Wm. Paul Young in his book lies we believe about God quotes Robert F. Capon when he writes: “Christianity is not a religion.” Here is the whole quote from Capon:
“Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the proclamation of the end
of religion, not a new religion. or even the best of all religions.
If the cross is the sign of anything, it’s the sign that God has gone out
of the religion business and solved all of the world’s problems
without requiring a singly human being to do a single religious thing.
What the cross is actually a sign of is the fact that religion can’t do a thing
about the world’s problems-that it never did work and it never will.”
A little strong for some, I suppose, but if one were to look honestly at religion’s track record it seems as if religions create more problems than it solves. Many believe that religion is a structure created by human beings. I believe this as well, but I am not inclined to think this is a bad thing. I love coming together with folks who have similar values to my own and to worship with them in ways that is a comfort to us all. I do believe in freedom, however, to go where one’s heart leads without being made to feel guilty or black-sheepish.
Religion has many good aspects one of which is to call people to service. I see churches with social justice committees and committees that gather its members around those who grieve or are having hard times. But we don’t really need religion to do these things, just someone to get the word out and make a list of needs. Religion seems to do this better because it comes with a preexisting on-call community.
Jesus was a Jew. He practiced his religion faithfully, though he grumbled when he saw that sometimes rules conflict with charity rather than facilitate it. He never intended to start a new religion. He promoted a way of life that could function within any religious community and outside a religious community. It could function within any political system or independent of such. “Jesus is the Way,” Young maintains. Here is how it works:
If you see a need, take care of it and serve in a respectful, loving, non-judgmental manner. If you are exclusive, allowing only certain people in, that doesn’t count as really living the Way. Worthiness is not one’s concern when loving. If a need is too great for you to take care of yourself, call others in and give them the opportunity to love. Never speak ill of anyone. Don’t even think ill of anyone.
Gandhi said that if just one person lived fully as Jesus did, they could change the world. It seems that Jesus did and one might wonder how it is the world has changed. Well, when people truly live the Way, the world around them changes. People are healed, the naked are clothed, the hungry are fed, the imprisoned find freedom. Granted, it it doesn’t seem to change the whole world at once, but the change occurs nonetheless.
John Huebsch, founder of Common Hope, an organization that has changed the lives of thousands of Guatemalans, was asked how he keeps from getting discouraged when he sees the devastating poverty among the Guatemalan people. He said that he tries to change the world, but is satisfied to do it one person at a time.