Blitz Q: #111– What the heck is it supposed to mean when a Christian says, “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship”?

This is one of those “whaaaa?” statements that’s gone through my mind off and on the past few years. I don’t recall hearing it when I was younger and more into church and all, but then again, I’ve forgotten a lot.

I’ve heard this phrase a few times in recent years, more and more often each year, it seems.

When I really started researching and listening to podcasts about belief and disbelief, the phrase “bumper sticker” to describe overly-simplistic explanations (or feel-good stuff) by Christian teachers stuck with me. This particular phrase feels like a bumper sticker. It has the depth and double-talk of a Deepak Chopra quote, meant to sound more profound and reasonable than it really should, only confusing when you get a chance to really think about it after the fact.

Uh, Christianity is a religion, isn’t it? You still have to do some certain rituals and whatnot (which indicates a religious institution) to get your afterlife rewards, or get right with God, or whatever, don’t you?

And as far as the “relationship” is concerned, how is that supposed to work? What’s this “relationship” supposed to be about? Who is involved? How are they involved? How reciprocal is the “relationship”?

And how does that make Christianity a “relationship” rather than a “religion”?

This one really baffles me. I haven’t hit on too much regarding it in my current books (some I’m looking at right now are well over a decade old, when I definitely don’t remember hearing much of this phrase), so I can’t get anything out of those.

But honestly, what is a Christian saying (and meaning) when they use the phrase “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship.”? What is the listener supposed to take from that?

Have any of you, dear readers, said it to someone, or had it said to you? Or heard it elsewhere? What did you take from it when it came out?

I’m in full-throttle study mode right now, so I’m still trying to learn as much as I can. I just can’t quite get this one wrapped around my head.

Floor’s yours…

7 thoughts on “Blitz Q: #111– What the heck is it supposed to mean when a Christian says, “it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship”?

  1. bobcabkings says:

    I haven’t studied the matter, but it seems to me that “Its a relationship” must refer to “taking Jesus Christ as your personal savior”. How that related to whether or not it is “a religion” is not clear to me. Perhaps the idea is to separate their church from all those other so called “religions” which they regard as false or mistaken.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suze says:

    the “relationship” is the personal feelings of connection with God, and a loving relationship with the Christ (you can supposedly have a personal relationship with Jesus because he was “raised from the dead” therefor alive right now. It is a way to separate the “church” (whichever denomination) from personal beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TheChattyIntrovert says:

      Unfortunately, I hear it all the time now. It must be a largely Southern Baptist thing, or maybe I just think that since it’s largely those who claim to be Southern Baptist that say it. The last one was actually a Baptist preacher I was helping with an application. He said it so matter-of-factly it just bugged me because it sounds like one of those things that’s meant to be profound, and yet more vague than a fortune cookie. Just baffles me.

      Liked by 1 person

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