- Book Reviews
- About me
Welcome to the online home of Tim Challies, blogger, author, and book reviewer.
Losing My Religion
August 09, 2005
It is a mild, grey morning at the cottage. My daughter is still asleep, so I have been unable to dial-up and do my twice-daily email check (that’s about all I do when I’m on vacation). So I’ve been passing the time by looking through directories of old articles. Among these I found the four articles that kick-started this site back in 2002. “Calvinism vs Arminianism” is dated October 10, 2002. “Mother Teresa” is dated October 28. Those articles were posted back when this site was only a repository for family photographs. Almost a year passes before it becomes a blog. A few months later there are articles about the band Evanescence and another examining my own propensity for evil. Those articles were really my first attempts at putting pen to paper, so to speak, and posting public articles. In October of that year I decided to get serious about blogging and haven’t missed a day since November 1, 2003.
There is one other article I found that I’m quite sure I never posted. But it seems that it was an important one in my spiritual development at the time. This was a time when I was considering walking away from the Reformed faith. Reformed was all I had known, yet I had begun attending a non-Reformed church and had seen a faith that I considered more active and more exciting. My wife and I began, pragmatically, I suppose, to wonder if being Reformed was a spiritual liability.
And so I wrote an article I entitled “Losing My Religion.” I am almost embarrassed posting it because it is somewhat private, but at the same time I found it interesting. I need to reflect on how successful I was in losing my religion. I have only vague memories of writing the article, but know that it came at a time when I began to “backwards engineer” my faith. This is a term I often used at the time and described the process of trying to dismantle my beliefs, bit-by-bit, to try to understand what was mine, what was tradition, and what was biblical.
And so I give you, without any further commentary, “Losing My Religion.”
Etymology: Middle English religioun, from Latin religion-, religio supernatural constraint, sanction, religious practice, perhaps from religare to restrain, tie back — more at RELY
Date: 13th century
1 a : the state of a religious a nun in her 20th year of religion b (1) : the service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance
2 : a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices
3 archaic : scrupulous conformity : CONSCIENTIOUSNESS
4 : a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith
- re·li·gion·less adjective
Is it not true that everyone in this world is searching for a system of beliefs to which they can subscribe with scrupulous conformity? And do we not all wish to have a cause, principle or system of belief to which we can hold with ardor and faith? Based on such a drab description it is no wonder that so many people in our society are abandoning religion. There are some who are comforted by holding to an institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices, but certainly the general public is turning its back on just such a portrayal of religion. And who can blame people for running away from beliefs so stagnant and dreary?
The Christian faith, which our society is so quickly abandoning, should be much more than a commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance. A religion based upon scrupulous conformity is destined to lead to legalism. Legalism, in turn, binds us to a reliance on our own abilities to find purpose and meaning in life.
Jesus was a perfectly sane man. Would it be sensible to suffer and die to save the world from sin and to deliver God’s people from the clutches of the Law in order to institutionalize a system of restraints and constraints? No! Faith, true saving faith, provides freedom. It provides joy and it provides pleasure. As Christians it becomes our joy and our delight to find pleasure in God. It is only in Him and through Him and ultimately through a restoration of a relationship with Him that we can find freedom. We are set free from the ties that have bound us and are allowed to experience true communion with our Creator.
I believe that every Christian has, within him, some religion. Within each of us there is desire to conform to an institutionalized system of beliefs. Sometimes we all prefer to be constrained rather than allowing ourselves to really be set free.
And so I am losing my religion. It is difficult to do. In many cases certain tenets of my religion have been with me since I was old enough to understand anything. Others have crept in somewhere along the journey and have wormed their way into the core of my being. Such beliefs are difficult to root out, and as a matter of fact, are difficult even to see within myself. Yet I am confident that with honest and deliberate self-examination I will be able to find them, contain them, and eradicate them.
I refuse to live a life bound by the bonds of religion. I want a faith that is living and breathing, a faith that wrap itself around every part of my life.
Life is far too short to miss the real thing.