Religion: it’s complicated. but not for some.

What is religion? Why does it exist? What purpose does it serve? Why does it often seem so tied in with the base of conflict?

People do seem to want to know exactly what they should do and how they should behave. They want concrete and simple answers to all matters of life. But reality doesn’t often fit with what makes sense. Trying to make sense anyway is what religion is all about.

April is a celebration of several events of religious significance and takes note of some of the different ways religions deal with answers by suggesting that Christianity Is Not a Tucked-in-Tight Religion.

Islam offers lots of definite answers, but Christianity takes after Christ in leaving some questions on the table and often offering stories rather than formulas. Don Everts and Doug Schaupp, in I Once Was Lost (IVP, 2008), state that “Jesus is asked 183 questions in the Gospels. He answers just three of them—and he asks 307 questions back.”

The type of questions is also significant. Quranic questions tend to be rhetorical or hectoring: “Do they not know that Allah knows what they keep secret?” (Sura 2:7). Christ’s questions probe: “What do you want me to do for you?. . . How do you read the law? . . . What are you looking for?”

It may be that complexity, questions without definitive answers, lead to an intellectual habit of seeking further to find truth. That habit may be one reason why Western Cultures based on Christianity have yielded continual advancement in intellectual ideas and learning. That has also yielded continual advancement in health and welfare to the point where it has become a topic of envy and self guilt. Those feelings, in turn, may stimulate a desire for simpler answers and other nonproductive outlets – like terrorism.

But if you want more than a series of statements and more than a book of rules about what we should and should not do, then read the Bible and understand it as a story of what God did for us. Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.

Is your life simple? Or is it complicated? How do you deal with it? Advance or retreat? Fortify or explore? Accept or deny?

On a related note, consider the plight of Bill Calhoun at a town commission meeting. He thinks the prayer before the meeting is a violation of the Constitution. The Commission unanimously agreed to the prayer and more than 500 people at the meeting erupted in cheers. “I’m here to tell you that Christians are fed up with being the fall guy for every person in this country,” Military veteran Joe Quinn of Lady Lake said.

Reaction, response, and simplicity complicated it is.

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