Good Religion, Bad Religion
But of course, worship has another dimension. To worship, to pray, to teach, to build churches, to feed the hungry—all of these are religious acts. We often say that we mustn't confuse being a Christian with being religious, but it's impossible to be a Christian without being religious. God uses religion—especially preaching, worship, the sacraments, prayer—to communicate himself to us.
So we have to "commit religion" in order to be Christians. This is almost, but not quite, like saying that when we commit sin, grace abounds. As we commit religion, grace will abound. Sometimes when we commit religion, we will be trying to justify ourselves—and for that we need forgiveness. Sometimes we will be rightly using the means of grace given by God. In either case, we should agree with the atheists in the hope that someday we will "grow out of it"—or more biblically, that God will abolish it. For someday, we will not need rituals or preaching or sacraments to know and be known by him. Someday (Rev. 21), God will be in our midst.
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For more on the Cognition, Religion, and Theology Project, see the University of Oxford's website.
Go to ChristianBibleStudies.com for a corresponding Bible study on "Good Religion, Bad Religion."
Additional coverage of religious zeal and atheism includes:
How to Become a Successful Religion | A marketing consultant advises early church leaders. (August 19, 2010)
Taming Religion | Why we need to keep The Extremist in check. (May 13, 2010)
Jesus Is Not a Brand | Why it is dangerous to make evangelism another form of marketing. (January 2, 2009)
Puncturing Atheism | Fourfold God Squad brilliantly takes on Dawkins, Hitchens, & Co. (October 31, 2007)
Christianity Today also has more editorials on our site.