The End of Religion

The End of Religion

end of religionI finally got to a book I’ve been eyeing for a few years now. The Canadian pastor Bruxy Cavey wrote The End of Religion, and it provides a great way to see Jesus, the Church, and spirituality in a fresh way. In case you’ve never heard of him, Bruxy is one of those guys I keep up with on a regular basis as he challenges my thinking and keeps me on my toes. I was beyond excited when he agreed to write an endorsement for my book last September.

If you are of the more conservative variety in your theology (which isn’t super likely if you’re reading my blog), you might not appreciate the boldness in which he writes. For example, one of the lines of the book says, “Whenever the church gets into bed with political powers, the church becomes the state’s whore.” Your reaction to that quote may indicate whether this is a book you’d enjoy reading or not.

Bruxy also has the coolest tattoo I’ve ever seen. Here’s a picture of it:

bruxy tattoo

In case Leviticus 19:28 isn’t one of the ones you memorized, it says “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” That’s a glimpse into the way his brain works and why he’s such a fun guy to read! I highlighted a grip of stuff from his book and was grateful I read it on my Kindle, so I didn’t have to murder a bunch of innocent markers. Below are a few of the sections that stood out the most to me.

On Jesus:

[Jesus is] a rabbi to the Jews, a prophet to the Muslims, an avatar to the Hindus, an enlightened one to Buddhists, the Son of God to Christians, a wise teacher to secularists, and “a friend of sinners” for the rest of us… Unlike any other religious leader, prophet, philosopher, or spiritual guru, Jesus alone is positioned to deliver a message to all people of all religions and no religion.

Instead of teaching his followers how to fight against the Romans, Jesus taught them how to love their enemies.

Therefore, when Jesus would say to people “your sins are forgiven” (see Matthew 9:2; Luke 7:36-50), he was not just being a source of encouragement to hurting people. He was making a decidedly irreligious statement to his culture. He was completely bypassing the religious system of his day and helping people connect with God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness directly.

What Jesus did was tantamount to thumbing his nose at the religious system. He offered people what only God through the temple system could offer people. He put himself in the center of God’s relationship with humanity. He was saying, in effect, “Now God will forgive your sins, not through the temple, but through me,” thereby making religion redundant. Jesus was a one-man, walking, talking, counter-temple movement. He now embodied all that the temple stood for. He was offering through himself what only the religious system of his day was supposed to offer — God’s grace.

So offering forgiveness to sinners directly was, in a way, both a creative and destructive gesture. Creative for the human spirit; destructive for the religious system. At the same moment he was building people up, Jesus was also tearing religion down.

The Christian faith is unique among major world religions in that its founder was executed by established authority.

By saying something as audacious as “I am the way” (John 14:6) to his disciples, Jesus fundamentally challenged all of the how-to systems of the spiritual world. The way is not the Ten Commandments, the Eightfold Path, the Four Noble Truths, the Five Pillars of Action, the Six Articles of Belief, the Seven Sacraments, or any other of the systems of salvation stewarded by the religions of our planet. God himself is the way.

When God opens his mouth to communicate his heart to humanity, a person comes out. His ultimate revelation of truth to humankind does not take the form of argument and assertion, page and print, chapter and verse, but person-hood

On Religion:

Religious people often tend to confuse the treasure map for the treasure.

Picture a thirsty person holding a cup of water. Now picture that person licking the outside of the cup in an attempt to quench his thirst. That is a picture of religion. Religious people tend to focus on the cup and forget about the contents. They argue about which cup is best, but forget to drink from any. Some cups are ornate and some are simple. People are attracted to different kinds, yet none of them will quench your thirst.

Religion does not lead people to God any more than cups quench your thirst.

Because the holy texts of nearly all religions hold the seed of violence, fundamentalists of every stripe tend to become increasingly violent, in their attitudes if not in their actions.

Once the wineskin of a particular structure, tradition, or organization becomes our focus, the benefit of the wine will be missed. No one ever quenched their thirst by chewing on a wineskin.

On healthy Christianity:

We should not carry the burden of trying to live an exceptionally good life in order to be qualified for salvation. Christ-followers are encouraged in the New Testament to live a loving life out of gratitude, not out of fear of losing their spot in heaven. What kind of loving marriage would it be if I treated my wife kindly only out of fear that she would divorce me if I didn’t?The Jesus of the Bible lives by a simple philosophy: If love guides our hearts, rules become redundant. Love, embraced as a guiding orientation of other-centeredness, will always lead us to do the right thing.

The Jesus of the Bible lives by a simple philosophy: If love guides our hearts, rules become redundant. Love, embraced as a guiding orientation of other-centeredness, will always lead us to do the right thing.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to Gavin, Madsen, Adelyn, Aiden, and Abel. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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