Though I’m generally a fan of LifeWay and its publications, I’m disappointed to find its new Gospel Project curriculum* indulging in the weary and misguided “religion is bad / Christianity is something other than religion” rhetoric (Ed Stetzer, General Editor, and Trevin Wax, Managing Editor, The Gospel Project: Adult Personal Study Guide, v. 1, no. 1 [Fall 2012], 15). Though the more common false dichotomy is “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship”, the Gospel Project’s “Christianity isn’t religion, it’s the gospel” is about as bad. Religion is a faith put into practice. If one’s faith is that, “I can work my way to salvation through ritual practices and moral discipline,” then one’s religion is indeed false and bad. If one’s faith is that, “Salvation is by grace alone through faith not of myself but received as a gift from God; so, out of gratitude and (yes) duty to my Savior (who, in fact, now owns me, having purchased me at dearest cost), I will endeavor (work)to live a morally disciplined (and, so far as I am able, blameless) life,” one very definitely has religion; in this case, however, the religion is good (“pure…and undefiled”).
Please, Christian writers and speakers, stop treating “religion” as a bad word. Doing so isn’t clever or creative; it’s just annoying.
*No new or used copies for sale on Amazon as of the date of this writing, but give it time.