In the past three installments, I have submitted discrete deconstructions of tithing, prohibition of women in ministry, and “Jobian Theology.” I have presented my theses both Scripturally and contextually and, while these articles have been seen by literally thousands of readers, I have encountered precious few challenges. Now, far be it from me to say I have all the answers…because I do not. However, there is a growing number of Bible scholars and teachers who are mounting very successful challenges to the traditional status quo and I am blessed to be among that number.
In prior installments, I have taken aim at the fruit – this week, I’m going after the root…
As in the other “Deconstructions,” we must first baseline a premise with a working definition. I found the following from the online etymology dictionary (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=religion&allowed_in_frame=0 , if you want to check):
c.1200, “state of life bound by monastic vows,” also “conduct indicating a belief in a divine power,” from Anglo-French religiun (11c.), Old French religion “piety, devotion; religious community,” and directly from Latin religionem (nominative religio) “respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods; conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation; fear of the gods; divine service, religious observance; a religion, a faith, a mode of worship, cult; sanctity, holiness,” in Late Latin “monastic life” (5c.).
According to Cicero derived from relegere “go through again” (in reading or in thought), from re- “again” (see re-) + legere “read” (see lecture (n.)). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (Servius, Lactantius, Augustine) and the interpretation of many modern writers connects it with religare “to bind fast” (see rely), via notion of “place an obligation on,” or “bond between humans and gods.” In that case, the re- would be intensive. Another possible origin is religiens “careful,” opposite of negligens. In English, meaning “particular system of faith” is recorded from c.1300; sense of “recognition of and allegiance in manner of life (perceived as justly due) to a higher, unseen power or powers” is from 1530s.
Wikipedia adds the following:
There is no precise equivalent of “religion” in Hebrew, and Judaism does not distinguish clearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities. One of its central concepts is “halakha“, sometimes translated as “law””, which guides religious practice and belief and many aspects of daily life.
That said, I postulate the following thesis:
Genesis 1 and 2 can be construed as God’s “Mission Statement,” that is, His original intent for creation can be gleaned from these two chapters. I have gone through these chapters from every angle I can conceive and have concluded the following: there is neither establishment nor endorsement of religion in the creation account, as there is a complete absence of any religious trappings (e.g., altars, temples, rituals, sacrifices). I have applied the same scrutiny to the Gospels as the account of redemption and have similarly found neither establishment nor endorsement of religion here, either. By these two premises, I conclude that it was neither God’s plan in creation nor in redemption to establish any religion. God’s plan in creation was to establish fellowship with His children. And, as this fellowship was broken by sin, it was restored in redemption. Like the definition listed above, the net result of religion is to bind, whereas life in Christ liberates (Luke 4:18-19, 2 Corinthians 3:17).
More to come in my upcoming book, “Deconstructing Religion”
© 2014 – Derrick Day (www.derrickday.com)