Words, today, warp minds and are wielded as lethal weapons in the deconstruction and destruction of everything holy. Orwell writes of “the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.”
Choose your words. Choose your pronouns. Choose your gender. Claim your victim-hood. Blame it on someone. Blame it on history.
Christians seeking to be in-style, aided and abetted the destruction of the word “gay.” The plea of Pastor Gay in Christianity Today (aptly named), decades ago, fell on ears that would not hear. We can hardly read Narnia books to our children without blushing.
Or have we discarded reading for the silver screen?
Any literate Christian familiar with the works of the heroes of the faith from the last two Millennia could not join today’s demolition derby of “religion.” The crowds in the grandstand belittle religion, and with their what-is-a-woman amnesia in control, they crow, “Christianity is not a religion.”
The ‘smart phone’ has replaced Webster: s.v. religion: “1. the service and worship of God.”
For 2,000 years, the faithful saints have defended true religion against false religion. Today, truth lies bleeding along the roadside awaiting a Samaritan. Heaven knows no priest or Levite will pause to bind up its wounds. They have their ‘truth’ and someone else has ‘his truth’ and you have ‘your truth.’ The zeitgeist gives us a world of no truth, of no objective truth. Subjectivism rules.
Who has ever read Augustine’s “On True Religion”? Not today’s souls lost in “the ever present fog of existentialism, casting ghostly shadows over an already confused landscape.” (W. F. Albright)
Had our current crop of Christian celebrities had followed C. S. Lewis’ rules for reading, we would not be floundering in that fog. They would be leading the way out of that confusion and onward into the sunlight. In his Preface to On the Incarnation, Lewis’ rule runs thus: Do not allow yourself another new book until you have read an old one. Follow that pattern. If you do not have the time to read both the new and the old, read the old:
” We all…need…to keep the clean sea breeze of the centuries blowing through our minds, and this can be done only by reading the old books.”
And in the old books of the old faithful, you will hear the constant ring of true religion.
You hear it from the epistle of James (1:27f) to the Early Church Fathers like Augustine, and Basil the Great, who asked, “How could the Seraphim cry “Holy, Holy, Holy,”were they not taught by the Spirit how often true religion requires them to lift their voice in this ascription of glory?”
Gregory of Nazianzus, at his father’s funeral, in the presence of Basil, spoke of being “worthy of the miracles by which God establishes true religion.”
And onward through the centuries, to the days of the Reformation and beyond, Luther, Calvin, Wesley and a host of others extolled “true religion.” But defending what is true requires diligence. Slogans sell much more easily. Today’s easy slogan is “Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship.”
Always missing in heresy is the “holy conjunction…’and’ a la D. Elton Trueblood. (You can read a summary of that in the Introduction, with the ‘look inside’ feature, here*.) This is what today’s sloppy Christians miss.
Pascal, Pensees #556 Men blaspheme what they do not know. The Christian religion consists in two points. It is of equal concern to men to know them, and it is equally dangerous to be ignorant of them….that there is a God whom men can know, and that there is a corruption in their nature which renders them unworthy of Him.
John Calvin “labor[ed] to cherish and to promote true Religion…the truth of the Gospel, pure Religion, and the true Worship of God.”
John Wesley knew “that true religion was seated in the heart.” (He understood ‘heart’ in the Bible. You can, too Link**)
A young woman told him, “she had now found the true religion…she found the peace of God, and has never lost it since.”
Jonathan Edwards, America’s premier “theologian of the heart,” wrote, “It is no sign that affections have the nature of true religion, or that they have not, that they have great effects on the body….who will deny that true religion consists, in a great measure, in vigorous and lively actings of the inclination and will of the soul, or the fervent exercises of the heart?…True religion is evermore a powerful thing; and the power of it appears, in the first place, in its exercises in the heart, its principal and original seat. Hence true religion is called the power of godliness,…”
Charles Spurgeon: “First, then, the true religion of Christ, which consists in a vital faith in his person, his blood, and his righteousness, and which produces obedience to his commands, and a love to God, is not a fiction.
“…if it be true it deserves all a man’s faculties to consider it, and all his powers to obey it.
“…the experience which true religion brings is no fiction.
“It is a great truth that religion is calculated to give man happiness below as well as bliss above.”
Jesus–Luke 18:8, “But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”