A Pretty Good Religion?

In a recent book, An Atheist Defends Religion: Why Humanity Is Better Off With Religion Than Without It, author Bruce Sheiman reminds readers of what many sociologists of religion have proven time and again: that religion helps people live happier and healthier lives by giving them meaning and purpose.

'Religion' benefits society enormously, Sheiman and sociologists note, by establishing food cupboards, hospitals, schools, rescue missions, water wells and what not. As the subtitle says, humanity is better off, on the whole, as a result of religion.

But Christianity Today senior managing editor Mark Galli takes issue with that viewpoint and its consequences.

“Christianity can't help but be a religion. It is composed of human institutions that of necessity use moral and social techniques to make a go of it. There's no getting around that.

“But if people look at us and see only religion, and worse, pat us on the back because humanity is better off because of us—well, that's about the most damning thing they could say.

“.... The gospel isn't primarily about helping individuals to live the life they've always wanted; it tells people to die to their yearning for self-fulfillment. It is not about helping people feel good about themselves, but telling them that they are dying. It's not about improving people, but killing the old self and creating them anew. It's not about helping people make space for spirituality in their busy lives, but about a God who would obliterate all our private space.

"The gospel is not about getting people to cooperate with God in making the world a better place—to give it a fresh coat of paint, to remodel it; instead it announces God's plan to raze the present world order and build something utterly new.

"The gospel is about the Cross, which puts a nail in the coffin of religion as such. And the gospel is about resurrection—not an improvement nor an adjustment, but the breaking in of a completely new life because the old life has been obliterated.”

You’ve got to read the entire article (don't worry, it's short) to get the full gist!