The 19th-century Danish theologian Soren Kierkegaard identified two kinds of religion -- Religion A and Religion B. The first is "faith" in name only (2 Tim. 3:5). It's the practice of attending church without genuine faith in the living Lord.
Religion B, on the other hand, is a life-transforming, destiny-changing experience. It's a definite commitment to the crucified and risen Savior, which establishes an ongoing personal relationship between a forgiven sinner and a gracious God.
This difference explains why for many years British author C.S. Lewis had such great difficulty in becoming a Christian. Religion A had blinded him to Religion B. According to his brother Warren, his conversion was "no sudden plunge into a new life, but rather a slow, steady convalescence from a deep-seated spiritual illness - an illness that had its origins in our childhood, in the dry husks of religion offered by the semi-political churchgoing of Ulster, and the similar dull emptiness of compulsory church during our school days."
Our Daily Bread, March 15, 1994.
Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.
Hence we find in non-Christian religions a restless sense of the hostility of the powers of the universe; an undefined feeling of guilt, and all sorts of merit-making techniques designed to get rid of it; a dread of death, and a consuming anxiety to feel that one has conquered it; forms of worship aimed at once to placate, bribe, and control the gods, and to make them keep their distance, except when wanted; an alarming readiness to call moral evil good, and good evil, in the name of religion; an ambivalent attitude of mind which seems both to seek God and to seek to evade him in the same act.
Therefore in our evangelistic dialogue with people of non-Christian religions, our task must be to present the biblical revelation of God in Christ -- not as supplementing them but as explaining their existence, exposing their errors, and judging their inadequacy.
James Packer, Your Father Loves You, Harold Shaw Publishers, 1986.
Several cotton farmers were whiling away a winter afternoon around the potbellied stove. They soon became entangled in a heated discussion on the merits of their respective religions. The eldest of the farmers had been sitting quietly, just listening, when the group turned to him and demanded, "Who's right, old Jim? Which one of these religions is the right one?"
"Well," said Jim thoughtfully, "you know there are three ways to get from here to the cotton gin. You can go right over the big hill. That's shorter but it's a powerful climb. You can go around the east side of the hill. That's not too far, but the road is rougher'n tarnation. Or you can go around the west side of the hill, which is the longest way, but the easiest.
"But you know," he said, looking them squarely in the eye, "when you get there, the gin man don't ask you how you come. He just asks, 'Man, how good is your cotton?'"
Los Angeles Times Syndicate.
People who practice their religious faith regularly may be getting some earthly benefits: They appear to be healthier compared to people who never attend a house of worship. A study conducted by sociologists at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., found that 4 percent of those who regularly went to church or synagogue reported poor health, compared with 9 percent of those who did not attend a house of worship. And 36 percent of weekly worshippers reported they were in excellent health, compared with 26 percent of non-attenders. Why the difference? Researchers aren't sure, but they say the reason may be that people attending weekly services may be more likely to see friends who ask about their health and can recommend a doctor.
Spokesman Review, October, 1992.
Let's accompany the British journalist David Pryce-Jones to Hereford Cathedral. While showing the cathedral to a pair of foreign guests, they stumbled upon a service in progress and were rebuked by the vicar. "Not a single worshipper, apart from the vicar, was present in that great nave," writes Pryce-Jones "Evensong was taking place in a vacuum: nunc dimittis, indeed."
D. Bruce Lockerbie, Thinking and Acting Like a Christian, p. 32.
Some people have just enough religion to make themselves miserable.
Harry Emerson Fosdick.
In the book Gaily the Troubadour, published in 1936, Arthur Guiterman wrote the following poem. Reading his observations, you wouldn't guess it was written nearly fifty years ago.
First denistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless
And carriages were horseless
And may laws, enforceless.
Next, cookery was fireless,
Telegraphy was wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless
And coffee, caffeineless.
Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy hatless,
The proper diet, fatless,
Now motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religions, godless.
Arthur Guiterman, Gaily the Troubadour, 1936.
When in comes to belief in God, Canada's young people are a lot like their elders, but they view religion as relatively unimportant, according to a federally sponsored study conducted by two experienced observers of Canadian social trends. Entitled Canada's Youth: Ready for Today, the study was authored by Alberta sociologist Reginald Bibby and Ontario youth consultant Donald Posterski. The finding showed that 84 percent of the young people surveyed believe in God and 81 percent in the divinity of Jesus. Those figures are almost identical to previous Canadian statistics relating to the overall population. Over 80 percent of those surveyed said they would want a religious funeral or wedding; about 75 percent would involve a minister, priest, or rabbi in a birth-related rite. Only one in ten, however, indicated that God has "a great deal" of influence on how they live. Further, only one in 200 said they look to a religious leader for counsel or assistance.
Christianity Today, February 3, 1989, p. 52-3.