As discussed in the LAST TWO POSTS of this series, the “true religion” is the revealed religion, the “preached” religion; it is “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations” and is a religion which “we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom” (Col. 1:26,28). And as we will see, it is in fact the revealing and preaching of Jesus Christ Himself, in both Old and New Testaments, for “there is no salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12) and “no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt. 11:27).
As such, we must next discuss what exactly “revelation” is. For starters, the Greek word we commonly translate “revelation” is apokalýptō, from the roots apó, “away from” and kalýptō, “to cover.” Literally speaking, it means to take away the cover, revealing what is hidden, veiled, or obstructed, especially the inner concealed make-up. In Greek texts it often means to show forth the unseen, immaterial, deep nature of something—what cannot be known by the senses alone.
In our LAST POST we argued that religion is not only not a bad word, but is implanted into the very nature of man, God having revealed Himself in man and all of His creation. The Scripture teaches that this leaves men without excuse before God, but also that fallen mankind is nevertheless unable by natural light alone to truly know and worship God as He truly is. True religion is revealed religions—it is the mystery of Jesus Christ as revealed in both the Old and New Testaments (see Col. 1:24-28; Acts 4:12; Jn. 1:18). All men worship; the only question is whether they worship the creature or the Creator (Rom. 1:19-25).
Here, we will briefly address whether true religion is primarily intellectual, or primarily practical, allowing us to offer a proper definition of “religion” in the Biblical sense, and also justify our claim that the proper object of this series ought to be religion, not doctrine simpliciter.
So, is religion primarily intellectual? Continue reading
As I continue to work through my series on Racial Reconciliation, I’ve decided to keep up with some more basic theological content in the meantime. I hope to get at least one of these up per week.
“Religion” has become a bad word in much of modern evangelicalism. We are told that “religion” disrupts relationship with God, or that “religion” is man’s creation and therefore is somehow man-centered and not God-centered. On the other hand, the Reformed have always contended that religion is itself inescapable; all men are religious, whether they like it or not. That is, religion is universal. It is very much a part of being human, being made in the image of God. Further, I will argue that “pure religion and undefiled before God” (Jas. 1:27) is neither purely intellectual nor purely practical, but brings both together in one life of belief in, worship of, and love toward our Triune God. As such, “religion” is what I propose we study in this series, rather than bare doctrine. “Basic Reformed stuff” needs to be a theology in practice, especially if it’s going to accurately reflect the work of our early Reformed forebears. (I am Three Forms after all.)