What on earth is religion?

‘Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens…”’ Genesis  11:4
Don’t you hate being called ‘religious’? I regard myself as a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, not as a religious person. How about you? I guess the reason I don’t like being called religious is that I associate the word with things like traditions, rituals, and rites that seem man-made rather than God-given.

I define religion as any human attempt to find a way, on his or her terms, to God. The Tower of Babel was an early example of this. The people of that day wanted a way to relate to God that suited and served them. So they built a stepped pyramid, a ziggurat ‘tower’ so they could climb up to the heavens. They constructed a temple on the top of the pyramid filled with representations of the sun, moon, and stars. Then they developed a religious system of worship to these celestial objects, these ‘gods’. 

Things haven’t changed much since then. There are many religions in the world, ranging from Islam to New Age spiritualism. All of them claim some sort of divine origin. Islam professes that an angel gave Mohammed the contents of the Koran, and New Age practitioners would like us to believe that disembodied higher beings channelled wisdom through them. However, when we get right down to the basic issue of validation, only Mohammed saw the angel and only the New Agers personally experience the ‘channelling’. It is all very subjective.

Christianity, on the other hand, is the name we give to an individual and corporate relationship with Jesus Christ. God the Son personally came to Earth, incarnate as a man, and revealed the nature and purposes of God to all who were prepared to see, hear, and believe. For three and a half years he walked the length and breadth of Palestine in the company of twelve men and a larger crowd of followers. Tens of thousands heard his words and saw the miracles he performed. Even after he had risen from the tomb he appeared to more than five hundred people at one time (1 Corinthians 15:6).

How do you regard religion? Are you religious or do you have a relationship with God?

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Christopher Peppler



2 thoughts on “What on earth is religion?”

  1. Hi, how would you regard the Bible as part of a relationship with Jesus? It seems to me that in todays standards four thin books outlining key points in a persons life (the gospels) are such a small insight into his life. The gospels, therefore, can get boring and repeditive especially if a person has been a Christian for a long time. I wonder if the right way of reading the Gospels is to use them similarly as Paul did as a starting point in a broad view of who Jesus is and then like he did when he wrote his letters broaden it in our own lives to get a deeper more personal insight into who Jesus is?

    Just a thought…

  2. Hi Lance. Of course, we can find Jesus in the Old Testament (for instance His pre-incarnate appearance with Abraham) and in the book of Revelation. Also, Paul describes His divinity in places like Colossians 1:15-20. However, I never tire of reading about Jesus in the Gospels. What I do is change the way I read and this keeps it fresh. Sometimes I read several chapters at one time to get a sense of the movement and scope of Jesus’ ministry. At other times I take just one incident or teaching and re-read it several times over a number of days until it all sinks in. But my favorite way of reading a Gospel account is to put myself into the story. I see the surroundings and the players in my mind. I try to smell and hear and feel. Soon the scene becomes vivid and dynamic. Then I simply wait to see if the Holy Spirit will highlight something to me or ‘speak’ to me in some way through the passage. He often does!

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.