Christianity is Not a Religion

caponI ran across this remark the other day and it hits the nail squarely on the head. Capon is an episcopal priest and cook.

“Christianity is not a religion. Christianity is the proclamation of the end of religion, not of a new religion, or even of the best of all religions… If the cross is the sign of anything it’s the sign that God has gone out of the religion business and solved all of the world’s problems without requiring a single human being to do a single religious thing. What the cross is actually a sign of is the fact that religion can’t do a thing about the world’s problems – that it never did work and it never will.”

Robert Farrar Capon

Here is a link to an interesting interview from a few years ago by Tim Brassel of Christian Odyssey. Capon has quite a few books in print and I am looking forward to delving into them.


  1. #1 by ric booth on March 4, 2008 - 10:14 am

    Uncle Ben, I think Capon and you are using different definitions of religion. You may be speaking of theology and/or history. I believe Capon is speaking of “religious treadmills.”

    So I don’t think Capon or anyone is advocating not learning about religion. My point is, teaching the treadmill lifestyle is easy… living the treadmill is another thing.

  2. #2 by Uncle Ben on March 4, 2008 - 1:05 pm

    Point taken, but I’m conscious that there can often be confusion. Legitimate protest against an ossified and religiony church can become indifference to Christ because the two are seen as inextricably linked. I’m thinking of the French church at the time of the Revolution or the English church since WW2.

    The strong need to take care that they do not upset the faith of the weak, but seek to strengthen it. So there might be structures that are not necessary for salvation, but that remain necessary for the time being. In this instance I’m thinking in particular of Luther and Karlstadt butting heads in Wittenburg over how quickly to change everything.

  3. #3 by Christian on March 4, 2008 - 3:03 pm

    Good point. So wouldn’t we be compelled to show that they are not linked?

    It’s interesting that you bring up the European church. One of the distinguishing differences between US church/government relations and that of Europe’s is that they have really no tradition of the separate church and state. Across the continent they are either officially sanctioned, subsidized or formally linked to government. And consequently the European church has languished.

    Aren’t Luther and Karlstadt products of an overly religious church?

  4. #4 by Uncle Ben on March 4, 2008 - 4:05 pm

    They absolutely are. And I very much agree that one of the most important things that a church can do is distinguish between religion and Christ. Lutherans would use the terms Law and Gospel to distinguish these two concepts.

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