Thanks for your thoughts, Steve.
Well, as far as the word "religion" goes, I am not interested in conforming everybody to my usage of it. The fact is that more times than not, the word, in its current usage represents a system of human effort. If you like the word in the context you learned it, go for it. As far as I'm concerned, I think the concept behind the main usage of the word has a stranglehold on too many believers.
You have picked up on what I meant simply because I made sure that I couched it carefully to carry the sense I write of. If you read just about anything I've written, you will notice a similar careful placement of my words. I do that on purpose to communicate on the level of those who hear me. If I were speaking of the freedom of Christ within a church-group setting, my verbiage would reflect it to communicate within the framework of that particular group. Now, I know many among those particular groups who are in desperate need to hear the reality of Christ in a fresh way, so I do encourage you to consider that maybe some of them don't hear you in the way you think they hear you. Just a thought.
So far, the very few concerns that I've received about my usage of such terms have sounded very much like yours where the person agreed with what they assumed I meant, but wouldn't use the word(s) as I did. I can live with that, as apparently, so can they. The majority who respond to my writings have followed my train of thought very clearly. I received this response just now:
Omygosh. Do you, by any chance know me? Did you know that I needed to read (not only read but absorb) every word you wrote?
Her letter only reflected sheer relief in her freedom in Christ in this area without any hint of condemnation toward any religion (as you would term it).
When you refer to "religion" I understand you to mean "that institutional habit of going to a church with prescribed ways of so-called worship." Steve
That's just the tip of the iceberg. Religion, as I sense it's meaning in our current society, is the stuff that drives us, in general, as we attempt to make our mark in this world. The religion I refer to needs no building, no organizational structure, no by-laws, etc. It is the same mindset that causes family members, workers, lovers, nations, etc to strive against one another in the misguided attempt of self-preservation. The religion I speak of in the church did not originate with the church, but simply because the mindset was carried in by each and every member. In this sense, no one is exempt. No one can point to the other in blame, for all are the same. It is this mindset that I carried into the groups I joined; and it is only because it already existed in me that particular things of the mindset was strengthened by those of like-mind (kind of a twist on that word, too, huh?).
Well, you asked what I thought ... :) You probably didn't expect all of this!!