Monday, September 17, 2007

Blog Church: No Religious People Allowed

In a few recent posts or comments from my blogging friend Bilbo, I’ve noticed something that I’m not sure that I like. I should say that I’m not offended in the least because I’m sure that no offense was intended—and it’s not the first time that someone has said a similar thing. The thing that was said was a reference to being a religious person.

I am not particularly fond of religious people. For the most part, I find them to be a bunch of self-righteous, self-serving, arrogant, holier than thou hypocrites.

One atheist friend once started to ask me a question by saying, “You’re a religious person...” I quickly interrupted him with an, “I am not!”

I know that when people say, “You’re a religious person,” they generally mean to say that you have a strong belief in God, heaven and hell, and a set of rules for salvation, redemption, or whatever it is that your religion believes in. I can accept that—but I still hope that I don’t come across as being religious.

I don’t even like calling myself a Christian. If being a Christian is to be Christ like, then I am pretty sure that I am way off of the mark. The Bible says that believers were first called Christians at Antioch. Those that believed in Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah) simply called themselves disciples of Jesus or followers of the Way. As disciples, they studied what Jesus taught. As followers, they tried to live according to His commands. They didn’t go around proclaiming, “I AM LIKE THE CHRIST! Yes just call me Jesus Jr. or better yet—how about Christian? Yes, I like that. Call me a Christian!”

How arrogant is that!?

I think that the main problem with the church today is that the people are...well—too churchy. They have become religious. They are today what the scribes and Pharisees were in Jesus’ day. They are more interested in tradition and rules and showing others how they are not following the church rules than in telling them that God really exists and really loves them.

I’ve been considering starting a kind of blog church. Not a church blog, there are already hundreds of those. A blog church. A place to study what Jesus taught (teaches if you’re of a more religious bent). You can come and read, ask questions and participate or (like in a real church) you can be invisible, reading, studying, taking and hopefully growing a bit as a person. Maybe growing as a Christian, becoming more like the Christ.

The posts (sermons if you like) would be largely from what Jesus teaches in the Bible. After all, I am a disciple of Jesus. What would you expect? Besides, believer or not, you’ve got to admit, He teaches some pretty good stuff! As a church, we would be limited in how we can see to each others needs (ministry). Community (fellowship) would also be limited by what we can accomplish on the web. The primary function would have to be teaching (discipleship). That might actually work as a way to make evangelism Good News! And we would refrain from being religious. The primary purpose would still be to point people towards God (worship).

So, what do you think?
I would really like for any readers to weigh in on this one. Do you think it is a worthwhile endeavor or not? Would you want it to be on this page or on a separate blog? If this blog changed to a blog church, would you quit reading it? Or do you think that this blog is already teaching the occasional lesson without being too religious? I look forward to your input.


“They will know that you are my disciples by the way you love one another.”
Jesus of Nazareth


Serina Hope said...

I think this is a pretty good idea. I think that you already have this blog well on the way to being what you are envisioning. Great idea and well put.

Bilbo said...

I have to admit I hadn't thought of the interpretation of "religious person" you seemed to take, and I would assure you that no offense was intended. To me, a "religious person" is one who tries to live their life in accord with the precepts of a specific religion (Christian, Catholic, Baptist, Lutheran, Muslim, etc, etc). To the extent that such a life is governed by the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule, and the admonition to "love one another as I have loved you," "religious people" are fine and respectable. My problem, as you and other readers of my blog know, is with those who cherry-pick their religious beliefs to justify a violent and intolerant view of life. Mother Teresa, for all her doubts, was a religious person in the best of ways. Ayman al Zawahiri is a religious person in the very worst of ways. I consider myself to be more spiritual than religious, in that I believe in the concept of God without believing in a particular defined system of faith. If there is an eternal life, I think it is earned by the life we live here, and the good works we do for our fellows. I would rather be remembered as a good and loving person than as the guy who showed up regularly for church on Sunday, but whose actions didn't match the professed faith. I don't think a new "blog church" is needed as much as is someone who can present the lessons of a good life well led. But that's just me, and you're off to a good start in any case. Best wishes, Bilbo.

Amanda said...

John, this is an interesting concept. I go to church and usually pick the ones with less rituals and man made 'fan fare'. I do enjoy that weekly communion with God but I think I too wouldn't like to be referred to as 'religious'.

I probably wouldn't go to a separate blog for your blog church but would definitely read the the occasional sermon on this blog if it wasn't too long. I'm consistent...I don't go to any churches where the sermon is longer than 10 mins either.