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Archive for May 22nd, 2017

I heard a speaker this past week, a respected member of the town here, give a presentation. In her presentation she told an anecdote about her deceased husband. He was Methodist minister and then a professor at a local university.  He was sent to India to teach a course. His wife told us that one day in India a Hindu came to her husband stating that he wanted to become a Christian. The professor and minister encouraged the Hindu to stay in his own religion and, “…make it better”.   She quipped that my husband was not much of missionary with a laugh. This story was part of her rendition of her husband’s larger theme to stay in your own religion and “make it better”. 

A couple of thoughts on making religion better:

  1.  In Acts 17: 16-31 (Epistle Reading,Easter 6/Year A) when St. Paul preached to the  pagan philosophers in the Areopagus in Athens. If the 12 Apostles, and countless other Christians, gave the professor’s advice, “stay in your pagan philosophy and the worship of the ‘unknown god'”, I would not be writing about this nor preaching the forgiveness of sins by Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection, and so the love and light of the Lord be spread throughout the whole earth.  We can thank the Lord, there were no professors like this one in the agora that day in Athens. There are too many of them nowadays.  The prof’s wife’s presentation was for a  group of 25 or so.  And most chuckled along with her.  This is what is scary:  this can sound smart and witty and even good and so the devil can have a toehold. We would be worshiping the “unknown god”, not the God who sent His Son into this dark world; and as the Apostle said, we worship Whom we know.

  2. Becoming a Christian in Hindu India might cause all sorts of tension and division with family, culture and society (see Matthew 10:34-36).  It did so for the millions upon millions, the myriads upon myriads who were baptized in the first centuries of the Church.  The Church would have helped the new Christian in his new set of circumstances as he could help his brothers and sisters in Christ. The Lord told His disciples this would happen because we no longer worship false gods (see Matthew 10: 16-42;  and 1 Peter 1:17-19;  1 Peter 4:3-5).  We are different than the world we live in (see Matthew 5: 13)  and all man-made religion is a way of coping with the world by taking religion and “making it better”. 

  3. What does it look like when a man or a woman “makes religion better”?  In a nutshell:  it looks like, for instance, Mormonism, Islam,  and Christian Scientist.  Muhammad,  Joseph Smith and Mary Baker Eddy  (respectively, the founders of Islam, Mormonism and the Christian Scientist Church) all had ‘revelations’ to make a religion better, that is, what they did was mold religion to be the way they wanted it. The founders of those religions kept enough of the Christian doctrine to try to fool people.  It will always be legalistic, and against God’s Law, as they take God’s Law and rewrite it to make it shine with their version of holiness. “Oh, look, at those Muslims praying five times a day!”  “Oh,what  fine Mormon family!”  “Oh, they trust God so much to heal themselves!”   Prayer, family and healing are all God-given gifts but they do not save, but are the fruit of salvation.  Only by keeping God’s Law perfectly can one be saved and none has done so. So by making religion “better”, the Law is simply dumbed down: to make it easier, as the Law is rewritten and at the same time to substitute religious disciplines not given by the Lord to make it hard to do.  Only one Person ever kept God’s Law perfectly so to fulfill God’s Law for us that we believe in Him. My three examples of  man-made religions are some of the most known of the countless of the new and improved religions that have been invented since Eve and Adam wanted to be like God.  Many of them are televangelists. They did not make religion better, they made faith worse by denying it.  Legalism is faithless as it is devoid of the grace of God in Jesus and any religion that is faithless is also atheistic. 

  4. Finally, we can not forget the Scripture in which the Apostle warns of those who want ot make Christianity better by changing it to suit the doctrine to themselves and the times we live in and it will appear as “light”:                                                                                                                                                                                        12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11)

    We are called to remain steadfast in the apostolic doctrine as Paul wrote above.  We must continue to undermine the false claims of the “boasted mission” the false apostles preach and do so, so that even they might repent and come again as sinners for whom Christ shed His blood. 

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