In what ways does the Christian religion steal the glory of God? Does it glorify Him in all things or does it directly oppose Him?
All glory belongs to God. Perhaps you’ve heard this being sung on a Sunday morning or shouted out during a rousing sermon. It’s a wonderful phrase. I would not hesitate to call it the most powerful and profound phrase a person could ever speak. However, this phrase is uttered in the church, not as a truthful declaration, but as a conscious choice made on the part of the utterer. Ever since I was young I can remember how the church has had this distinct air of self-importance. All glory belongs to God, but it comes from the utterers, the church, the righteous believers. The church holds a distinct doctrine that leads me to make such a sweeping judgement, but first let’s hear how Paul gives God glory.
Now to Him Who is able to do superexcessively above all that we are requesting or apprehending, according to the power that is operating in us, to Him be glory in the ecclesia and in Christ Jesus for all the generations of the eon of the eons! (Ephesians 3:20 CLNT)
There is a significant difference in the way Paul gives glory to God and the way the church does so. Paul designates God as sovereign first, acknowledges His power operating in us, and that out of this power flows his praise. God pours His grace and power first, it fills us, and we, filled with immense joy, rejoice and declare His wonder back to Him, not because He needs it, but because He wants it.
The Christian church will always agree with this superficially, however, there will be a caveat. This dance of grace begins, not in God, but in us. God “offers” grace (and I choose my words purposefully here) or extends His hand, but in order for this dance to begin we must take our step and grab hold, and not only grab hold, but actively continue the dance (i.e. becoming righteous and be repenting of sin). But as soon as we ask the question of why one takes hold of Christ’s hand and another doesn’t, the church’s mask falls clean off. A fellow member in the body of Christ says it beautifully,
….what is the reason that those other people who don’t choose to “receive the gift” don’t make that right choice, while the Christians did make the right choice to “receive” it? Was it that the others weren’t born as smart or wise or righteous or humble or lucky as they were? If so, was it their intelligence, their wisdom, their righteousness, or their humility, that saved them, or was it simply pure, dumb, random luck that they happened to make the right decision, while others weren’t fortunate enough to do so? (Concordant Gospel – Salvation by Superiority)
The doctrine of free will steals the glory of God and demeans the work of Christ, placing what was finished by Him onto ourselves.
For they, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, were not subjected to the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3 CLNT)
Christianity will tell you that being subjected to the righteousness of God, trusting that He has done all of the work and there is nothing else you can do, is far too easy. Paul is not saying that one must continue to do law “with Christ,” as Christianity would imply (meaning that the law is the deciding factor regarding the legitimacy of your faith), but that one must cease relying on the law at all, believing that our righteousness is found in Christ and there is nothing we could ever add to it.
For Christ is the consummation of law for righteousness to everyone who is believing. (Romans 10:4 CLNT)
There is a term being thrown around in Christian circles recently known as “easy believeism.” It is a term demeaning those who profess Christ yet seem to not completely obey Christian morals (whether through cussing, enjoying sexual pleasure, drinking, etc.). These easy believers cannot be Christian, it is said, because they aren’t living the way the religion says they should be. These easy believers must “take up their cross in repentance.”
This is the hypocritical, self-righteous, ugly attitude that has driven so many away. It’s hypocritical because out of one mouth they profess that Jesus is our saviour and out of the other they place lofty conditions on people to become their own saviour. It’s self-righteous because it implies the one speaking it has done the necessary work and the other hasn’t. And it’s ugly because it’s condescending. The finished work says Christ requires nothing of us and that loving Him is easy because all of the work, all of the credit for our righteousness, and all of the glory for our faith, belongs to Him, the author and the finisher (Hebrews 12:2). And over time, in His way and if He so decides, He changes our wants to His wants and this is never something we force ourselves to do. Our beloved Paul says it better than I ever could,
Now to the worker, the wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as a debt. Yet to him who is not working, yet is believing on Him Who is justifying the irreverent, his faith is reckoned for righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5 CLNT)
This way God receives all glory for His work in our lives. Paul’s Gospel is the most beautiful words ever written on paper but Christianity has rejected it. They say that the mark of the Christian is one who struggles against the flesh. It has clung to the words of Jesus (the Gospel of the Circumcision for the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24)) and misconstrued even them. To take up your cross, in the Christian religion, is to carry the sin the cross already took for the world. This belief opposes the death and resurrection of Christ because it denies the accomplishment of His death and resurrection. Truth is much simpler and less mystical and convoluted. To take up one’s cross simply means to put the Gospel first, even through viscous persecution. And once we know how easy and wonderful fellowship with Christ is, man’s disapproval no longer carries any sting. Why? Because it directly opposes the finished work and glory of our saviour. And if our Lord is for us, who can be against us?