Religion vs Christianity
Most of the muddled attitudes prevailing in discussions of vital issues are due to the fact that we do not analyze the meaning of the terms we write, read and hear. Such words as “democracy,” “liberalism” and “religion” are being worked overtime in the daily vocabulary of millions of people who would be confused if asked to state just what they mean by these terms. Because of the diverse meanings applied to such words, it is all the more important to say exactly what one means when he uses them.
Take the word “religion” for example: What does it mean to you when you see it in print, or when someone uses it in an address, or in conversation? Do you analyze what the other person means by the word? Furthermore, do you really know what you mean when you use it yourself?
The chief misuse of the word “religion” makes it synonymous with the word “Christianity.” Yet it requires nothing more complicated than consulting a dictionary to convince anyone that “religion” and “Christianity” are not synonymous terms.
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary tells us that religion is
“The service and adoration of God or a god as expressed in forms of worship. One of the systems of faith and worship.”
The same book defines Christianity as
“The body of Christian believers. State or fact of being a Christian.”
And also informs us that a Christian is
“One who believe, or professes or is assumed to believe, in Jesus Christ, and the truth as taught by Him.”
In other words, Christianity is a religion but not all religions are Christian in faith and practice. This fact is so simple and well known when clearly stated that one feels rather foolish to think he ever used these words synonymously, or permitted himself/herself to be misled by anyone else who so misused them.
Mohammedanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism and Judaism are all religions, but most assuredly not Christians. The fanatical zealous promoters of Communism, Nazism and Fascism have developed these movements into a religion for millions of idolatrous subjects. The state has become a kind of mystic godhead and the three leaders are considered by themselves and many of their followers to be manifestations of deity.
Some of the most religious-minded persons imaginable; positively missionary-minded, judging by the voluminous literature they put out; belong to so-called Ethical” societies and “Free Religious” movements which advocate the complete subjugation or, better still, eradication of Christianity. In all these groups we find what may be defined as religion but in none of them do we find Christianity. Christians are merely tolerated by them for the time being until such future time as they can be ridiculed out of existence or eliminated by other methods more brutal if not less despicable.
Let us take a brief look at some of these religions. We will examine them to compare their resemblance to Christianity. A study of comparative religion reveals that adherents of the six religions named first believe in God or in some Supreme Being as Creator. They have spiritual aspirations. The reverence and worship. They are exceedingly devout in observing their religious rites.
All have their sacred books which contain the Golden Rule and at least a portion of the Ten Commandments. They are taught in their bibles to value moral precepts (except Judaism, the jews are taught no such thing), love and the brotherhood of man. In all these faiths there are those who hunger and strive for a higher and a more pure life. All raise fundamental questions about humanity’s life on earth and their future destiny but none of the answers agree.
Many differences in these religions and Christianity may be cited; however, the two outstanding ones will suffice for the present. Christianity alone stands upon the irrefutable evidence of fulfilled prophecy and a resurrected Yahshua. The dynamic of a risen Yahshua makes Christianity a religion of power. Other religions advocate righteousness and the ideal life but they lack power to transmit the existing social order.
It is for this reason that whole contents of peoples, relying for centuries upon such religions as Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Mohammedanism, have remained to such a such a great extent in darkness, depravity, superstition and fear.
This is one of the reasons the Jews have been unable to make spiritual progress in the course of several thousand years but even now are fulfilling the destiny ascribed to them by Yahshua and the prophets. Some Judeo-Christians say that the Jews for a time were entrusted with the preservation of the Word and the kingdom, but this is a damnable and provable lie. They have never had the scriptures without trying to destroy them or change them into something blasphemous. When Yahshua came He declared they had betrayed and discarded the teachings of Moses and the prophets and substituting the “Tradition of the Elders,” which make the Word of God of none effect.
Because of this they failed to recognize Yahshua as the Messiah and forfeited any inheritance they might have had in His Kingdom, and relegated themselves to destruction. “The Kingdom of God shall be taken from you,” was Yahshua’s edict, “and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43) Christianity is the only religion with transforming power; Christianity demonstrates this power by its fruits.
So, in these days, when one talks or writes about religion, the first thing he should do is to make clear what kind of religion he is discussing. An important illustration of this need is at hand in an article, “Why I Believe in God,” by A.J. Cronin, published in the April 9, 1939 issue of This Week Magazine.
This example may be considered important because of the popularity of the author and the wide circulation of the magazine carrying the article. Dr. Cronin writes with charm and undoubted sincerity. The article in question has a decided spiritual trend; it has been accepted as a genuine Christian message by devout church members who have remarked, “Did you read the wonderful article by Dr. Cronin in last Sunday’s newspaper? Isn’t it great to find men like that believing in God?”
So it seems on the surface after a casual reading; but let us examine the matter more fully. In the first place we are told that this article is an Eastern message. Now what is Easter? While the word is pagan in origin, being derived from the name of the old Teutonic goddess of spring, it has only one meaning to the Christian world and that is the Resurrection of Yahshua. Naturally then in any Easter message one expects to find something about the resurrected Yahshua of Christianity.
A careful look at this Easter message reveals this the surprising fact that Dr. Cronin fails to mention Yahshua in the discussion of his belief in God. Was this strange omission deliberate or unintentional? The nearest he comes to it is when he quotes the dying words of a “great” agnostic; “Galilean, thou hast conquered.” Eastern without Yahshua! One might as well try reviewing Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” without mentioning Hamlet.
The author considers his crowning achievement to be the fact that life’s experiences have taught him to believe in God. Yet he apologizes for the admission presumably in case some reader may consider it bad taste to believe in a Creator. He even fears that such a profession of faith may be a bit dangerous on account of propagandists. What needless apprehension!
A feeble confession of faith that ignores Yahshua is not likely to offend the enemies of God. Dr. Cronin then relates some interesting experiences from his medical practice which made profound impressions upon him; emotional experiences which could not be explained away and finally punctured his armor of agnosticism.
We see here religious experiences that indicate some spiritual growth but they fail to reach the goal. When the evidence is all in, the author believes in God, the Creator. That is something of course, better than atheism or agnosticism, but it is not enough. Paul tells us that in time past he was exceedingly zealous of the Jews’ religion, believing in God according to the tradition of Judaism.
Yet when he met Yahshua, the course of his life changed so that he loved what he had once hated and hated the things he once loved. It would seem from Dr. Cronin’s admission that his spiritual development has stopped where Paul’s was before the Damascus experience. If so, Yahshua would say to him what He said to His disciples:
“Ye believe in God, believe also in me.” (John 14:1)
Now we have come to the crux of the matter; the point where Christianity parts company with all other religions. The test of a Christian is not his belief in God Mohammedans, Jews and Zoroastrians believe in God. The thing which makes a man a Christian is his belief in Yahshua as the Son of God, the only Savior and Redeemer of Israel. “What think ye of Christ?” is the question every man must answer to determine whether or not he is a Christian:
“God hath given to us (Israelites, and no other race or people) eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” (1 John 5:11-12)
When Dr. Cronin writes of feeling upon his cheek “the breath of the Eternal,” he is merely stating in a poetic manner that he was conscious of spiritual impulses, but these impulses alone do not make one a Christian. Even members of savage tribes have an instinctive sense of the Eternal. An African workman, hearing about Yahshua for the first time, exclaimed, “I’ve always know there ought to be a God like that.”
Cain was exercising religion when he brought offerings of the field to lay upon God’s altar. He knew why they were rejected but he was too stubborn to obey. Men who audaciously ignore Christ will be amazed some day to learn that there is now no approach to God save through Christ; that is, for men who have had opportunities to know that God has spoken to the world through His Son. See how clearly this is stated in Romans 5:1-2:
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.”
“For through him we both have access by one spirit unto the Father.” (Ephesians 2:18)
This writing by Dr. Cronin is a typical viewpoint of a large number of intelligent, cultured people who, because of pride of intellect, loathe bowing the knee in full surrender to Yahshua. These capable persons possess latent spiritual powers that are denied the opportunities for development. There lives are egocentric rather than Christocentric.
Consequently, instead of trying, to “come in the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature, of the fulness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:13), they talk about the living image of a god within each man. The little god, when measured, is always found wanting. Dr. Cronin admits at the last that his belief is blind, confused and contradictory. He says he is like Kafka’s surveyor; “trying, trying to get into a castle that I scarcely know to exist.”
Confusion and uncertainty are the fruits of all religious experiments and experiences that are not centered in the Christ of God. Christianity is the only religion which reveals the end from the beginning; the Christ of Christianity is the only prophet to follow death with the triumph of an empty tomb:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” (Hebrews 1:1-3)
(Taken, in part, from an article by C.R. Dickey, Biblical Treasures, vol. I, pp. 43‑45)