The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Religion—Good or Bad?


In our modern world of Christendom, “religion” is often perceived as a bad thing. We see sayings on cars such, “I’m not religious; I just love Jesus.”
There are various definitions of the word given in dictionaries, but the most prevalent ones are something like “devotion to God,” and I presume every true Christian is devoted to God. If not, he can hardly call himself a Christian.

I read the article that was referenced in the “Biblical divine sex” thread to the Martin Zander website (was it written by Jeff Pridy?). I noticed the author denigrated religion and stated that the Greek word for “religion” is “deisidamonia” and that this means “dread demonism.”

Actually, “δεισιδαιμνονια” (deisidamonia) appears only once in the New Testament:

When they had been there many days, Festus laid Paul’s case before the king, saying: “There is a certain man left a prisoner by Felix, about whom the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, when I was in Jerusalem, asking for a judgment against him. To them I answered, ‘It is not the custom of the Romans to deliver any man to destruction before the accused meets the accusers face to face, and has opportunity to answer for himself concerning the charge against him.’ Therefore when they had come together, without any delay, the next day I sat on the judgment seat and commanded the man to be brought in. When the accusers stood up, they brought no accusation against him of such things as I supposed, but had some questions against him about their own religion (δεισιδαιμνονια) and about a certain Jesus, who had died, whom Paul affirmed to be alive.” (Acts 25:14-19)

The Greek word “δαιμονιον”(daimonion) usually translated (or rather, transliterated) as “demon” usually referred to a god or goddess. So perhaps “fear of the gods” would be a better rendering of “δεισιδαιμνονια”. The word is NEVER used in the New Testament with reference to the Christian religion.

There is a different word, translated as “religion” when describing Christian practice. The word is “θρησκεια” (thrāskeia). It occurs in four verses in the New Testament. In the first instance, it refers to the religion of Judaism. In the second, it is translated as “worship” in the NKJV—the worship of angels. But in the third, James pronounces a person’s religion is useless unless he bridles his tongue. He also uses the adjectival form of the same word, namely “religious”. And in the fourth, good religion is defined.

*Acts 26:5 "They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee.

Colossians 2:18 Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.

James 1:26 If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless.

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.*

Any other thoughts on the word “religion”?


My belief is that it is just words when most people say “I am not religious, I just believe in Jesus” because 99% of the time, the people saying this to me are Evangelicals who followed Church Tradition and appeal to Church Tradition and their Pastor. They claim Jesus the their core teacher, until your Jesus told you something else, to which they respond “That is wrong, because My pastor or the Westminster Confession of Faith article X says…” and so the claim means absolutely nothing to me.

Now, that was my cynical view. I have also told people that same line, but I clarify by adding further and I go against much church tradition and doctrine. I let Christ have the last word, or at least, what I believe he revealed to me as the last word on a certain subject.

But I must admit, though somewhat off topic, I have a hard time with this concept, because Christ is not audible. That ‘still small voice’ I am skeptical that it isn’t my own over active brain and so I am pretty reserved in both “What God has told me” and “What God has told you” I doubt in both cases. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t. I can see why people appeal to the authority of the scriptures. IT seems a ‘safer’ place to be, because you don’t have to really ponder and make the tough decisions. You just do the what the Bible says and if you end up wrong, you can always blame God that the Bible led you astray, thus projecting the blame on him when you meet him. Those who reject, or at least, don’t accept completely that the Bible is the WOG, well… We won’t be able to have that scapegoat, unfortunately, though we may have others.


In our modern world of Christendom, “religion” is often perceived as a bad thing. We see sayings on cars such, “I’m not religious; I just love Jesus.”

I think in our culture it has come to mean being ritualistic.