Religion


            “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” So says Amendment I of the U.S. Constitution. “No religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Article. VI. U.S. Constitution. That is all the U. S. Constitution says about religion. Or is it? It says nothing about Christianity; or does it?

            The words “religion” or “religious” are not found in the Old Testament. “Religion” is used in Acts 26:5 and Galatians 1:13 & 14 in speaking of the “Jew’s religion.” Luke writes of the “religious proselytes” who followed Paul and Barnabas in Acts 13:43. James writes of those who “seem to be religious,” and speaks of those whose “religion is vain” and goes on to say that, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:26 & 27.

That is the extent of the use of the terms in the Christian Bible.

            There is no record that Jesus ever used the terms religion or religious. He did, however say that, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

            Now, where does all that leave us? Well first of all it is totally ridiculous to say that Jesus is a great religious teacher, but not the promised messiah, the son of God, or that he had no divinity. Jesus said he was the son of God, the “door,” the “good shepherd,” and that He was coming again. If these statements are not true then he was not a great religious teacher, He was simply a monumental liar.

            Now our Constitution says nothing about church yet we seem to have something today that is called, “the separation of church and state.” The earliest use of this term that I have found is Thomas Jefferson writing to the Danbury Baptist and telling them that he hoped they would maintain, “a separation of church and state.” Jefferson’s letter may illustrate the founders thinking but his correspondence is not law. Also I find it interesting that Jefferson is urging the church to maintain the separation, not the government. Modern judicial officials might learn something from this.

            Why does the constitution say what it does about religion? Well the US was formed by thirteen colonies all of which had different religious views. Massachusetts, for instance, was Puritan; Pennsylvania was Quaker. None of them were Islamic. The officials in Massachusetts governed their state by their religion. If you did not subscribe to their views you were not welcome. Quakers, the Society of Friends, were persuaded the Puritans were wrong and went there to try to convert them. Some were arrested and then evicted and told if they returned they would be executed. Three, or some say four, preachers came back, including Mary Dyer, and were hanged by their necks until they were dead. This would have continued had not King George III ordered it stopped. So, in view of what had gone on in the colonies, it would seem that “no religious test”simply meant that one could not be required to subscribe to a particular brand of Christianity. We used to sing, “give me the old time religion” meaning old time Christianity. Read the writings of political leaders throughout the history of the USA, prior to the latter half or so of the 20th century, and you will find that when they spoke of religion they were speaking of Christianity. America was founded as a Christian nation. We used to know this. Judaism was just tolerated; even though many spoke ill of the Jews; mostly because of their business practices. It was not wise to speak ill of them, in a public forum, because many were rich and powerful.

            Jesus never argued that His religion is right and yours is wrong. No, He simply said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” At this point I would like to use the Ontological Argument that proves the existence of God. But that would likely be fruitless because, “he that is convinced against his will remains of the same opinion still.” The Bible makes no attempt to prove the existence of God but simply says that, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalm 14:1.) Mark begins his Gospel with, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” He then goes on and tells the story, wasting no time to try to prove there is a

God, but simply assumes it. Why? Well, before I became a Christian nearly 44 years ago I was an atheist. Why was I an atheist? Because I knew that if there is a God, I would be responsible to Him. I wanted no such responsibility. Thus I threw out God and with Him went my responsibility. Mark knew that if you were that fool nothing he could say would change you.

            I am reminded of the story of two old friends. One, a professed atheist, was visiting his old friend, a Christian, in the office of his place of business. During this visitation the atheist noticed an interesting display on a desk to his right. Upon examining it he found that it was a working model of our solar system. He was quite taken with it and asked his friend, “Who made it?” His Christian friend responded, “Nobody!” The atheist, of course, would not accept this answer and repeated his question. He got the same answer. This went on until the atheist realized that he assumed it must have a creator. If the model must have a creator then it follows that that which is modeled must have a creator. Thus proving that “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.”

            Our founding fathers knew this and founded this as a Christian nation. The father of our country, George Washington, said, “it is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” But our liberal judicial officers like to say that the U. S. Constitution is a “living document.” That seems to me to be just a convenient way for them to say that the constitution means what they say it means. Thus they remove themselves from their responsibility to the U. S. Constitution and make the constitution inferior to them.

            Oh yes, Our 7th president, Andrew Jackson, said of the Bible: “That book, sir, is the rock on which our republic rests.” If our nation doesn’t seem to be at rest these days, there is no reason to wonder why.

            All reason (logic) must start with a premise. These are not proven but just assumed, as Mark did with his Gospel; or as our Founding Fathers did when they said, “We hold these truths to be self evident.” (The Declaration of Independence). They went on to say that we are endowed by our “Creator.” They assumed God. All reason starts with that premise (assumption) and if that premise is incorrect then there is no reason. But wait, I reached the conclusion of no reason by logic and if there is no God there is no reason and if there is no reason ............... My oh My, how all these brilliant minds can wander off into never-never land.

            Now, all of this brings me to two inevitable conclusions. One, when the U. S. Constitution speaks of “religion” it is speaking of Christianity. I have a right to worship God, in Christ, as I choose. I have no right to be a heathen, i.e. worship Allah, or follow Buddha or some other abomination. Two, Christianity is reasonable, it is not magic. There can be no salvation in taking communion weekly, or at any other pace. Water baptism will not make you “born again.” Last Rites will not get you into heaven. All such things are, in the final analysis, worthless. Jesus was quite clear; “You must be born again.” This is a spiritual birth. Before Adam and Eve sinned, they lived and walked in the Spirit. One must be made a new creature in Christ and be Spirit led, as the Scripture says: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the Sons of God.”

            But, just to be clear; what is faith; what does it mean to believe? We use these words (concepts) in different ways. You tell me something and I choose to believe you. Why? Well either it is because what you tell me sounds reasonable or because I have faith that you wouldn’t deceive me. Faith? I flip the switch and the light comes on. I trust Almighty God for something I am praying for, which I believe is according to His will, and it comes to pass. The woman believed that if she could touch the hem of His garment she would be healed. She did and it came to pass. Why? Because there was some kind of mystical power in His clothes? No, but because Jesus had the power to meet her need. The touching of His garment was incidental and was an example of God condescending to man’s weakness. Also it was God requiring her to put some legs, effort, on her faith to demonstrate that she really believed. There is no power in any ritual; there never has been and there never will be. No priest has any spiritual power not available to anyone who has the real faith to believe God for it. Amos said, “I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son;” but God said, “Go prophesy unto my people Israel.” He prophesied. Why? Because he was a son of Aaron, or Melchisedec, or ordained by the Pope of Rome? No but because God chose him, a “herdman and a gatherer of sycomore fruit.” “The just shall live by faith.” Again, what is faith? Well “faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen.” So be it