One of These Things is Not Like the Other

I’ve been listening to U2’s most recent album a lot lately – a redux of their backlog, performed in singer-songwriter style with slight revisions to the lyrics. It is seriously good, and I highly recommend it. The songs took on fresh insights while also offering greater clarity – a little like an old friend becoming a better, stronger friend. It reminds me somewhat of the Counting Crows’ Across a Wire, which is also amazing – but the songs of Adam Duritz, as good as they may be, simply don’t rise to the level of Bono and The Edge. I think it’s about whom they serve.

Which took my train-of-thought into Douglas Wilson’s, who had already switched his onto Andrew Breitbart’s.  He said, "Politics is downstream of culture, while worship is upstream of culture."

As much as I appreciate Songs of Surrender, I take umbrage with this phrase added into Sunday Bloody Sunday: “Religion is the enemy of the Holy Spirit guide”. No. No. Unequivocably, No. That statement is one of the lies which is attacking the church today, that being spiritual is better than being Biblical (see Rosaria Butterfield’s fourth book). Even still, I want to jump into that judgment with some grace and understanding.


Poetic phrases, or lyrics to a song, are not fleshed out theology. I get that – they’re not the Psalms which are inspired by God. The context of this particular song is the series of atrocities committed partly in the name of either being Catholic or being Protestant. But that religious claim was just on the surface. There were many different aspects, reasonably boiled down to identity-politics, which fueled the fire of the The Troubles – proving what happens when people worship the wrong things. Whatever they were worshiping in Ireland in the 70's, it was not Christ.

The unsaid charge of that new lyrical addition is the often repeated assertion that religion has killed more people than anything else. Even taking into account the Crusades, that claim is demonstrably false.* What we’re told to think is that religion, all of them mindlessly lumped together as a whole, is the problem. Under the surface of that charge, is that all religions are somehow equivalent. That’s only true if those religions don’t recognize the God who does for us what we can’t do for ourselves.  Those religions are false, and can be identified by death, dismemberment, destruction, lies and the twisting of truth – in short, evil.

Which rather proves Douglas Wilson’s point that what we worship is upstream from culture. Adding a car onto that train, there is a book by Jim Davis and Michael Graham, The Great Dechurching. Have you heard this podcast from the White Horse Inn? It is so good in how it systematically walks through this cultural shift in detail – explaining what we have been feeling since 1997, but definitely since 2001. When we lose touch with the Gospel individually, the impact may be great but it’s only felt within a small circle of people. When we lose touch with the Gospel culturally, however, the impact slams into us all, because we’re all in that cultural stream. Davis and Graham show how the dechurching of America is perhaps the greatest cultural shift since the Reformation, and not in a good way. The course of the river has been altered; the people have shifted to another object of worship.


Primarily, any faith in something other than Jesus Christ is false. All those other religions may appear to be the similar – but it’s only on the surface with Christianity, such as the Golden Rule, where there is overlap. But dig a little deeper and they differ vastly from Christianity – while aligning with themselves, in that they all say that Christianity is false. They do so either explicitly by saying Jesus is not the Christ, like Islam and Judaism do – or they do so implicitly by saying Jesus was one good teacher among many, like Hindu and Buddhism do. Jesus Himself said He was God (Mark 14:62, John 14:6-11, Matthew 26:63-64). Jesus Himself is the One who took our sins upon Himself (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus Himself has victory over death (1 Corinthians 15:53-57).

Secondly, there is false religion in the name of Jesus. This one is tricky because it makes the casual observer confused. Jesus spoke about this, as did Paul (Matthew 24:3-4, 2 Corinthians 11:12-15). In fact, it’s fair to say that the whole of the Bible is either teaching against the twisting of Scripture, or warning about it. Getting the Gospel right is a matter of life and death because good people get things wrong sometimes, while lazy people take things out of context routinely – but there are also bad people who have evil intentions as a matter of course (2 Timothy 3:1-9). Satan knows the Bible well, and is a master at twisting God’s Word. The serpent did so to Eve in Genesis 3:1 and was successful, but he also tried to do the same to Jesus in Luke 4:1-13, and was not. There are lots of ‘christian’ churches, whole denominations even, who sound convincing, but who are instead promoting the self (John 8:42-47). Beware of them.**

The third false religion is secularism, or 'the self'.  I lump secularism in with other terms like ‘atheism’, and ‘identity-politics’, among others. There is also a point where politics in general becomes a religion,  referred to as, ‘statism’.  Primarily this religion does one, if not two, things:

1- Acting like God doesn’t exist, which isn’t honest. Every scientist, no matter their political or religious stripe, used to tell you they were discovering aspects of the universe; not becoming its creator. Nowadays they say it’s, “gender assigned at birth,” when it was, “gender recognized at birth”.

2- Acting like you are God, which is observably false. If you were a god unto yourself, you’d have to acknowledge how every other person is also. I shall quote the bad guy from The Incredibles,“If every one is Super, then no one will be.”)

A person following this religion works out their ‘salvation’ using the sacraments of death, dismemberment, destruction, lies, and the twisting of truth.  Since the dechurching of America, death has increased (abortion, assisted suicide), dismemberment is trying to mainstream (trans ideology), destruction has become background noise (domestic violence, gang wars), lies have become “your truth” (abusive ‘christianity’, progressive ‘christianity’), and there are celebrations as the actual truth is twisted (gay culture, BLM).


James, the brother of Jesus, tells us that true religion cares for the widows and the orphans (James 1:27). Jesus Himself tells us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength, and that the second is like it: to love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:28-31) ASIDE. He instituted the sacraments of baptism (Ephesians 4:5), which joins us with Him, as well as the Lord’s Supper,which reminds us that He is returning (Luke 22:18-20). Scripture gives us clear instruction to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:25). And the Great Commission instills in us the desire to share this Good News with others and to bring them up into maturity in the faith (Matthew 28:18-20).

Jesus was the One who was with God in the beginning and He was identified as the One who would crush the head of Satan in the end (Genesis 3:15). Why? Because all gods other than the God of the universe, all gods other than the One who created and saved us, all these false gods are on His leash (Romans 16:20). He is the way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Every week when we come to the church building, as the Church, as the Bride of Christ, we become more like Him (John 14:15). True religion is where the words of life are. Where else should we be (John 6:67-69)? Come join us.


I hate the misrepresentation that the Bible says that we should love ourselves. No. Nowhere in Scripture does it say that we are to love ourselves, explicitly or implicitly. The verse that is taken so very wrongly to justify this perception, Mark 12:31, simply recognizes that we already love ourselves. The point of this commandment (it’s not a suggestion), is that we are to love other people that much.


For those people who say they hate themselves: 1- You’re not that important (Galatians 6:3). 2- Do you really? Lean into that thought and see if it might be that you hate other people for them not approving of some of your behavior. Or maybe you are ashamed over something you’ve done. Or perhaps there is shame stemming from something that was done to you, over which you had no control. It’s possible that you hate yourself, but it might very well be there was a depression that worked itself out with lies you told yourself so often that you are now convinced. Have a willingness to explore your self-perceptions, and perhaps it might bring some clarity. With proper insight, there is a way forward in the Truth of Christ.


For those who actually are self-loathing, I would ask that you consider your pride; which is loving yourself more than you love God. Pride is our natural inclination toward ourselves, and as authentic as it may feel (it is authentic in that it is our indwelling sin), it goes against what God has done for you.  If anything is evidence as to how much God loves you, it is that He traded places with you on the cross.  Learning to accept His love is humility, not pride.

We aren’t supposed to love ourselves more – we are instead to love others as radically as we already love ourselves, and true religion shows us how. It is other-focused – first God (don’t forget that), and then other people. We aren’t even identified in Jesus’ instructions. Look again at Matthew 22:36-40.

*In these last hundred years alone, it is the secular state which has killed scores of millions of people, even if only taking into account Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, and Mbonyumutwa. I know that some people throw Hitler into the category of zealous Christian, but that’s patently false – he understood how propaganda works; that emotions can outweigh clear thinking and good intentions.

Since Christianity became accessible to the general population with the Reformation, Christians could hold off a lot of evil done in the name of Jesus. Heresies have victims, and atrocities in the name of Jesus have unequivocally continued. Modern history is replete with abuses in the name of the One, True God. The Spanish Inquisition had the support of the Pope, the KKK had the support of many southern churches, and the LRA claimed the authority of the God of the Bible. A lot of profoundly evil men have done Satan’s bidding in the name of God. I don’t diminish their atrocities. They, and many others like them, will meet the God they claimed to represent and receive His judgment. God cares deeply about the poor and oppressed people who bear His image (Galatians 2:10, James 2:5-7).

**When you read Scripture – please read it – try to have your only agenda be that God would speak to you. Satan won against Eve, who didn’t show knowledge of God’s Word. But he did not win against Jesus, who not only is the Word (John 1:1-5), but He also used it.