Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Did Jesus Come to Start a New Religion

Did Jesus come to put an end to religion? Or to simply start a new one?

I'd love to hear your thoughts?

I guess to answer that we need to define religion, so I'll pick this one from dictionary.reference.com:

  • a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially 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.

I think a key point is "a set of beliefs". Who defines the set of beliefs that everyone else must agree to if they want in?

Think about how Jesus interacted with the religious folks of His day.

Do we think Jesus wanted to simply change the religion they had?

Do we think Jesus wanted to set up a new religion to replace it?

Any evidence Jesus wanted His followers to create and follow
  • a new set of beliefs
  • new ritual observances
  • new moral codes
As we look back at history, can we learn anything from the failures of religious devotion of the past?

Is there a difference between the Christian Religion and a relationship with Jesus?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


Lysa said...

Jesus came so we could have direct relationship with Him (Trinity), direct access to heaven.
When God told Abraham to leave everything, follow Him and receive the fulfillment of His promises to him, He made no mention of religion.
When Moses led the people out of Egypt, then was later give the Commandments, God made no mention of religion. He gave guidleines for worshipping Him so the people wouldn't (as easily) fall into idol worship.
Jesus came to show us what relationship with Him looks like.
Religion? I'll choose relationship every time, thankk you.
Keep on keeping on brother! Blessings!

Jonathan said...

Thanks Lysa. I recently read a book called "End of Religion" that got me thinking. I've often heard that Christianity was about relationship, but hadn't really thought it through.

So I wonder what others think. I wonder if most Christians view Christianity as a Religion, or a relationship. Or both.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate feedback.

μαρτυς said...

If religion is a set of beliefs, not rituals or practices, then Jesus came to reaffirm and reveal (uncover) the spiritual reality behind the set of beliefs given to mankind by God through the prophets and writers of the TaNaKh.

FWIW: The religious leaders of Jesus' day were not adhering to true Mosaic Judaism, but apostate Rabbinical Judaism; they were mixing Torah with Talmud (as the Jews of today are). Jesus came to disabuse "His sheep" of all the doctrinal fallacies the Rabbis had "fed" them.

Steve Martin said...

If 'religion' is what we DO to ascend to the Divine...then Jesus came to end it.

And to start a new life of faith (trust) in what the Living God has done for real sinners...that they might have new and everlasting life, in Him.


Jonathan said...

Yes Steve Martin, I think one of the dangers of Religion is that people think they must do religious stuff to earn favor with God. That certainly wasn't the way of Jesus.

Thanks for the comments.

Tiffany Jane said...

Any evidence Jesus wanted His followers to create and follow:
a new set of beliefs

In the New Testament, the word translated as 'repentance' is the Greek word μετάνοια (metanoia) which means: 'to think differently after'.

If this is true, then yes. Jesus was constantly harping on about changing the way we think. And when we change the way we think, the things we believe change. So a new set of beliefs? I think so. All of them set in concrete? Perhaps not. Part of the issue is trying to think of his movement as we think of things in a modern context. Neat, tidy and easily definable. Which anything of great meaning and consequence is unequivocally not. At the end of the day, he taught a WAY not a creed, but that doesn't mean having creeds to help us in that way is de facto harmful or wrong I think.

new ritual observances
We have Jesus himself, attending a ritual observance (Passover), making no negative comment against it, and while at it instituting another ritual observance (communion). This point enters into a much bigger conversation about rituals and their role in how we relate with God.

new moral codes
I think yes and no. On the one hand you could say he came to show us a higher moral code, 'you've heard it said, but I say..' on the other hand we can see it that he came to show us the moral code God intended all along. On the third hand he came to show us a bottom up rather than a top down structure. That is, that our behaviors would be different not because of moral codes or laws instituted above us to control us, but from a changed heart that would inspire us from the inside out to act in accordance with a higher way.

So the answer could be yes and no. All at once, while at the same time neither, because the rituals, creeds and laws are not the point but transformed lives and an upside down kingdom.

But I don't know.

Jonathan said...

Thanks Tiffany for the comments. I sort of agree with you.

Maybe to clarify what I'm questioning the the word "set of". Who defines the set of beliefs? Jesus didn't leave us with an organized system of beliefs. I think that is why people have been fighting over doctrines for all these years. He didn't write any catechisms or creeds. But obviously a level of belief is required.

I suspect He didn't want us to follow a set of rules and beliefs - that could get pretty dry over time. He asked us to follow Him - and he left us His Spirit and His body to help with that.

But maybe I see things to simplistic. :)

Thanks for the comments!

Jonathan said...

And Tiffany I like this summary:

"So the answer could be yes and no. All at once, while at the same time neither, because the rituals, creeds and laws are not the point but transformed lives and an upside down kingdom. "