sentence that is always left off is "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."
Well here is to you "anti works" person - there are just as many scriptures if not 1000 times more that Jesus tells us to do good works... Most the time in this time period, "works of the law" is not referring to service to others in need - it's talking about the Jewish Law. Titus was a non Jewish convert of Paul that wanted to become a Christian without becoming a Jew first. The apostles wanted him to follow every Jewish law including getting circumsized in order to be a Christian, but since he already believed in Christ, felt as if it was unfair to become a Jew first... They were in the stages of figuring out the Church and what Jesus would have wanted. His arguements and many of Paul's were on this stance - so the use of "works" and "Law" aren't being used correctly in your translation.
Try this in terms of Service and "works" that non-Catholics are so passionately against
1 Peter 4:9-11 Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Matthew 20:26-28 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
John 13:12-17 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. ...
Isaiah 58:10If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.
James 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.
Hebrews 6:10-12 For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
So my blog is getting long and I don't want to discourage my new readers - so I'll wrap it up. My points are this...
1. Other Churches protray the Catholic church as a church of Merit. We have to "earn our way to heaven" - and my response is we can't earn our way to heaven. It's a gift from God as you say. However, part of living as Jesus asked us to live is by doing good works.
2. Other Churches like to simply their teaching to get to the heart of Jesus's message - and what I say is You're taking 1 teaching, and leaving off 50 others. They've created a religion that revolves around the most important aspect of Jesus's mission but devalue absolutely everything else he did and said. They are preaching only partial truths whereas my Catholic faith preaches the fullness of the truth. They select scriptures that preach that works are not important, and leave off the parts that say it is important for the sake of making your religious beliefs true.
3. They claim the sacraments lead us into bondage - the rituals, rules and regulations are just distractions. For me - they lead me to the heart of Christ! The rituals are prayers! They set the mood just as if you use a candle for your prayer. The candle isn't God - it's the symbol of the presence of God and therefore leads us into a spiritual moment with God. It sets the mood - just as our beautiful churches and rituals.
4. They claim we're constantly trying to atone for our sins and try and get God to forgive us from our sin - but in their religion their sin has already been wiped away by his death on the cross. I say that As a Catholic, sin DOES separate us from God! Sin is choosing the world instead of God. Sin is choosing evil instead of good. If we're talking about relationships - I'm pretty sure this would destroy a relationship - however God's mercy is overflowing and he will accept us if we come back to him asking for forgiveness. I KNOW God loves me - unconditionally! I KNOW that he is my Savior! I KNOW that I am already accepted by him! and guess what - I'M CATHOLIC!