“In the fourth century Augustine advocated using the Latin word religio by highlighting its etymology re-ligare, which means ‘to join together’ or ‘to bind together’ as in a covenant bond between man and God. The word religion, rightly understood, joins together everything we believe as we live it out in all of life. Furthermore, if we consider the lexical definitions of the word religion, we observe that religion describes not only a person’s system of belief but also what a person practices, observes, and devotes himself to. As Herman Bavinck writes, ‘Religion must not just be something in one’s life, but everything. Jesus demands that we love God with all our heart, all our soul, and all our strength’.”

– Burk Parsons, Why Do We Have Creeds? (Basics of the Faith Series: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2012), 10-11.

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5 thoughts on “Real Religion”

  1. Gabe says:

    I find this intriguing for a number of reasons. This is reflected, for me, in something that would seem rather different: bujutsu or budo. In a sense, bujutsu is any ‘martial art’ but at the same time, it can refer to any way that life is lived. It is quite literally, the technique of war. But I like this definition of religion as being the way in which one lives.

    It also defeats a lot of the “religious” as a pejorative arguments. If religion is how you live your life, then it has nothing to do with singing a hymn with an organ accompaniment.

  2. Dear Jarod:
    At DesiringGod.org in “The subtle art of sabotaging a pastor” the brief bio description of you says, “He devotes his life to thwarting the designs of the devil”
    so I just wanted to remind you that’s OK if its penultimate but a danger if its ultimate. I often say to people that if we REact to evil instead of ACTing according to God & His Word then evil has become our guide, witting or not. This is what has happened with the GOP & Romney where fools calling themselves “christian” are pretending that it’s OK to pick a Mormon for President so long as he defeats Obama, purely pragmatism contrary to the gospel and utterly blind to Mitt’s evil life and that of his cult religion that from the beginning says Jesus & Satan are brothers.
    May God bless you with the discernment that ACTing according to His Word always eclipses REacting to evil, no matter how many of today’s historically and especially Biblically illiterate voters pretend otherwise (why I could no be a “conservative” than a “liberal,” both of which are meaningless). God save us!

  3. Jared C. Wilson says:

    Russell: What?

  4. George says:

    I appreicate your willingness to salvage the word “religion” according to its roots. I understand the message of the Religion=Legalism concept that is so popular with Evangeicals today, and agree…Therapeutic Deistic Moralism and self-righteous attitudes are so prevalent and so wrong. And many associate that with “religion.” False Religion, really.

    While false religion is certainly real and even ubiquitous, could it be that speaking of true religion (the Gospel) as the alternative can actually be helpful, too? For the less Churched person who thinks in categories like “religious” and “irreligious,” it allows us to talk to them without necessarily being ashamed of the word, but instead redeeming it.

    Just thinking…

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Jared C. Wilson

Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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