I Don’t Believe In Organized Religion


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The American culture is full of idioms- pithy sayings that are supposed to reflect some sort of philosophy or worldview. Often we hear people say these things in response to conversation topics or plastered to the back of their car on bumper stickers. While some of these sayings may have a rhythmic sound or rhyming words, some are couplets, some appear at first to interject what appears to be open-minded philosophy, and some are just simple statements regarding some political stance. Most of these sayings, however, are ridiculous and when examined for their intellectual fortitude, they are often found wanting. One particular saying spreads like wildfire in the culture but dies the same death as all the others once examined. You may have heard someone said it before:

“I don’t believe in organized religion”

What this statement typically intends to communicate is someone’s belief in the spiritual but dislike for the traditional gathering of like-minded peoples in a systematic fashion. Images of Catholic mass fill the mind, with its sitting and standing and incantations in Latin. Or the Mormon service of shirts and ties and speakers void of doctrine but centered on subjective experience. Even the mega-church image with its stadiums of people with outstretched hands, laser lights shows, and would-be rock bands fit into this category for some people. Those who make this statement are trying to convince their audience that it’s not the God-based belief system or the moral nature of religious teaching, but the organized way in which people gather together to share what is common to them. (Granted, all three of the aforementioned church systems worship a very different god but we will get to that later) Where this statement or mindset fails is in it’s inconsistency with the lives of people. As we shall see, it’s not the organized fashion of the worship service, it’s the worship period. What I mean is, people don’t have a problem with organization, what people have a problem with is elevating and honoring a perfect Creator. For in this brand of worship, the person must admit their own depravity, imperfection, and inadequacies in contradiction to a culture that worships people, sexuality, and materialism. The religious nature is not the problem- it’s the nature of the religion. People have no problem worshiping themselves or their things- after all, the term worship comes from the root of where we get our word “worthy” and refers to “that which is worthy of our time and attention.” We spend all sorts of “organized” time on our bodies, our make-up, our sports teams, and our stuff, but when it comes time to honor the Creator of the universe, all of a sudden we have a problem with organization. Here are some things to consider when someone who offers this non-sensical, bumper sticker mentality in conversation or online.

Is that to say that you have a preference for dis-organized religion?

So you must also reject grocery stores, government, law & order, education, families, money and economics, right? What I mean is, culture and society are by their very nature- organized. Even animals- birds, bears, and bees- organize themselves into families, flocks, and flower-finders in order to more effectively navigate a world of trouble in the constant threat of survival. Take education for example, most of us our thrilled to live in a country where from a young age we can be taught the knowledge of the world (we will not be going into the education agenda in this blog- sorry). We sit in classrooms with organized rows of chairs, in rooms organized with whiteboards and computer screens, we follow organized schedules, until we graduate with a sense of how to organize our futures. Granted, education is not perfect- it’s made by man. While we can make changes and improvements no one advocates abolishment. No one says I don’t “believe” in organized education. 

What about economics? Do you also not believe in an “organized economy?” After all, our money system is finely tuned in a global system of equivalents, exchange rates, paper and coin, precious metals, investments, income, taxes, profit and loss. Yet we would not want to give up our money would we? Granted, our economic system is not perfect- it’s made by man. While we can suggest different systems of capitalism, socialism, and even communism, no one is honestly suggesting anarchy and chaos. No ones says I don’t believe in an organized society.

So it’s not the organized nature of religion, it’s the nature of the religion itself.

So you must be a huge fan of Jesus, right? See, Around 2,000 years ago, a man names Jesus claimed to be the authentic son of the Creator God and he spend most of his time rebuking the religious leaders of his time. In those days, the “organized” religion of the area was a form of Judaism that heavily emphasized a legalistic philosophy. Contrary to what most people “know” about religion, the pure form of the faith was buried by men called Pharisees who preferred that people follow their own rules and laws rather than live by the philosophy that God gave them. They forced people to live a certain way and Jesus came to “clarify” the teachings of the Torah. He came to “set the captives free” from the bondage placed upon them by religious men. On one occasion, Jesus- a poor carpenter- stood up to these powerful and rich men and in public called them hypocrites because they required the people to live by rules that they themselves would not adhere to (Matt 23:13). Sound familiar? On the contrary,  Jesus taught that salvation (or heaven, if you will) is granted only to those who placed their trust in him and rejected the teachings of men (including popes and prophets).  He taught that those who trusted in him and what he taught would willingly obey the precept to love God and they to love their fellow man.

This made the Pharisees mad because it undermined their powerful positions. They came to hate Jesus so intensely because of his teaching against religion that they organized themselves to kill him. They not only sought his death, they sought to have him crucified on the cross- a death so gruesome and so torturous that even the most notorious Roman was, by virtue of his Roman citizenship, excused from it’s punishment. It was a death so painful that the cross (or its root, “cruc”) became the word by which we define a pain that leads to unconsciousness- the word excruciating. 

Sadly, churches today still have their pharisees. They still have their religious leaders who plague their attendees with rules and traditions outside of what Jesus taught. Some churches still require Papal authority, Cardinals, Gurus, Prophets, Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Sages and sadly none of these men have the authority to act on Gods behalf. They exist in every church and in every country. Every body of believers will have their men who are either too conservative, too liberal, to rigid, too loose, too loud, too quiet, and so forth. There will always be people who don’t think you measure up to their flawed definition of what a believer should be.  The issue then is not “organized religion.” It’s about discovering who God is and coming to a personal relationship with him through the person of Jesus. See, God is too big and too perfect for us to relate to. God is like a burning flame and we are a dried up leaf. In coming to know him we would burn up. Jesus came to act as our mediator, to liberate us from the false teachings of men who desire power over the people. Jesus was the ultimate rebel and we can come to know him just like we come to know an author of a book we’ve read. We’ve never met the author but we feel like we’ve come to know them. We do the same with actors, with oppressed peoples from tv commercials and local activism, with politicians, and the like.

The church is not a building, its a body of people who have come to worship Jesus instead of their cars, their sports teams, their girlfriends, or the latest scientific journal, or out-spoken cosmologist. The questions then is not whether or not you prefer organized religion, it’s which organized religion are you attending- a church that honors God through Jesus Christ or a church that honors something else- a prophet, a scientist, a model, an activist, a Guru, or some other false god. We all choose to follow someone. Who is it?

I’m reminded of what Joshua wrote in 24:15

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”


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Who is “they”?

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We are constantly bombarded in our culture with terms like “scientific evidence” and “top doctors agree” and”scholars testify” and other such appeals to some unknown authority. From toothpaste, to literary analysis, to archaeology, to batteries, and psycho-pharmacology (aka: anti-depressants) and so on, we are asked to put down our simple minds in exchange for what the experts believe. The questions is, who are these experts?

A quick analysis of the professional and academic landscape will reveal that there are two types of people- those who believe in God and the much larger field of those who don’t. Those who believe in God readily accept the existence of the immaterial world- things like love, hope, beauty, and evil. These things are immaterial- you cannot weigh love or hold beauty in your hand. You can of course hold a flower in your hand but the material aspect is the flower- not the beauty. The beauty is a metaphysical concept that you’ve thrust onto the flower. These attributes are transcendent- love is love here and love is love 1 billion miles away at the farthest star and love 100 years ago is still love. These attributes cannot exist in a reductionist, material world where only nature (or, that which can be measured) exists. Those who believe in God, therefore have access to a world that those who don’t believe in God do not. The kicker is, those who don’t believe in God would be scarce to admit that they don’t believe in love, hope, beauty, and evil and therefore find themselves in a precarious situation- they must either admit to their inconsistent worldview or try to explain away the immaterial as material. In this way, atheists and secular humanists live as if they do believe in God but profess with their mouth that they don’t. This is exactly what the Bible tells us we can expect:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. (emphasis added) Romans 1:18

What Paul is writing here (and in subsequent verses) is that Gods existence is plainly seen in the design of nature and in the existence of the immaterial; things like justice, and love. However, those who hate God suppress this truth in order to accomplish their own goals.

Take the genius Richard Dawkins.  In one breath Richard Dawkins will say:

“It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid or insane (or wicked, but I’d rather not consider that).” (New York Times, 1989)

And in the next breath say something like:

“In a universe of blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.” (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 133)

Here we have the leader of the Western secular humanism movement declaring with one voice that some people are evil (or wicked as he says) and in the next breath saying that there is no such thing as evil. These are direct and total contradictions to each other and since contradictions cannot exist in nature, he is either wrong, blind, ignorant, or all of the above. Furthermore, Dawkins is very dedicated to an agenda. He lives his life supporting causes he finds to be good and decrying causes he finds to be bad. Why would one do this if one believes that good and bad are things that don’t exist?

Here’s the point- secular thinkers must find a natural or material cause behind the ailments of the world. They must find a “gene” for evil or a virus for “justice.” Often, these things are explained away by some magical process that no one has ever seen- a process called Darwinian evolution where things just happen because the alternative- that there is a Creator- is too much to bear. Take another Dick. Richard C. Lewontin wrote in a review of Carl Sagans book:

“We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism…we cannot let a divine foot in the door.” (emphasis added).

Dawkins agreed. In a letter to design theorist Phillip Johnson, Dawkins wrote:

“Our philosophical commitment to naturalism and reductionism is true…”

Here we see that top scientists and humanists agree- they have decided on the answer before they’ve even researched the question and therefore when they begin to research whatever pursuit they may fancy, they will always be closed off to the transcendent and immaterial world while living in it at the same time. Lewontin goes so far as to say that he takes the side of naturalism in spite of it’s failures. Here we see an atheists committed to failure rather than simply consider the Creator. These are our scientists (not all but some and certainly a vocal bunch). They view the world through a lens that eliminates a large portion of reality and prescribe us pills, recommend vaccines, educate our kids, and run our school systems.

This is why we must look at facts and figures skeptically. We must remember that psychiatry (for example) and psychology (another example) are fields that are largely atheistic. The men who have led the way in paving these fields- Freud, Vygotsky, Gardener, Erickson, Dewey- are all atheists. They do not believe in a soul and therefore reduce the problems and ills of man to their limited worldview. If a problem “must” be material, so too must the solution be. While these men are now and have been in the past willing to addict patients to drugs and alcohol (Freud single-handedly can be blamed for the modern cocaine epidemic) because asking them to pray is far to far fetched. The trend continues today as people we know across the country are addicted to pysco-tropic drugs that aren’t curing anything.

We must be more diligent in our approach to culture. We must ask “who” these doctors are who all agree. We must ask “why” do doctors all agree- should they not disagree at some point? We must remember that the ungodly will walk in contradiction and ungodliness in order to pursue an agenda of ungodliness. They will try to eliminate sin with words like “biological” and “chemical imbalance.” After all, if you’re “born that way” you can’t really be responsible can you?  You don’t need Jesus- you need a pill. Trust us- we’re the doctors.

Remember, Christian. A few hundred years ago everyone bought the line sold to them- top scientists agree- the sun revolves around the earth.