g2k - now the generation

"We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think that religion stops people from thinking. I think it justifies crazies. I think flying planes into a building was a faith-based initiative. I think religion is a neurological disorder. If you look at it logically, it's something that was drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was drilled into mine at that age. And   you really can't be responsible when you are a kid for what adults put into your head." Bill Mahre, February 15, 2005

I sat up and listened this week as Bill Mahre put himself in the media spotlight with his remark that “religion is a neurological disorder.”

My initial knee-jerk reaction was to get angry with Mahre and condemn his statement until a comment-ator brought me back to reality with this; “we must distinguish between “religion” and “faith.”

If you've studied world history, you know that it was the socialist Karl Marx who said, “religion is the opiate of the masses.”

John Lennon’s famous song, “Imagine” talks about “nothing to kill or die for and no religion too.

Christians have long had problems with the likes of Marx, Lennon and now Mahre – but perhaps we     need to take a closer look at what's really being said by non-religionists and ask if there might be     grains of truth in their bushels of attack.

I’m not defending Bill Mahre’s position on God or his politics. I certainly am not a follower of Karl Marx     or a proponent of Lennon’s philosophies, but there is something in their statements that underscores       a truth that is emerging from the “fog of war” that exists between  spiritual, religious and secular segments of society. Notice the differentiation between “spiritual” and “religious,” the distinction the commentator quoted above noted.

I don’t believe most non or anti-religion people really have as much a war with God as they do with religion.

Years ago, I heard Dr. C.M. Ward – a conservative Pentecostal Christian leader say “The tendency of religion is to muddy.” I didn’t fully appreciate his words then. Much later I really looked hard at what    Jesus said about religion: “...you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.” (Mt. 15:6).

I remember someone, back in college days telling us “religion is man’s attempt to get up to God; Christianity is God reaching down to man.” That’s why we’ve often said to non-Christians “we’re not talking about religion, we’re talking about relationship with Jesus. "Christianity is not a religion," they would intone," it is a relationship with a Person, Jesus Christ." But really, we, the collective "us" of Christianity have twisted our faith into a religion as surely as ancient Israel created for themselves a    king just like the other nations around them had.

The word “religion” has an interesting etymology: It comes from the Latin religio, which means both “supernatural constraint” and “religious practice,” perhaps from religare to restrain. The root of the    word also gives us the word “rely” which means to be dependent.

Think about that for a moment: Religion restrains and causes dependency.

Restraint is defined as “a device that restricts movement.” Jesus said He had come that we might     have life and life more abundant; yet millions of people who have come to the church to find God and to find a relationship with heaven have also walked away in varying degrees of disappointment frustration and confusion.

Some, as Bill Mahre had religion “drilled into your head when you were a small child. It certainly was   drilled into mine at that age.”

Sad, isn’t it? The thing that was sent to give life, to bring liberty and to set us free was corrupted      and twisted into something that is “drilled into” heads of small children: “restraint” and “dependency.”

I guess religion was drilled into my head when I was young. Like many people of my generation I   attended Sunday School and Church and all the attendant meetings, programs and services. But       when I was 21 years old, I met a Person named Jesus. I discovered that God liked me, that He wasn’t angry with me, and that He intended to be my best Friend in this world and my Companion one day    when I step out of time into eternity. I found a relationship and the relationship displaced religion.

The more I think about Bill Mahre’s comments, whatever else he means or intends by them, I’m     beginning to agree with him, “I think religion is a neurological disorder.” I would recommend to Mr.    Mahre and to everybody who has a problem with religion – meet a Man named Jesus; He specializes       in healing neurological disorders.

In His Grace,

Greg

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