Sunday, July 30, 2006

Religion

Ok, so now I start to get serious, not that I wasn't before, but I feel I need get this started and who knows where it ends or if it will. I actually hope this to be an ongoing conversation to whoever wants to comment or check it out or even just to myself.
What is religion? The dictionary says a few things but this says to me what I'm aiming at(
http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/religion) a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices.
I believe it's this religion that has caused Christianity, in its purest form, to be shunned here in Australia as just another pointless avenue to find the meaning of life.
To put it lightly if I was to get a cheese grater and grate my knuckles (trust me I've had experience) 20 times, I don't think it would bring me as much pain as I feel when I see my Saviour and everyone's Saviour, Jesus, portrayed as an institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices.
In my thirty five years involved in the local church, seeing and being involved with most denominations, I have come to the point of realisation that much of what we do through the institution (speaking generally) is religion, not Christianity in it's purest form. The mere fact that we say every week that we 'go' to church points me to the fact that church is not the people but it is a place where the rules and rituals of our corrupt view of 'Christianity' is played out. By corrupt I mean this;
What if we have been served a vision of Christianity here in Australia, that is so religious, so institutionalised, that we don't actually know what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ without all the religious trimmings?
I'm interested in your view.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Glenn,
What an awesome (and frightening) thought - that we've lost sight of the Christ of Christianity. But I think I agree with the essence of what you're saying. I love it that you're blogging - it means that ANYONE can join in! And that means we have a lot of people who can share, not religion, but life.
Moira

Toby said...

I think you're pretty much spot on there, going by what I know of your experience, and that of others who have dared to stray outside of the 'church box' to see what's there. I was musing over the mission that occurs through my church (both the people and the place) and it struck me that almost all of the strong witnesses happen outside of the core leadership in the 'church'. Most are efforts of individuals or other groups, who happen to gather in our building for sunday worship time.

Maybe it is time to look at radically changing what 'organized church' looks like? Maybe it could function well as something that JUST serves as a common place for worship and community, empowering the groups and individuals to witness? Maybe we need to de-evolutionize the church and search for the core values- the biblical principles behind meeting together- instead of trying to control church so much that we end up strangling it?

Glenn Munyard said...

I totally agree Tob's, I think stripping back to the core of what Christianity is about is paramount if an institutional church is going to impact society. The problem we have is that so many people may be locked into a view of Christianity that is based on religious practice more than Christ (as Moira has put it). You take away their religious practice then to them you are taking away Christianity and their faith. For that they may fight to the death or at the least, in the democratic church, vote hard!

Anonymous said...

Wow.
I know its not your intention to freak us out...but where do you/we go from there???
How do we examine ourselves to make sure we are not entrenched so deeply in the institutional church, and from there challenge others to do the same. Do i need to leave the church to make sure that im about Christ and not Religion...i think i'm good...
Perhaps i need to think and pray more about it.
Hey, i reckon that's what you want hey Glenno. Good one!!!
:)Nickers

Leighthal said...

Hey Glenno. This is good. Thinking about what it means to be a follower of Christ in its purest form. Interesting that when I think about it in this light things become so much simpler...maybe there's something in that!

Gavin said...

Hi Glenn,

I know exactly what you mean. I look around at the churches and I get so frustrated. I hear people wondering why others aren't coming to Sunday services.
People aren't coming to church because they are looking for a meaningful encounter with God; not just a place where they are told that if they do this and think that they will be safe. Church is boring and irrelevant.

The trouble is - I still believe in the church. I believe that God is a God of community, and that in order to know and follow God we need to be a part of a living church community. It is so easy to identify the problems in the church, but how do we truly become the church - the body of Christ, temple of the Holy Spirit and family of God?
I wish I knew.

I also believe that 'religion' has its place. The role of structure is to enable us to have a foundation for encountering God. Sermons, songs, morning teas, small groups, liturgy, confession, communion - all traditions are really valuable when they point us back to God. Trouble is - so often they don't. So often they happen for their own sake.

There is something wrong with the church today (when hasn't there been) and I really think you have hit they nail on the head. Churches invite people to come and join and institutionalised religion. They should be inviting people to come and join the kingdom of God. How do we do this in Australian society? I wish I better knew.

Jefwey said...

Hey there.
I kinda dropped out of the whole Church thing recently... (at least for a while) and guess what?

I have discovered that God is still alive and well!