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Author Topic: Did Jesus come to abolish religion?  (Read 3072 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: January 19, 2012, 11:45:49 AM »

This has become a hot topic lately with the discussion of certain videos online.  There are a lot of people who seem to think that Jesus came to abolish religion because religion is just a bunch of "man made" rules.  Isnt this inaccurate?  Didnt God tell his people how he wanted to be worshipped?  (really, im asking) And lastly, wouldnt it be better to say that Jesus came to "complete" or "fulfill" religion rather than abolish it?

I know these issues have sort of been touched on in another post, but I just wanted a clearer understanding thats not in the context of what some guy says in a video so I can have a clearer understanding.  Please cite scriptures if possible.  Thanks!
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« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2012, 12:42:06 PM »

Did Jesus come to abolish religion? No. It's quite simple, really. Look to Christ's words in Matthew 5:

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Sounds like Jesus held religion and religious people in very high regard. Makes sense, when you think about it. He created them. Smiley

I wonder how our "hate religion, love Jesus" crowd would react to His apparent praise for the Pharisees here. Those people were so religious, after all.
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« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2012, 12:52:55 PM »

Did Jesus come to abolish religion? No. It's quite simple, really. Look to Christ's words in Matthew 5:

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Sounds like Jesus held religion and religious people in very high regard. Makes sense, when you think about it. He created them. Smiley

I wonder how our "hate religion, love Jesus" crowd would react to His apparent praise for the Pharisees here. Those people were so religious, after all.
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« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2012, 01:27:28 PM »

This has become a hot topic lately with the discussion of certain videos online.  There are a lot of people who seem to think that Jesus came to abolish religion because religion is just a bunch of "man made" rules.  Isnt this inaccurate?  Didnt God tell his people how he wanted to be worshipped?  (really, im asking) And lastly, wouldnt it be better to say that Jesus came to "complete" or "fulfill" religion rather than abolish it?

I know these issues have sort of been touched on in another post, but I just wanted a clearer understanding thats not in the context of what some guy says in a video so I can have a clearer understanding.  Please cite scriptures if possible.  Thanks!
I really don't think Scripture is going to help you with this one. You're dealing with people who simply don't want to believe Scripture in the first place. What you need, though, is a dictionary. Who made up the definition that religion is "just a bunch of 'man made' rules"? Show me the dictionary that gives that definition  Wink. If this is an issue raised by friends (or acquaintances of some sort) then you need to get them to define exactly what they mean. Then you can address their real concerns.
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2012, 01:38:33 PM »

Define religion.

If the definition of religion is 'man-made rules' then yes, as a matter of fact he did. However, that is not actually how most people (either in the 1st century or today) actually define religion. If religion is the communal relationship between man and the Divine then (as per dzheremi's post) then absolutely not. He came not to destroy but to perfect.

Basically, this tack you are asking about is an attempt to control the argument by controlling the definitions.
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2012, 01:43:46 PM »

Thanks for the replies everyone.  I think I was trying to combine two questions that did not really go together and put them in the same post.  I started a separate thread just now.  Although, for some reason, im not really sure what im trying to ask.  I feel like im looking for answers, but dont have any real questions that make sense...

Mods, feel free to delete this thread.
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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2012, 02:06:41 PM »

"On this rock, I will build my church."

Sounds pretty clear to me.

Also, He preached in synagogues. For years. Not something one would do if one didn't like religion or believe in structured worship.

This 'no religion' stuff is just the product of bad televangelism.
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« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2012, 02:30:49 PM »

There are a lot of people who seem to think that Jesus came to abolish religion because religion is just a bunch of "man made" rules.

James 1:26,27 – “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

To say “Jesus came to abolish religion”, or to say that Orthodoxy and Christianity is not a religion, one does have to define what religion is.  The New Testament speaks of the “religion of the Jews”, and criticizes “self-imposed religion” (Col 2:23), but does not define and reject “religion” as something specific, or specifically wrong in itself.  St. James speaks of “useless” religion and contrasts this with “pure and undefiled religion before God”, and the Fathers similarly speak of Orthodoxy as the “true religion” in contrast to the false religions.   The comment that “Jesus came to abolish religion” seems to be a recent Protestant gimmick that is used along with other gimmicks or catch-phrases such as “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.”  Such clichés used among Protestants are often not entirely wrong, but they are not accurate either from an Orthodox understanding.  Protestants who use such clichés often claim that “religion is about rules” and Christ came to "abolish rules", but this falsely equates the “Law” referred to negatively in the New Testament with “rules” in general.  To claim that Christ intended to “abolish rules”, however, is a rejection of Christ for Christ commanded many things in the Gospels that he intends to be obeyed by those who desire salvation.  Rather than contrasting Christianity and Orthodoxy with “religion”, I think it best to speak of the true, pure, and undefiled religion established by God in contrast to the false religions devised by man.  

Regarding Christianity understood as a “religion” by the Fathers, here are a few examples:

St. Justin Martyr said:

And if any slothfulness or old hereditary superstition prevents you from reading the prophecies of the holy men through which you can be instructed regarding the one only God, which is the first article of the true religion, yet believe him who, though at first he taught you polytheism, yet afterwards preferred to sing a useful and necessary recantation—I mean Orpheus, who said what I quoted a little before; and believe the others who wrote the same things concerning one God.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.viii.vi.xxxvi.html


Canon 19 of the Council of Trullo states:

IT behoves those who preside over the churches, every day but especially on Lord’s days, to teach all the clergy and people words of piety and of right religion, gathering out of holy Scripture meditations and determinations of the truth, and not going beyond the limits now fixed, nor varying from the tradition of the God-bearing fathers.  And if any controversy in regard to Scripture shall have been raised, let them not interpret it otherwise than as the lights and doctors of the church in their writings have expounded it, and in those let them glory rather than in composing things out of their own heads, lest through their lack of skill they may have departed from what was fitting.  For through the doctrine of the aforesaid fathers, the people coming to the knowledge of what is good and desirable, as well as what is useless and to be rejected, will remodel their life for the better, and not be led by ignorance, but applying their minds to the doctrine, they will take heed that no evil befall them and work out their salvation in fear of impending punishment.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xiv.iii.xx.html


St. Basil the Great said:

Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Churchsome we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us “in a mystery” by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf208.vii.xxviii.html


St. John Chrysostom said:

As to ourselves then, let us fortify our souls; for if the loss of wealth should threaten us, or even death, and yet no one can rob us of our religion, we are the happiest of men…

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf109.xix.vi.html

and in Homily 65 on the Gospel of St. John:

“When I am arisen,” He saith, “ye shall know that I am not separated from the Father, but have the same power with Him, and that I am with you continually, when facts proclaim the aid which cometh to you from Me, when your enemies are kept down, and you speak boldly, when dangers are removed from your path, when the preaching of the Gospel flourisheth day by day, when all yield and give ground to the word of true religion.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf114.iv.lxxvii.html


Canon 8 of the Seventh Ecumenical Council states:

SINCE certain, erring in the superstitions of the Hebrews, have thought to mock at Christ our God, and feigning to be converted to the religion of Christ do deny him, and in private and secretly keep the Sabbath and observe other Jewish customs, we decree that such persons be not received to communion, nor to prayers, nor into the Church; but let them be openly Hebrews according to their religion, and let them not bring their children to baptism, nor purchase or possess a slave.  But if any of them, out of a sincere heart and in faith, is converted and makes profession with his whole heart, setting at naught their customs and observances, and so that others may be convinced and converted, such an one is to be received and baptized, and his children likewise; and let them be taught to take care to hold aloof from the ordinances of the Hebrews.  But if they will not do this, let them in no wise be received.


If you search the Fathers, you will see many other references to Christianity as a “religion”.
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« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2012, 03:13:30 PM »

I would like to note something.

In our culture today, religion is always something bad, that usually is just something that disagrees with the relig"faith" of the one tossing the accusation.

Its always everyone else that has religion, and the speaker has "faith".

If the religion, as in the true definition of the word, did not matter to Christ, there would be no need for Him to fulfill the law of Judiaism as the messiah.

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« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2012, 03:25:49 PM »

Exactly. "Look at the hypocrisy of everyone but me. They need to just have faith, like I do."  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2012, 04:34:38 PM »

Exactly. "Look at the hypocrisy of everyone but me. They need to just have faith, like I do."  Roll Eyes
Ugh...I've heard that tripe so much I get sick.....

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« Reply #11 on: January 19, 2012, 10:10:57 PM »

This 'no religion' stuff is just the product of bad televangelism.

This, to the max.
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« Reply #12 on: January 19, 2012, 10:30:13 PM »

Did Jesus come to abolish religion? No. It's quite simple, really. Look to Christ's words in Matthew 5:

17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Sounds like Jesus held religion and religious people in very high regard. Makes sense, when you think about it. He created them. Smiley

I wonder how our "hate religion, love Jesus" crowd would react to His apparent praise for the Pharisees here. Those people were so religious, after all.

Actually, Jesus is getting at hypocrisy here. He's not praising the scribes and Pharisees, for one's righteousness must exceed theirs to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Orthodox study bible says this about that last verse;

"Righteousness is more than proper behaviour, such as the scribes and pharisees were advocating, and holy thoughts. It centres on our relationship with God."

This is the crux of Jesus' interaction with the hypocritically religious. The over-emphasising of laws upon laws upon laws that burdened the people in so many ways, with loop-holes for the rich and powerful. He came to abolish that kind of religion; the one that focuses on external obedience, the appearance of righteousness that turns on pride, turns off compassion, and leaves the heart in darkness.
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« Reply #13 on: January 19, 2012, 10:34:43 PM »

It's funny because when I first heard that poem, I thought not of him attacking the Church as some people jump to conclusions thinking, but I thought precisely of what Fr. John Romanides taught, that "religion is a neurobiological sickness."

It's sorta like how atheists attack the concept of God.  And somehow some Orthodox are able to twist that around and say, "Yes, we too do not believe in the Western God."  But when it comes to the poet, we decide to attack him.  Give me a break!
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2012, 10:40:13 PM »

"On this rock, I will build my church."

Sounds pretty clear to me.

Also, He preached in synagogues. For years. Not something one would do if one didn't like religion or believe in structured worship.

This 'no religion' stuff is just the product of bad televangelism.

Yes, I agree, it is the product of bad evangelicalism. Acutally, it's American evangelicalism, which I have seen sweep through my own family members in New Zealand like a rampant bushfire. The last few decades have produced confusion and biblical waffliness. Depending on who the popular evangelical American writer is for the moment, people are changing their views on doctrinal matters more often than they change their undies.

But I don't think the objections of the recent video are truly aimed at structured worship. Even Evangelicals have that to a degree. I think that people are confusing true religion with false religion and it's all getting lumped under the one label. Certainly, we should all endeavour to eradicate hypocrisy?
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2012, 10:47:41 PM »

It's funny because when I first heard that poem, I thought not of him attacking the Church as some people jump to conclusions thinking, but I thought precisely of what Fr. John Romanides taught, that "religion is a neurobiological sickness."

It's sorta like how atheists attack the concept of God.  And somehow some Orthodox are able to twist that around and say, "Yes, we too do not believe in the Western God."  But when it comes to the poet, we decide to attack him.  Give me a break!

I agree! As I have said before, his theology is waffly, but the overall response is baffling to me. I'm all for cutting the guy some slack and seeing that he is speaking about hypocritical, Pharisaical, external appearance, whited-sepulchre religion. Basically the club where if you don't fit in, you are ostracised.
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« Reply #16 on: January 19, 2012, 11:28:35 PM »


Actually, Jesus is getting at hypocrisy here. He's not praising the scribes and Pharisees, for one's righteousness must exceed theirs to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Apologies, perhaps "praise" is the wrong word to use here. I mean how He has used them as a sort of standard, rather than saying (as I suspect our "hate religion" poet friend would have it) "don't be anything like these people". If they were not in some way to be considered righteous, it would not make sense to speak of their righteousness (let alone to say that we must exceed them in righteousness; if they are not righteous at all, then Christ has set the bar quite low indeed!). But the OSB is correct in that they were following a wrong concept of what righteousness is, thinking that following the law was proper religion in toto.
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2012, 02:56:12 AM »


Actually, Jesus is getting at hypocrisy here. He's not praising the scribes and Pharisees, for one's righteousness must exceed theirs to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Apologies, perhaps "praise" is the wrong word to use here. I mean how He has used them as a sort of standard, rather than saying (as I suspect our "hate religion" poet friend would have it) "don't be anything like these people". If they were not in some way to be considered righteous, it would not make sense to speak of their righteousness (let alone to say that we must exceed them in righteousness; if they are not righteous at all, then Christ has set the bar quite low indeed!). But the OSB is correct in that they were following a wrong concept of what righteousness is, thinking that following the law was proper religion in toto.

Sure, if you look at the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican. It's very telling that in this story Christ has the Pharisee doing all the right things, but without any compassion in his heart for that horrible sinning Publican. His pride and condemnation of the man next to him cancelled out any good he did, because he had lost connection with his own sinfulness and need for mercy. He was all about doing it right and looking right at the same time. Goodness knows what size phylactery this guy would have been wearing during prayer.

But he had no mercy in his heart for the Publican. He was one of the *good* guys. And this had been a prevailing attitude with the wrong sort of religious people forever. Think about the Puritans, the Victorians etc. Sing your lungs out at Church on Sunday, appear in your own special pew, but flog your children bloody for disobedience, and throw your daughter out of the house if she got pregnant, for blotting the family name. Generalisation, I know, but I hope you get the point.

The balance is to do all the rights things and still have connections with other sinners, seeing ourselves in them, having compassion on them because really we are no better. We are sinners in need of mercy, too. I think that is what our poet friend is getting at; clumsily I admit and probably in a certain black and white way that evangelicals think, is that a religion of rules and traditions can make us proud and detached from the world in the wrong way if we don't connect in compassion with our fellow man.  
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2012, 03:32:38 AM »

Quote
The balance is to do all the rights things and still have connections with other sinners, seeing ourselves in them, having compassion on them because really we are no better. We are sinners in need of mercy, too.


Yes.

Quote
I think that is what our poet friend is getting at; clumsily I admit and probably in a certain black and white way that evangelicals think, is that a religion of rules and traditions can make us proud and detached from the world in the wrong way if we don't connect in compassion with our fellow man.

Sorry, but I don't buy it. Even if that is what he's getting at in some way, his way of expressing it is very irresponsible and actually a pretty good example of what he's supposedly against. Religious people are also our fellow man, not to be derided for not living up to some rube on the internet's arbitrarily chosen, incredibly malformed idea of what religion and faith are. I just can't appreciate anything about what he is saying or how he is saying it. It's self-righteous, sanctimonious garbage.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2012, 04:07:29 AM »

Quote
The balance is to do all the rights things and still have connections with other sinners, seeing ourselves in them, having compassion on them because really we are no better. We are sinners in need of mercy, too.


Yes.

Quote
I think that is what our poet friend is getting at; clumsily I admit and probably in a certain black and white way that evangelicals think, is that a religion of rules and traditions can make us proud and detached from the world in the wrong way if we don't connect in compassion with our fellow man.

Sorry, but I don't buy it. Even if that is what he's getting at in some way, his way of expressing it is very irresponsible and actually a pretty good example of what he's supposedly against. Religious people are also our fellow man, not to be derided for not living up to some rube on the internet's arbitrarily chosen, incredibly malformed idea of what religion and faith are. I just can't appreciate anything about what he is saying or how he is saying it. It's self-righteous, sanctimonious garbage.

You don't have to buy it.  Smiley

As I see it, it's the religious attitude that prompts a person to behave properly, or not.

I think that's the kind of thing our poet friend is getting at, not the person. I don't see him deriding people, per se, but hypocritical religion that might be driving a person or group to do hypocritical things. We don't deride Puritans or Victorians for being wrong. They are people no less than we, but we abhor their actions, especially when their lack of mercy and compassion is called God's work.

Christ had plenty to say about this, while still loving the person, still being prepared to die for them. A Christian must speak out against hypocrisy and not allow it to become so enmeshed in any religious group that they are blinded to it, or will even defend it against attack. We need to be alert to hypocrisy all the time. It's all around us. If it is present in ourselves, in our congregations, parishes, missions, whatever, we need to root it out and not shame the name of Christ in calling ourselves Christians.

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« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2012, 04:11:54 AM »

This 'no religion' stuff is just the product of bad televangelism.

This, to the max.
Religious broadcasting FTW
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« Reply #21 on: January 20, 2012, 04:31:32 AM »

Riddikulus: Alright. We're not going to see eye to eye on this, but it doesn't matter. This video and others like it have elicited more discussion than they really deserve. I think he's full of crap, apparently many people disagree with me. Fine.
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« Reply #22 on: January 20, 2012, 05:57:37 AM »

Riddikulus: Alright. We're not going to see eye to eye on this, but it doesn't matter. This video and others like it have elicited more discussion than they really deserve. I think he's full of crap, apparently many people disagree with me. Fine.

No problem, dzheremi.  Smiley
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I believe in One God, maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Theodosius Dobzhansky, Russian Orthodox Christian (1900-1975)
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« Reply #23 on: January 20, 2012, 11:50:44 PM »

When St Paul saw the sign of the "unknown god" he didn't assume tha the Gentiles had a wrong concept of God and refuted them.  He told them about the one true God.

If there is an Orthodox Church out there who in fact does as much (and maybe more) community service as the beauty of their church building, then rather than refuting the poet, we can tell him that the church you are searching for that you love and admire that destroys the idea of "religion" is the Orthodox church.
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Vain existence can never exist, for \\\"unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain.\\\" (Psalm 127)

If the faith is unchanged and rock solid, then the gates of Hades never prevailed in the end.
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