The definition of religion is man-centered.
Everyone serves a god directly or indirectly. However, there is no absolute consensus among religions about what the definition of god is. The definition varies for each religion. For example, there was once a television commercial in which the games and players for the latest football weekend were being advertised. The main figure was a player who described the upcoming games and the excitement that fans would experience as they watched. He then described his own experience while watching the games as his religion. He was actively promoting the religion of football!
- However, does the true God occupy these religions or agree with these human activities?
- Does God adapt Himself to all of man’s different subjective views?
- Does God conform to various human views of established religions?
Here is what the Bible says about God and man in Romans 1:20-22 through the apostle Paul.
Romans 1:20 - 22 (NIV)
20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature-- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.
God is quoted in the Old Testament book of Isaiah 55:8-9 as saying that his thoughts and ways are very different than ours. The thoughts and concepts that we as humans consider so significant, important, and valid are carnal or worldly and they are not necessarily accurate when considered in light of the view and perspective of God.
Isaiah 55:8-9 (KJV)
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
The human mind can be easily deceived and convinced of its superiority and self-sufficiency, which is the core of Ideolatry. The human mind is an awesome thing indeed and capable of great feats of understanding and wisdom, but it is no match for the One that made it. Let’s examine the Dictionary.com definition of religion and explore it in detail.
A set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. 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.
This definition of religion acknowledges a god. However, it is neither established nor directed by a supernatural God. It is all man centered. Even though we humans think that we possess all wisdom and understanding, we still come face to face with the Old Testament revelation of Proverbs 21:2.
Proverbs 21:2 (NIV)
All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD weighs the heart.
Suffice it to say that the definitions of religion that do exist provide no indication that religion is an institution that has been established by the true God. So then, if man wants religion, how should it be described?
A proper definition should focus on the institution of religion as it is established by man. Man creates the doctrines, sets up the rules, propagates the traditions and enforces the observance of those rules and doctrines. There are many religions and many different perspectives that they portray. Consider the definition of religion found in Ideolatry:
Religion is man’s organized set of rules and doctrines designed to direct or control its adherents. It is his attempt to look outside of himself to discover a meaning for his existence that transcends his own physical nature. It is man seeking God and doing so through carnal, human thought and mindfully inspired means. Religion is man’s interpretation of his deity and the intents of that deity, however that deity is defined. (Dr. Rich Masek)
Christianity is considered by many to be a religion. However, it is not a religion. It is much different. It is not founded upon man’s desire to find God. It is not based on rules and doctrines. Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus, the Christ, based on His teachings as they are revealed in the Bible. Christianity is God reaching out to man to establish a relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ. It is not a man-made organization.
Learn more about this subject in Chapter 5 of Ideolatry, Acts of God.
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