|Photo Credit: Russell Shaw Higgs|
Has "Religion" become a sort of spiritual dirty word?
For many of those old timers of yesteryear, I get the sense that the word “religion” was not a negative word but rather simply an innocent way to speak of one’s faith. For them it was not only a word used to describe people of other faiths, but used equally to describe people of the Christian faith. Were they wrong in their understanding and use of the word “religion?” No, not necessarily. Their use of the word was consistent with the dictionary definition.
My dictionary defines “religion” as: “1. belief in or worship of God or gods; 2. a particular system of religious belief and worship; 3. a matter of conscience.” If we use that definition, then all Christians are “religious.” So what is the problem?
The problem is that for many today, the word “religion” seems to have been redefined, or is in the process of being redefined, to mean something different than it once meant. If there were a new dictionary definition, it might read something like “1. rules or rituals pertaining to faith as carried out in an institutional environment; 2. the way of trying to earn the approval of a deity.” The word “religion” does seem to be evolving.
|Photo Credit: Marie-ll|
Original definitions of words, while maybe still valid, do sometimes fall by the wayside as new definitions become more and more prevalent. While these new definitions often have their genesis in slang terminology, eventually the slang usage seems to become the norm. By way of example, consider the word “gay.” What it once meant versus the way it is understood today are two very different things. Its original definition, “happy and full of fun,” is still valid, but it is seldom used that way today. The slang use to denote a homosexual seems to have become the new accepted norm.
I cannot help but wonder if the same sort of thing hasn't happened to the word "religion." Perhaps it has simply morphed into something different. Perhaps, like with so many other words today, we need to spend more time explaining what we mean by the words that we use, and especially so if we want to make certain that we are not misunderstood.
It’s time for you to weigh in. I’d love to hear your take on this.
- Has the word “religion” gotten a bad rap?
- Has the word “religion” become a sort of spiritual dirty word?
- What is your definition of the word "religion?"
- Has something else happened to change the way the word “religion” is understood by many in today’s church?