— By LOU TISCIONE
You may think that this pastor’s “gone to meddling.” But, I assure you that the topic of religion is extremely important. Since religion is important, we should concern ourselves with what is called true religion.
Religion is generally defined as a set of beliefs that connect the cause of nature and the purpose of life. Religion is relevant for all whether one is an evolutionist or a creationist. Even those who hold to a man-centered world-view practice a religion called secular humanism.
Those of us who believe in the Creator affirm that man was made for worship. Therefore mankind has always pursued a means to reconcile himself to the Creator.
Two Latin words combine to form the word religion. “Re” means to return and “ligare” means to bind. So, religion is descriptive of the means by which men seek to “bind” themselves to their Creator. Another way of stating the same thing is to define religion as the means by which we seek reconciliation with our Creator.
Since religion involves reconciliation and all men express religion, it is reasonable to seek true religion. True religion is the real expression of reconciliation to God. That is, true religion reflects a right understanding of man’s relationship to God. He is the Creator and we are creatures. The Westminster Confession of Faith used the term true religion in defining the visible church. The visible church is made up of all throughout the world who profess the true religion and their children.
Philosophers say that there are many religions. You may have had a course in college that studied world religions. The late philosopher and professor, Dr. Joseph Campbell said that all religions were simply reaching for the truth. He said that, no religion could make the claim that it was the true one. Joseph Campbell taught, wrote, and was an alumnus of Columbia University. You may remember the interviews conducted by Bill Moyers with Professor Campbell. They are still periodically aired on Public Television and are available in book form, “The Power of Myth.”
Joseph Campbell has been considered to be one of the greatest minds of the 20th Century. In the TV interview, Dr. Campbell said that the purpose of life was to “follow your bliss.”
All men can choose to believe anything. In this case, it is a sad commentary on our culture that such an elite University would subject her students to such an erroneous, shallow and illogical teaching. Bill Moyers probed Dr. Campbell on this purpose of life. Moyers questioned the validity of calling Adolph Hitler an evil man.
According to Campbell’s philosophy it could be said that Hitler was simply “following his bliss.”
There is a test that serves to guide us on recognizing that which is true. The test is general and is stated, “That which is true is true for all or for no one.” One doesn’t need to be a Christian to apply this logic to Campbell’s hedonistic philosophy. His statement is destroyed because one person’s bliss may result in another’s terror. Evil is not relative.
Returning to “True Religion”, I propose that true religion can only be described by a right understanding of who God is and who we are. True religion begins with God’s revealed truth of His character. First and foremost, He is the one who spoke and all creation came into being. He is the eternal being. He has provided the only means by which men might be reconciled to Him. We know Him in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God.
As we look at our religious practice. We must ask ourselves some fundamental questions. Is our religion centered on God? That is, do we worship God as He has commanded man to worship Him? Being centered on God demands us to think about our hopelessness apart from Him. God has revealed that all men are born spiritually dead. God must raise an individual from death to life so that he is able to see the truth. God has said that the only means of reconciliation of the world is in Christ alone.
The most evident expression of true religion is worship. As you gather to worship with God’s people are you gathering for fellowship or to declare your praises to God, to hear from Him and to confess your trust in Him? True religion is not about community or relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ. True religion is about worshiping God as He has revealed Himself.
Lou Tiscione is pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA).