The Following is from my vault. It is as timely today as the day it first appeared in syndication 10-years ago.
Religion centers on man’s personal relationship with man based on the adherence to a personalized set or institutionalized system of attitudes, beliefs and practices. It is the scrupulous conformity to a cause, principle or system of beliefs.
Christianity on the other hand is not only a faith derived from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture – it is the personal one to one relationship with “God the Father” based on acceptance and belief in His Son.
Ergo, it is not religion that is under attack in the market-square, rather it is “Christ”-ianity.
Religion has to do with man-ordained customs and behaviors; Christianity has to do with one’s personal relationship through faith in Jesus Christ.
One can be religious in their pursuit of the perfect landscape or anger management; in their pursuit of being the perfect parent, church attendance or their golf game; but one can only be a Christian as it pertains to their belief, acceptance and faith in Christ.
The understanding of said differences between religion and Christianity, with respect to the assaults on the latter, has become unnecessarily complicated.
Consider: It is not the [religious] holiday of Christmas that is politically incorrect – it is the worship of the “Christ” of Christmas that has become incorrect. The day itself is celebrated absent thereof under the guise of not wanting to offend.
It is not the “Ten Commandments” that are under attack in Alabama, rather, in reality, it is their “Author.” It is not religion that has been forced from the public schools and seats of government – quite the opposite. It is the “personage” of Christianity “Who” has been removed.
Brian Conner of the Christian Broadcasting Network reported that California had state-mandated standards for the sixth and seventh graders to participate in “a three week study of Islam that’s required curriculum for all 7th-grade public-school children.” (“Islam Taught In California Schools” – Feb. 8, 2002)
Connor’s report included what should have been disturbing details, e.g., Muslim beliefs seemed to be presented as fact, rather than matters of faith. He reported that the students had to adopt an Islamic name and take a position as being a Muslim.
Accompanying study materials taught the children what the religion did and how to practice it. Most disturbing was that at their website it clearly stated “students will learn about the Islamic five pillars of faith and Muhammad. While conversely details of the Christendom simulation which was based only in medieval times, made no reference to the four gospels, or even to Jesus Christ.”
Connor reported that “In addition, the actual student guide for Interact’s Islamic curriculum tells students: ‘from the beginning, you and your classmates will become Muslims.’” The students even staged their own jihad as part of a dice game.
Is there anyone who cannot envision the deluge of renunciation if these same students were told “they would become Christians” as part of a world religion curriculum, and were mandated to learn “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh to the Father, but by Me;” or “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God?”
Outrage was expressed in June of 2002 when it was learned that the University of North Carolina’s summer reading requirement for incoming freshman was a book on Islam.
What’s the difference? Why would public institutions mandate religious practices and studies while eschewing all appearance of Christian study? The answer is the personage upon “Whom” Christianity is based.
Jeff Johnson reported that an interfaith group founded by Unification Church leader Sun Myung Moon was spearheading an effort to have Christian ministers remove crosses from their churches, calling them a symbol of oppression and perceived superiority. The group views the “Cross of Christ” as a symbol of religious intolerance, forced conversions and even racism. (CNSNews, “Christian Churches Should Stop Using the Cross, Group Says” – Aug. 22, 2003)
What other faith could be attacked as viciously without fear of impunity? None! Why? Because in Christianity one finds absolutes and the absence of respect for person, i.e., no one is without sin; and being good doesn’t count.
The moral cachexia of our society is obvious to all who will see. But in religious circles, man need not accept said deterioration as his fault. It is the fault of a parent, poverty or a situation. And often, it is not viewed as deterioration at all.
Another reason that comes to my mind is that maybe, just maybe, the true enemy of Christianity has read the last chapter of the book Christians read; and said enemy is just a little concerned about his future.
Yesterday's column on the Daily Rant by Pastor Stephen Nash has even more to say about the difference in the two religions. You can read it here.