A relationship with Jesus is not a ‘faith tradition’
May 2, 2006
“Faith tradition” is a new phrase that seems to have gained popularity among secular journalists and theological liberals, as a way of describing Christianity when they want to make no distinction between it and religion.
For example, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in a recent story about an interfaith conference, stated: “The conference features screenings of five festival films and discussions with religious leaders, filmmakers and film enthusiasts from various faith traditions.” An Internet search in the newspaper’s archives showed that 35 stories in recent years lumped Christianity with religions by characterizing all as “faith traditions.”
The misplaced notion that Christianity is a mere religion is nothing new. I do not think Missouri Southern Baptists, and other Christians around the state for that matter, find this surprising, but it seems to me that a warning is prudent in light of this latest use of a new phrase they think is palatable to Christians and non-Christians alike. After all, words have consequences.
It is common for a neologism (creation of a new word or phrase) to surface among secular journalists and in liberal theological circles (they are rarely clever enough to be the originator; a distinction usually reserved for philosophers and industry) when they think a new interpretation of sacred matters is in order. In this case it comes straight from post-modern philosophy and the prevailing outlook that truth is relative, thus all faiths are equal. This is why we hear a growing chorus that there are many ways to God, not just through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Whenever Christianity is falsely catalogued as just another “faith tradition,” it is trivialized and misrepresents what Christianity is to a lost and dying world.
The use of the term “faith tradition” by the secular media and liberal theologians is so subtle, yet ubiquitous, that Christians risk being desensitized to such heresy. Christianity is not a religion and it is certainly not a “faith tradition.“ Unlike religions, Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The Random House College Dictionary defines “relationship” as a “connection between persons by blood or marriage.“ Christ’s shed blood on the Cross that cleanses all believers in Him of their unrighteousness qualifies as a “connection between persons by blood.” In addition, because Christ lives, both in Heaven sitting at the right hand of God where He is interceding on our behalf and in our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit, it is a relationship that is on-going. Indeed it is eternal.
Christianity is not a religion and it is certainly not a “faith tradition.” It is a daily, walking, talking personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And as we continue our pilgrimage through this temporary world with Christ, we would be wise to adhere to the advice of The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6: “take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil … .”