Religion: a historian’s definition

A few weeks back in a post called “A Little bit of History” I quoted 10 lessons of history as recorded by the late Professor J. Rufus Fears, and today I thought I’d share something else from Professor Fears. This time I thought you might find his historian’s definition of religion interesting, not to mention instructive.  History according to the professor is:

A world view that supplies the individual with a comprehensive set of values to understand the universe and their place in it.

If you stop and consider this definition of religion, you will quickly come to realize that it contains a lot more possibilities than we usually consider for this word.  Most particularly, you’ll notice that it doesn’t mention God; don’t be too quick to discard Professor Fears’ definition because of that.  Instead keep in mind the Biblical concept of idolatry which can result in things being placed into God’s rightful place in the minds of men.

Fears insists that systems created by men are often the equivalent of religion in the affairs of humanity, citing communism as an example of a system that seeks to answer all of the questions of life within its own framework with the result that its adherents will pursue it with religious devotion and zeal.

Now there’s a pretty good chance that if you are reading this blog, you are probably not a communist.  But communism isn’t the only political/economic system that has this feature.

I wonder… how many Christians today view the world with a world view that is not at all Biblical?

Do you remember the “occupy Wall Street” people of a couple of years ago who were going on mindlessly about the evil 1% that are supposedly cheating everybody out of their just due?  Have you ever met someone who is just filled with the notion that their evil boss is always trying to cheat them?  Have you ever heard people who view most everything through the lens of big terrible corporations that are practically making slaves out of the common man?  Have you ever heard politicians talking about “working men” and “working families” as opposed to non-working “white-collar” management?  How about politician’s who always refer to the “rich” who need to pay their “fair share?”

Can you recall reading any of these kinds of things in the Bible?  Hardly!

All of this kind of talk comes from what is called the “Class Struggle Model” of economics that has its origins in the writings of Karl Marx and is carried through the Progressive political philosophy in the United States.  The model is common to communism, western socialism and fascism, and it is pervasive in our political thought today.  It is not a Biblical world view, it is not only entirely secular, but it can even be considered a false religion as the authors of the New Testament would understand the term.

I have no intention here of telling anybody what to think about political matters, but I would hope that Christians, before following the pack and just accepting the popular views that they hear on the news shows and in the union meetings would examine carefully where certain ideas come from so that they may make informed choices that are consistent with their faith. Maybe your boss is a jerk.  In that case, you might want to find another job, but you might also want to hesitate before buying into a non-Biblical view that runs contrary to Christ’s teachings.

Just a thought…

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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2 Responses to Religion: a historian’s definition

  1. nrichmyleads says:

    The adversary is out there promoting false doctrines all the time, God’s Word consistently warns us against it but some people ,I find to my dismay, are so filled with the false doctrines they can be taken to a scripture or fifty of them that say specifically one thing very clearly, but if it cuts across their false doctrine, they do not let what it says affect them in any way. EW Bullinger in the Bible notes and appendices that are ascribed to him but are purposely not identified as his, had a Bible published posthumously in 1920. It has the KJV text but more notes and appendices info than text. It is an excellent study Bible, been out over 90 years yet His scholarly corrections to the text are still not widely known even though much of his work has been duplicated and verified by textual examiners from many different Christian groups. Denomination after denomination, who claim to be Bible based would rather teach and stick with the traditional Christian doctrine and Calendar than change to reflect what the Bible says rather than what tradition absorbed from pagan beliefs so that it was an easier sell to pagans everywhere. The Bible is still available to order in most Bible bookstores it is called “The Companion Bible” Many of the Bible corrections that I point out in my blog are also noted in the notes or appendices of that excellent book. Many pastors (Clergy by what ever name you know them ) may even admit to knowing about them and because they at least read the text know that what they teach and preach are not in line with the text, but they feel constrained to toe the line with tradition rather than truth because if they tried to fight the tradition they would lose their jobs with their denominations. Yes Religion can be defined without God and there are many pagan (Non God based religions) out there to compete within peoples minds for the places people ought to be putting the thoughts of His Word, but to me more alarming is the thought that so many who think they are thinking Biblical are not on sure foundations of scripture. They are taught to read into the Word bad traditions. It is available to know the truth. The truth makes you free. Too many houses of believing fall down because of poor foundations. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, good Friday, Lent, Advent, Palm Sunday at best only resemble events in the Bible. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on two occasions to approving crowds and Palm strewn Hosannas, but neither one on a Sunday, once on one animal once astride two, no the writers did not make a mistake or get the truth wrong. Tradition teaches it wrong. Considering the large volume of text it is amazing how few the corrections are even now needed. But more often than not the mindset that a reader approaches the text with needs more correction than the text does. Why can’t people read what is written and change their beliefs to line up with the text a Song sung by A Russian Jew may sum it up best “Tradition!” (From Fiddler on a Roof). Selah

    • Don Merritt says:

      You’ve raised an age-old question that still troubles the church today. I’ve found that it is possible to bring people to the point that they will willingly separate tradition from Scripture, but it can be a long process…

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