Alex Himaya contends that more Christians need to lose their religion.
It’s not that Himaya, pastor of theCHURCH.at in Tulsa, wants them to give up their faith. But in his new book “Jesus Hates Religion — Finding Grace in a Works-Driven Culture,” he says too much religion is bad for your soul.
Religion, he says, is about somehow trying to impress God with your actions. Faith is a response to what God has already done for people in Jesus.
“We look at the distance between us and God and think we can somehow make that up,” Himaya says. “That’s religion.”
Himaya’s book, released May 1 by B&H Publishing, began as a sermon series in 2009. Jesus Hates Religion is a combination of stories and reflections on Scripture, plus comments from people who heard the original sermon series.
Himaya admits it’s tricky for a pastor to criticize religion. But he doesn’t mince words.
“Religion is poison,” he wrote, “because it kills every opportunity you will ever have to experience genuine intimacy with God.”
As a pastor, Himaya says he wants people to develop spiritual habits — like reading the Bible, prayer and serving others — that help grow their faith.
But he says many people, both inside the church and outside, see those habits as some kind of scorecard. Some may think if a person earns enough spiritual points God will bless them. But that kind of thinking, Himaya says, undermines the Gospel.
“It almost turns faith into a transaction, where God’s favor is for sale,” Himaya says.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press