Who Determines “Religion?” What “Religion” Does Jesus Represent?
Installment 3 – Part 1
Deuteronomy 6:13-14 (New American Standard): “13You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him and swear by His name. 14You shall not follow other gods, any of the gods of the people who surround you.” –Moses-
James 1:26-27 (Amplified): “26If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren). 27External religious worship (religion as it is expressed in outward acts) that is pure and unblemished in the sight of God the Father is this: to visit and help and care for the orphans and widows in their affliction and need, and to keep oneself unspotted and uncontaminated from the world.”
Matthew 23:13 (King James): “But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.” –Jesus-
In this installment, Part 1, we will define “religion” from a worldly and a Biblical perspective. What does the Bible say about religion? What does the world say about religion? We will briefly explore some of the major “religions” of the world.
Part 2 will explore the “religion” upon which this country was built. The ultimate goal is to develop a clear understanding of how religion is used to influence people.
In a later installment, we will uncover a worldly religion that has gained prominence over the last 150 years and has vast influence in world governments including the United States. We will discover this religion has intentionally opposed Christianity’s Godly works and moved the country towards chaos and confusion and a separation from its original identity as a unique, special country ordained by God.
Ultimately, we will learn that it is not a matter of IF religion plays a role in governments of the world, but WHICH religion has the most influence on governments and institutions of the world. As we advance in our exploration, it will become clear that we, as Christian citizens, must bring our Christian religion with us everywhere we go, including our government…especially our government!
Many if not most of us DO NOT fully understand the true meaning of the word “religion.” This lack of understanding allows those who desire to use religion against Christians to manipulate us into positions of weakness when we try to defend or advance our Christianity as Jesus commands us to. When we truly understand religion, we will begin to see agendas pushed in government based upon the religion that is most represented in the seats of governmental power.
A FEW RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD
A February 13, 2023 Infoplease article on the web listed the top 12 world religions in order of the greatest number of followers. Use of the word “major” correctly presumes there must also be some number of minor religions as well. It has been said there have been more than 30,000 religions throughout history, indicating we may know much less about what constitutes a religion than we may admit. The post describes the characteristics of these major religions. The list of these 12 major religions follows:
- Christianity (31.1%) Christianity is currently the world’s largest religion. It’s one of the three Abrahamic religions, which trace their lineage to the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, and is practiced by approximately 2.4 billion people worldwide. Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, who lived from 4 BC to between 30 and 33 AD. The Christian holy book is the Bible. Some non-Christian religions, such as Islam and Judaism, also value the Bible.
- Islam (21.9%) Islam is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion. Approximately 1.9 billion people in the Middle East and around the world practice Islam. The Islamic religion centers on the teachings of Mohammed, who lived from 570 AD to 632 AD. Mohammed’s teachings are collected in the Quran, the Muslim holy book.
- Non-Religious (15.6 %) 1.2 billion people around the world practice no particular religion and consider themselves atheists, agnostic, or unaffiliated.
- Hinduism (15.2 %) Hinduism is the oldest religion still practiced. Around 1.16 billion people around the world practice it. Hinduism is a polytheistic belief system with many gods and goddesses. Reincarnation is a central idea of Hindu philosophy. Hinduism also believes in karma, the idea that people’s actions are rewarded and punished in future lives.
- Buddhism (5.06%) Approximately 506 million people around the world practice Buddhism. Buddhist beliefs are based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha, who lived in the 5th century AD. Buddhism, like Hinduism, originated in India, and believes in the ideas of karma and reincarnation. The goal of Buddhism is to achieve freedom from the cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
- Chinese Traditional Religion (5%) “Chinese Traditional Religion” comprises a wide range of beliefs and practices of the Han Chinese people. It’s practiced by some 394 million people around the world. Individual beliefs and practices can be drawn from Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
- African Traditional Religions (1.2%) There are many traditional African religions, and they are quite diverse. However, many traditional African religions share certain characteristics. Approximately 100 million people practice a traditional African religion. Many traditional African religions are animistic and/or polytheistic. Many traditional African religions transmit knowledge orally rather than through scripture.
- Sikhism (0.3%) Sikhism originated in the Punjab area of the Indian subcontinent, near the end of the 15th century AD. There are around 26 million Sikhs around the world. Sikhism is a monotheistic religion that believes in the equality of all humankind, and the importance of striving for justice and prosperity for all. The Sikh scripture is Guru Granth Sahib.
- Spiritism (0.19%) Spiritism, not to be confused with Spiritualism, believes in the unity of science, philosophy, and religion. Spiritism was founded in France in 1850, by Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail, also known as Allan Kardec. Approximately 15 million people worldwide practice Spiritism.
- Judaism (0.18%) Around the world, some 14 million people practice Judaism. Judaism is a monotheistic Abrahamic religion that originated with the Hebrew people in the Middle East. It’s the ethnic religion practiced by the Jewish people. Judaism dates to the fifth century BC, and is the world’s oldest monotheistic religion. Three important scriptures of Judaism are the Torah (the first five books of the Bible), the Talmud, which is the origin of Rabbinic law, and the Midrash, which is an exegesis (study and commentary) of religious texts.
- Baha’i (0.7%) Five million people around the world practice the Baha’i faith. Baha’i is a relatively new religion that developed in Iran in the 19th century. The two main teachings of Baha’i and the Baha’u’llah are the essential worth of all religions and the equality of all people.
- Jainism (0.5%) 4.2 million people practice Jainism, which dates to the ninth century BC in India. It’s one of the world’s oldest religions. Jainism is a transtheistic religion that believes that the universe always was and always will be, without a creator, governor, judge, or destroyer. The three main principles of Jainism are ahimsa (non-violence), anekantavada (non-absolutism), and aparigraha (asceticism).
It is of interest to note that “Non-Religious” is listed as a religion and it is the third largest category of religion. By virtue of the definition of “religion,” which we will explore later, it is clear the author of the post believes Atheists, Agnostics and “unaffiliated” practice their own religion…despite what they may say or believe. I know several converted “Atheists” who admit their former Atheism was in fact a religion they practiced. Later discussion of the definition of religion will confirm this idea.
If Atheism is a religion, a logical next question you may ask is, “What, then is or is not a religion?” Maybe that’s the place to start. What is “religion?”
“RELIGION:” A WORLDLY TERM
What is the definition of “religion” or “religious?” Webster provides 3 definitions for us to consider. The first one uses the word “religious” in its own definition so I have discarded that one. The 2nd definition defines religion as, “the service and worship of God or the supernatural.” The 3rd definition defines religion as, “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
Interesting. The 2nd definition opens up the idea we can center a religion around supernatural God whom we serve and we worship. Not simply “a god,” but “God” or the supernatural. That sort of God describes the central divine figure in many, many known “religions.” As Christians, we would recognize our Father God, Yahweh, the supernatural Creator, as that center of worship. This definition makes sense.
The 3rd definition is a bit more interesting. This definition doesn’t require religion to center around God at all, nor even a divine-like figure such as Buddha. Its only requirement is that the cause, principle, or system of beliefs be the center of its faith or worship, and that this observance or faith be ardently (vigorously and energetically) held. WHOA. WOW. WHAT?
At this very moment, you may be asking yourself, like most reasonable people will ask themselves once they hear definition #3, “Doesn’t this mean LOTS and LOTS of systems of beliefs and principles, and causes are religions?” “Doesn’t that make “Black Lives Matter” a religion?” “Is the Demcratic Party, the Republican Party a religion?” “How about Marxism, Socialism, Communism, Climate Change??” In fact, the answer to all those similar type questions you’re asking yourself right now is YES, YES, and YES!!! RELIGION IS EVERYWHERE!
This is actually GREAT NEWS for us Christ-followers! Now we can have actual discussions with all those who bully us about being religious BECAUSE, they, also, practice a religion, no matter what they have previously been brainwashed to believe!
There is one religion that is curiously missing from the list, not because it is not a major world religion, but more likely because its followers either do not understand they are part of this religion, or it is intentionally not being classified as a religion to mask its presence. This religion is Humanism. In later installments we will define Humanism and discover Humanism to be the greatest religion that opposes God, and the one religion that has been behind our United States government for quite some time; hidden behind the façade of social progress.
The Bible contains many references as to what “religion” and “religious people” should not be. Our Creator God hated religion. Moses didn’t care for it either. Jesus spent most of His teaching time on earth speaking against the folly of religion. A quick read of the Keynote Scriptures above indicate that Moses, James the Apostle, and Jesus had HUGE problems with “religious” people and their misunderstanding of the word “religion.”
In Deuteronomy 6:13-14 Moses spoke the word of God through the prophetic warning in verse 14 not to follow, “…any of the gods of the people who surround you.” A prophet speaks God’s words, so God, Himself, was warning the people of Israel not to be distracted by the things of the world around them or else they would fall away from Him and be lead to deceit and bondage…which they were! God wants us to understand religion is all around us and false if it’s not from Him.
Are not the many causes, principles, and systems of belief we are bombarded with today similar in distraction to what God spoke through Moses? Sports? Partying? Materialism? Whatever worldly cause you support, set of beliefs you ascribe to…that is religion.
The familiar words of James 1:26-27 essentially call people out who pretend to be religious for the sake of outward appearance, yet who are contaminated by the corruption of evil “religions” of the world. How does one reconcile being a Christian, yet stand for child sacrifice in the name of personal rights (abortion)?
Jesus, in Matthew 23:13 proclaims woe to those who use false religious teachings to corrupt others and prevent them from receiving God’s promises. The word “woe” is a heavy, serious warning from Jesus not to mislead others away from truth of God’s teachings. For if they lead others astray, they not only corrupt those they teach, but they, themselves will suffer God’s wrath in some form. To us as Christ-following Christians this warning is just as real. We dare not lead others astray by not understanding the true Christian religion we profess. It cannot be a blend of the Bible and the world…it must be ALL Bible truth and practice.
These few scriptures, and hundreds more in the Bible, seem to teach us that God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit prefer to own our hearts FIRST. Once our heart surrenders, our outward actions (fruit) point others to our true relationship with God. Man’s “religions” focus on outward appearance and rules…doctrine if you will.
All this is to convey the serious truth that the word “religion” should not be thrown around in a trifling, unimportant manner. Like Jesus and others, we must call out “religion” for what it REALLY is. We cannot allow specific minority groups in government and the rest of society to exert power over the majority via their “preferred religion.” We need to understand how the word “religion” and the practice of it by those in power dominates everything we experience. Religion, by its very definition, exists in many forms and places all around us and this truth must be exposed so we can shepherd God’s “religion” into the right places.
“RELIGION” IS OF THE WORLD
A common understanding of the true meaning of the word “religion” puts us on the offense instead of defense. When we reach this common understanding, we will all plainly see that the word “religion” has been used and changed over time selectively and conveniently to divide people groups for some desired agenda; usually politically, socially or economically. This has happened throughout history and is nothing new. The word religion is a man-made, man-perpetuated, divisive term.
The Infoplease list does not include every faction or denomination of each of the major religions. Being a Christian-founded nation, we here in the USA recognize the variety of traditional and non-traditional, denominational and non-denominational, Catholic and Protestant choices. Because our religion is not typically practiced as part of our everyday societal or cultural life (like Islam, Hinduisn, Judiasm, for example), we tend to compartmentalize our Christianity. We separate it and relegate it to Sunday worship. Before and, for some time after America was formed, we used to carry our Christianity with us everywhere. Unfortunately that has been bullied out of us by political forces dominated by and directed by other religious agendas prevalent in seats of power in government and all other institutions in this country. Those in power make the rules. Those religions opposing Christianity (Humanism, Unitarianism, Atheism, Arts & Entertainment, etc.) would like to keep us ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus.
Clearly the word “religion” has been developed and exploited by Satan to divide and confuse men. It falls upon us individually to understand these religious forces and the vast differences between those religions and our relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. NO OTHER RELIGION EVER CONCEIVED IN THE HISTORY OF EARTH OFFERS RELATIONSHIP WITH ITS GOD…ONLY CHRISTIANITY! Defining our personal religion requires self-examination.
“RELATIONSHIP” IS FROM THE BIBLE – MUCH MORE SIMPLE!
Consider this. Jesus was not a Christian. True statement. Not heresy. The term “Christian” came about first in Acts 11:26, some 45 years after Christ died. Jesus could not have been a Christian, nor would He have ever labeled Himself as one. It is not certain whether followers of Jesus named themselves “Christians” or if it was a derogatory term given by pagans and other non-followers of Christ. Common belief is in the latter, but it matters not. A more familiar term, followers of Jesus used to describe themselves, the word “saints,” appears numerous times throughout the Old and New Testament.
Several years ago, the Holy Spirit urged me to begin to refer to believers as “Christ-Followers,” or “saints.” There was a similar movement occurring worldwide. Using these types of terms emphasizes a relationship with The Trinity, and disarms the negativity of the term “Christian” as it refers to a religion. If people want to call me a Christian, fine. But they typically don’t want to speak on terms of the religion to which they ascribe. That doesn’t seem like an even playing field to me. Why should they beat me over the head with Christianity when I don’t get to beat them over the head with their religion? I normally turn the conversation back at them and call them by their label of religion such as, “Humanist,” “Witch,” “Socialist,” “pagan” etc. This typically leads the other person to a discovery through conversation of what a religion really is. Most people can’t (or end up being embarrassed by trying to) describe what they stand for if you help them label it as a religion. Watch people squirm when they try defending religions such as Paganism, Satanism, Environmentalism, gambling, etc. There is no moral truth or standing. It’s fun to watch people squirm. Sometimes they take their marbles and leave!
Have you ever observed the fact that lies are very complicated and confusing, yet TRUTH IS VERY SIMPLE? Religion is complicated. There is no simple definition. Apparently, almost any system of behavior earnestly applied can be called “religion.” This is exactly why Jesus hated religion and why we, as saints, must begin to approach our beliefs (and actions) as a RELATIONSHIP instead.
Relationship is very simple to understand. All of us experience relationships every single day of our lives. It is the mechanism by which we navigate life. Everything we do requires relationships. We were created by God for relationship (and to tend His Garden!).
Let’s look at God the Father and God the Son, this Jesus of the Bible. Both modeled relationship with people. God called, equipped, and sent out people to do His work. How did He do that? He got to know them. Better than that, He allowed them to know Him. They discovered His nature; both the Father and faithful friend, as well as the wrathful disciplinarian when they deserved His ire.
Likewise, Jesus modeled a life of relationship with those He called, equipped, and sent out to do the Father’s work. He also modeled truth in love but was quick to call out false teachers, hypocrites, false gods, and false religions. The truth in love Jesus modeled was an absolute moral and spiritual truth. This was truth given by God the Father. This is not the same “truth” and “love” that accepts all behaviors with no accountability or responsibility of today (practiced by the Universalist Unitarian Fellowship “Church”, for example – a sect of the Humanist religion). This type of truth is ever-changing and, hence, very confusing. How confused do we imagine a 12-year old boy who gets a sex change operation be when he turns 25 years old and sees all his fellow males marrying females and having families?
As human beings, we have an innate understanding of truth within us. Since we were created in the “likeness,” or “image” of God (Genesis 1:27), we know He has deposited some remnant or imprint of truth within us. We all know killing is wrong, stealing is wrong, adultery is wrong, etc. We don’t really need to be told that. Yet we tend toward sin if left to our emotional drive.
God made it very simple. He promised prosperity if we agreed to abide in continuous fellowship with Him. Jesus modeled continual fellowship by living everyday life with His disciples and teaching the standard of God’s ABSOLUTE TRUTH. They witnessed and experienced this relationship first-hand. They then wrote all these ABSOLUTE TRUTHS down into what we now have as our Christian Bible.
Simple. Not religion. Relationship. The more you know God through Holy Spirit revelation of Jesus, the deeper your relationship and the further from false religion…any religion, for that matter, you travel.
Now that religion has been exposed for what it truly is…a religion, and we understand Jesus desires something other than religion, what do we do with this truth?
People are inherently lazy. They do not like to seek and find truth. It makes them uncomfortable. Truth often makes people squirm. People generally resist truth. It is much less emotionally disturbing to follow the crowd than to be “red pilled,” and understand truth. Knowing truth demands a response and action. Action is difficult for most people. Action requires conviction. Jesus requires conviction from His people…those calling themselves “Christians.”
Jesus, in Matthew 4:17 calls lost people to such a decision for response when He says, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” The call to repentance in this context, and what Jesus specifically calls us to do is to make a radical and deliberate turning (non-believers) or returning (wayward believers) to God that results in moral and ethical change and action. This change is more than a simple change of mind or feeling sorry for one’s sins. Jesus calls us to a decision point! What’s more, this decision point occurs thousands of times in each believer’s life…each time a temptation or false god or idol crosses our path. Practice of this repeated decision making molds of us a Jesus-like representation to others as we live out our convictions for Christ’s “religion,” Christianity. It is not Humanism or any of the other estimated 30,000 religions that have been present in one form or another throughout earth’s 7000 year history (What? The earth isn’t millions of years old?)
In chapter 7 of his 1959 book entitled, “The Gospel of the Kingdom,” author George Eldon Ladd develops this idea for our further understanding as he teaches us how to show the model of Christian life to others in this world. Ladd identifies 4 factors that must be evident in our decision for Christ.
First, our decision must be resolute. In Luke 9:57-62, Jesus relates 3 stories that convey the truth that a decision to follow Him must result in us NEVER LOOKING BACK. In other words, we cannot be tempted, and, hence, fall away from our decision to follow Him no matter what the false gods and false religions of this world throw at us. Resolute means we are firmly decided upon following Him which will, very often, require total reliance on Him.
Second, our decision must be “radical.” I use quotations around this word because to those around us, our behavior will manifest in a radical change in our behavior once we determine to resolutely follow Christ. Although this will feel absolutely normal, peaceful, and joyful to us because we are continually abiding in Jesus, to others, we will seem like “religious nuts.” They will whisper words under their breath to their friends like, “cult,” “Jesus freak,” “religious,” and the like, because they don’t understand the joy and freedom in which we live 24/7/365…even when we are sick and dying!
Third, our decision must be “costly.” Famously in Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus reveals the truth that a decision to follow Him will cost us, sometimes dearly: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He goes on to warn that following Him in everyday life will divide families and friends. How true is this about Christianity! Look at our country and our “political community.” God wants clear battle lines between those who are for Him and those against Him. As we have learned, ALL RELIGIONS OPPOSING GOD ARE AGAINST HIM. I do not want to be on the side that opposes God! I understand what His plan is for those on the other side! It isn’t pretty! Choosing to live by God’s standard and preaching Jesus to the world does cost us but we purchase eternal salvation.
Fourth, our decision will have “eternal consequences.” In Luke 12:8-9, Jesus puts it as plain as possible: “8I tell you, whoever acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man will also acknowledge him before the angels. 9But he who disowns me before men will be disowned before the angels of God.” Jesus is, of course, speaking to the day all people will be judged worthy to dwell with Him eternally, or to be eternally condemned. Clearly He is calling us to live out our belief in Him every day in every aspect of our life. Our actions in this life will not only have eternal consequences for us, but also for those who we influence (positively and negatively) while we live our physical lives. Don’t cause Jesus to use the word, “woe” when it comes your turn to stand before Him.
That is “WHAT NOW!” For all who profess to be Christian, there is a call for us to live our religion by the absolute standard of truth in the Bible…not just profess it. When we allow other, false religions to command our lives we surrender our power to expand God’s intended blessing for His creation.
CHECK YOUR TRUTH
The content of this writing comes heavy with truth many have never heard before. Some may be wondering what they have stood for as a “Christian” now they understand what “religion” truly is. All of a sudden, falsehoods of this world begin to appear in front of our eyes where they were once hidden.
Don’t feel alone. I was in the very same place just a few years ago. The good news is THE GOOD NEWS! God is always ready to welcome you or re-welcome you to truth…so He can use you in His fight!
If you feel the need to discuss some of the ideas presented in this installment, please reach out to the pastor of your local church, a Christian friend or relative, or someone else you know to be a “radical” Christian Jesus freak! Don’t languish in isolation.
If you don’t know who you can trust, please reach out to us here at the “God in Government?” tab via email. It will be our pleasure and honor to share common sense with you.
In this installment we explored the true meaning of the word “religion,” and gained a small understanding that “religion” is disguised as many different causes, principles, and systems of belief, including all those “Christian” denominations and non-denominations known to man. We now understand that some of these religions have been used to promote divisive behavior and even to “bully” people of true Christian faith. It doesn’t take much imagination to see where and how false religions such as Antifa, BLM, LGBTQ+, CRT, Climate Change, and nearly every political system have corrupted the truth of the Christian faith. We have been isolated and targeted for extinction throughout history. However, God grows the faith of His believers most when they are persecuted the most!
With this information under our belts, we will next explore the Biblical origins and foundations of our Constitutional Republic called “The United States of America.” We will learn a tiny bit about the character of some of the founders of this country by examining historical writings of the time. Through these writings, we will seek to gain a deeper understanding of the Godly makeup of those who fled oppression in Europe and sought to start a country where people could truly experience the freedom of self-government.
Stay tuned for our next installment: FOUNDERS KEEPERS! – THE RELIGION OF AMERICA!
-Brian Horanoff- [email protected]
Precinct Delegate, Fremont Township, Isabella County, Michigan
Copyright 30 June, 2023