The other day, I encountered a blog by someone named David Foster who disputed the claim I and many others have made: that Christianity is about a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, rather than an ‘organized religion’.
“Even if this ‘being’, which you claim to have a relationship with, does exist, your worshipping of him or her still constitutes a religion,” David writes. “I would say the same about people whose praise of their boyfriend or girlfriend crosses the line into worship.”
An interesting point. But just because serious Christians worship God and his son, Jesus, doesn’t make it a religion. Serious Christians – and many others – believe God made this entire universe, including the air you are breathing as you read this essay. You and I would not be alive without some sort of creator, so why shouldn’t He be worshipped? And that’s the precise reason why worshipping God is nothing like worshipping your spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend.
Another point from the David Foster blog: “To me, it seems that Christians are simply believing in something they were indoctrinated to believe in, usually since childhood.”
Okay, then, David. How do you explain me? My entire biological family bought into the ridicule our culture has for Christianity and abandoned it decades ago. Until 2002, I was with them 100 per cent. Yet, I changed – and it wasn’t because of an awful crisis, either. So my question remains, David: how do you explain me and so many others who were NOT ‘indoctrinated’ into Christian beliefs, yet they still made a life-changing commitment to Jesus?
Finally, David Foster makes this assertion: “To me, the relationship Christians have with Jesus is in no way distinguishable from the relationship children have with their imaginary friends. I’ll change my mind in the event a Christian demonstrates that Jesus can do something tangible that an imaginary friend cannot.”
There are all kinds of examples of Jesus doing what most of us would consider nearly impossible. Off the top of my head, I think of Michael ‘Bull’ Roberts, a man who graduated from a horrific childhood to become a gang leader who ran most of the drug trade in the Canadian province of Alberta.
Michael’s ‘friends’ in the drug world eventually turned on him, beating him savagely and leaving him for dead. In the aftermath, he turned to Jesus. Today? No more gang activity. No more drug dealing. No more violence. In fact, Michael now spends his time helping street kids, society’s outcasts and people in prisons.
I suppose if David Foster and other skeptics want to credit Michael’s new life to an ‘imaginary friend’, they will find a way. But wouldn’t that position smack of the very desperation that David attributes to Christians?
So what about you? Where do you stand on the notion of Christianity being a relationship rather than a religion? Post your thoughts below and let’s have a conversation.