Crossed The Tiber

An Evangelical Converts to Catholicism

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I was born into the Catholic faith. At 14, I was "born again" and found Jesus personally but lost His Church. After thirty years as an evangelical protestant, I have come full circle to find that He has been there all the time, in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I wish others to find the beauty and truth of the Catholic faith as I have found.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"Why I Hate Religion" A 3rd Century Heresy Rears Its Ugly Head...Again

"I hate Religion , but I love Jesus" is an old re-treaded heresy that actually has its roots in a movement in the 3rd century by a Catholic Christian named Montanus who believed God spoke to him directly with new prophecy and instruction. The Montanists felt they could forgive sins without the hierarchy of the Church and removed themselves from the authority of the Church that had been started by Jesus and the apostles. They called themselves the "spirituales" (spiritual ones) while everyone else was "carnal." Though the movement slowly faded out and was declared a heresy, this idea pops up every generation or so. The idea that one doesn't need anything but a personal relationship with Jesus creates a false and misleading dichotomy. Either you love Jesus=Good, or you are Religious=Bad. Christianity has been a hierarchical RELIGION (there I said it) since Jesus set up His Church built on Peter and his successors(later called Fathers/papas or popes).
In the 1970's this old rant re-appeared in evangelical contemporary Christian music artist's Scott Wesley Brown singing "There's no doubt about it, I just want to shout it. I'm not religious anymore, I just love the Lord."  (By the way, does anyone else think this tune is a bit similar to Garden Party?)

Clearly this young man, Jefferson Bethke, is passionate about his faith, but a passionate faith that divorces itself from the historical faith and good theology is a dangerous recipe for further heresy. He misunderstands what religion truly is. What does the bible say about religion? "Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27 So if scripture makes the conclusion that pure, true religion involves doing good and avoiding sin, why should we hate religion? There is no dichotomy between being religious and loving God. True religion manifests the love of God by doing good in this world, helping widows, orphans, unwed mothers, street people, hookers and bums.

This recent rant on YouTube has encouraged folks to say "yeah, I can keep sinning and I don't have to follow rules. As long as I love Jesus, I'm ok." And that, my friends, is Outback Steakhouse Christianity; "No Rules, Just Right." Much more popular than "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the pharisees, you won't enter the kingdom of God."


Blogger owen swain said...

Well said Russ. I am sorry to see Catholics who have been buying into this vlog rant. Both the former and latter response come from an ignorance of what the meaning of true religion is.

Another phrase I find unhelpful and that is also adopted by Catholic Christians is to say, "I am a follower of Jesus." Jesus had many followers, some of them were very, very close to him and yet we read how even they turned away for ever in John 6 following what we know now as the Bread of Life discourse. I don't want to be a follower of Jesus. I am not at all interested in following him. I want to be his disciple. Peter, a disciple even sinned to the point of denying Christ but repented and being not a mere follower remained with Christ even to this day.

January 15, 2012 1:16 PM  
Blogger Russ Rentler, M.D. said...

I don't want to be a follower, I want to be a disciple!!!! Yes yes Amen and Amen!!!
thanks Owen!

January 15, 2012 2:29 PM  

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