God without religion?

August 13th, 2011 in Doctrine. Tags: , , ,

A friend of mine (G’day T!) sent me this link to a new book called God Without Religion by Andrew Farley (he’s pastor of a church in Lubbock, Buddy Holly’s home town). I think it’s worth a look. Here are some quotes from the article:

“First we have to define ‘religion,’ which I do on the first page of the book. The root of the word is the Latin re meaning ‘again’ and ligare meaning ‘to bind’. It essentially means a return to bondage…. That’s not what the New Testament is about.”

“The biggest problem with religion is that Christians can get caught up in obeying Old Testament laws instead of experiencing New Testament freedom.”

“Jesus said, ‘The truth will set us free,’ and, ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ Religion is essentially offering us the opposite.”

For a more complete discussion of christians and the Old Testament, see The Old Testament law and christians. For more on church, religion and Jesus, watch this space!

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  1. While Tag Surfing…
    Having not read this book, I will risk writing a response to this quote. And, I disagree most heartily.
    I do not believe there is a clearer picture of our salvation than the story of Israel’s escape from bondage. Their salvation, accomplished through a series of plagues that culminated with the events of Passover was accomplished though faith in God’s power. But, that isn’t the end of their story. Through forty years of wandering, they were freed from the bondage of the world view that they had learned in Egypt. And, when they entered the Promise Land they bound themselves to serve God. We are to reorient our lives as bond-servants of the Living God. Paul and Titus both acknowledge their status. James asserts that faith without works is dead. I believe that we most certainly bind ourselves to God when we become apostles of Christ.
    The biggest problem with religion is that Christians can get caught up in experiencing New Testament freedom and fall into the heresy of antinomianism and ethical permissiveness.

  2. G’day Julie, I’m glad you tag surfed here and left a comment.
    We are agreed about your first point, that we can see a picture of salvation (as well as prophecies of Jesus and the character of God) in the Old Testament. My point is that the New Testament makes it clear that the new covenant replaces the old, provides a different basis for our relationship with God, and expects different (and higher) standards of behaviour.
    But I disagree with your second point. Of course I agree that living in a way that grieves the Holy Spirit is wrong, but going back to the old covenant of law is not the answer – replacing one error with another isn’t helpful. Rather we need to go on to a new way of walking in the Spirit. I think I will expand on this in a new post. Please come back and tell me what you think.
    Best wishes.

  3. What do you see as your covenant responsibilities under the new covenant?
    If you define Torah Observance (Law) as following a list of rules derived from the books of Moses, Jewish written and oral law or Rabbinical texts (or any combination of those things), I am not a Torah observant Christian. But, I am a servant of the God of Israel whose character was revealed in the Laws of the Old Testament. My life should reflect his character. In my past life, I was an officer in the US military. Under military law, there is an Article 133—Conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman. I was aware that I represented myself, the US Army and my country. I believe that there is conduct unbecoming a Christian too.
    On the Sermon on the Mount, Christ outlined our responsibility to pray, fast and perform acts of charity. In the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15, Gentile Christians are commanded to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. The Didache begins with the assertion, “There are two paths, one of life and one of death, and the difference is great between the two paths.” The regulations in that document seem to mimic the truths of Galatians where right after telling his readers they are free, he exhorts them to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh and differentiates the behaviors apparent in the two-ways.

  4. Hello again. I think I agree with pretty much everything you say here, though you seem to think it is contrary to what I am saying. For example:
    * Yes of course there is conduct unbecoming of a christian, and that is not following Jesus’ commands and not walking in the Spirit.
    * Yes, indeed, our freedom is to be used to walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh. But there is still freedom from the law.
    * The apostolic decree in Acts 15 did emphasise a few old covenant rules, but it was a political compromise. Acts records what they decided but doesn’t tell us if it was right. Paul makes it clear (1 Corinthians chapter 8 ) that those commands about meat offered to idols were unnecessary.
    Re your question: my covenant responsibilities are to walk in the Spirit and follow the way of Jesus. Jesus gives us a lot of guidance about what he expects (e.g. inner holiness, not just outer conformity).
    Thanks again, I appreciate your comments.
    PS I am interested to see that you served in the military. As a matter of minor interest, I served in the Australian army for two years, as a conscript during the Vietnam war.

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