What if religion is like breathing?

I just wanted to share a small portion from our sermon last Sunday by Kevin DeYoung. If you want to watch the sermon follow this link. If you just want to watch this part of the sermon, start the video around the 35 minute mark.

The default religious impulse in America is a religion that is personalized, psychologized, and pragmatized. That’s sort of the default, that’s the air we breathe. Religion is something that is personal (between you and God), and your understanding of it. And it’s psychological, the benefits are what they do to you, how they make you feel at peace, and they deal with your guilt, and they give you a good feeling about life, and make you feel like a better person. And it’s pragmatic, religion is about what works for you. If this helps you, and gets you through life, and helps you to cope, gives you comfort, gets you on track, helps you be a moral person, then that’s fine. See, that is the default religious sensibility…

But we believe our faith is built upon facts, upon certain events in history that have been passed down to us by eyewitness accounts. So it’s the difference between having a discussion with your friend who says,

“I think Holland has the best beach in Michigan.”

“No no no, not Holland. Come on. No, Grand Haven, or obviously you’ve never been up north to Traverse City, or to Sleeping Bear Dunes. Wasn’t that voted the most beautiful spot in the universe on Good Morning America or something?”

You don’t know. You go back and forth and say, “well, if that’s where you have a special meaning and affection then that’s fine for you.”

That’s how people think of religion.

But what if it’s more like having a conversation with your friend who says,

“You know what? I can breathe underwater.”

You say, “I don’t think you can.”

“I can.”

“I don’t believe that you can breathe underwater, and I believe if you try, and if you tie a safe onto your leg and you jump out of the boat, you’ll find that you can’t breathe underwater.”

“Well, why can’t you just allow that I can breathe underwater?”

“Because you can’t!”

See, it’s a different understanding. And so often, I think Christians and non-Christians talk past each other because you have this person over here whose understanding is “well religion is about preferences and opinions and about what helps me and makes me feel better.” And as Christians, we understand – no, this is about facts, about the way that the world is and the way God has revealed it to be.

So we believe in these objective realities whether anyone wants to affirm them or not. That God created the world, that God sent his son Jesus, that he died for our sins, that he rose again on the third day, that there is such a thing as objective sin and guilt and a real Heaven and Hell. We believe that these things are because they are.

4 thoughts on “What if religion is like breathing?

  1. Here’s just a few random reactions to your thought-provoking post: Most thinking doesn’t even take place on a conscious level so we are not even aware of what we are not aware of…. We consciously believe in many things, but do we really have the intellect to know that they are true?… What if we believe in something consciously, but unconsciously we know that it’s not true?… By definition, isn’t it impossible to know God?

    • I agree that there can be more than one way of *knowing* something – that’s why we spend so much time just trying to understand ourselves. But that doesn’t make it impossible to know God – and certainly one can know the historical facts that Christianity is built upon as well as one knows anything else about history.

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