Sunday, April 30, 2006

Toxic religion

came across this list elsewhere, and felt it was worth repeating. It lists 8 signs of an unhealthy religiosity (as opposed to warm, God-centred spirituality). Something for us all to think about:
A religious spirit views God as a cold, harsh, distant taskmaster rather than an approachable, loving Father. When we base our relationship with God on our ability to perform spiritual duties, we deny the power of grace. God does not love us because we pray, read our Bibles, attend church or witness, yet millions of Christians think God is mad if they don’t perform these and other duties perfectly.
A religious spirit places emphasis on doing outward things to show others that God accepts him. We deceive ourselves into believing that we can win God’s approval through a religious dress code, certain spiritual disciplines, particular music styles or even doctrinal positions.
A religious spirit develops traditions and formulas to accomplish spiritual goals. We trust in our liturgies, denominational policies or man-made programs to obtain results that only God alone can give.
A religious spirit becomes joyless, cynical and hypercritical. This can turn a home or a church completely sour. Then, whenever genuine joy and love are expressed, this becomes a threat to those who have lost the simplicity of true faith.
A religious spirit becomes prideful and isolated, thinking that his righteousness is special and that he cannot associate with other believers who have different standards.
A religious spirit develops a harsh, judgmental attitude toward sinners, yet those who ingest this poison typically struggle with sinful habits that they cannot admit to anyone else.
A religious spirit rejects progressive revelation and refuses to embrace change. This is why many churches become irrelevant to society. They become so focused on what God did 50 years ago that they become stuck in a time warp—and cannot move forward when the Holy Spirit begins to speak in new ways.
A religious spirit persecutes those who disagree with his self-righteous views and becomes angry whenever the message of grace threatens to undermine his religiosity. An angry religious person will use gossip and slander to assassinate other peoples’ character and may even use violence to prove his point.

It's dangerously easy, isn't it, to point the finger at this spirit in those who have hurt us. But I must always be aware of the other 3 fingers pointing back at me

1 comment:

Suzanne R said...

Very well said. I can think of people who fit this bill or have fit it in the past, including myself, as your last sentence indicates. It's possibly the bane of being human that makes us sometimes adopt these characteristics even when we don't want to or maybe don't realize what we are doing. This is a good reminder of what to avoid.