The Religion Racket
by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
Now With The Lord
© 2005 James H. Dearmore/Gospelweb.net

The Late Dr. Norman H. Wells

[GospelWeb.net Globe]

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This book began with the statement that, "Religion, in the United States, is a failure." Each chapter has emphasized some aspect of that failure.

Real religion is buried under a maze of contradicting claims, tired traditions, and the deliberate deceits of our religion racket. We have constantly practiced pretense in religion so long that it has become a way of life ... habitual hypocrisy.

Religion is supposed to be characterized by brotherly love but in reality the average church is a place of fretful feuding and frequent fighting. Most of today's churches were started by groups that got licked in a church fight and had to move out.

In general, religion has become a highly competitive business with hallelujah hucksters peddling packaged piety and bargain blessings. This competition and proselyting brings a response of disgust . . . and it should.

Instead of dedicated worship and sacrificial service, today's religion is offering what might be called ecclesiastical entertainment. This association of religious truth with mere entertainment has so cheapened the truth that no one takes it any more seriously than they do the patter of a night-club comic.

Religion has made itself look ridiculous by making the preposterous claim that all the hundreds of competing churches with their bigoted beliefs, contradicting claims, and diverse doctrines are really one religion.

It is an obvious fact that the high ideals, lofty goals, and high sounding phrases of religion do not find much expression in daily life. The sham and hypocrisy of modern day religion is brought into glaring light when we compare what we are with what we profess to believe.

The antics of the "spoiled saint" are well known and bring reproach on the name of religion. T

he feebleness of the church's effort to teach religion has produced a generation of spiritual ignoramuses. Man's effort to produce a "do it yourself" religion has proven to be disastrous.

The continual diminishing of the amount of time religious folks give to religion is a real indicator of the unhealthy condition of religion. Church goers trying to be religious and sinful at the same time is a pathetic sight. Professing belief in the Bible while at the same time ignoring it is ridiculous.

Today's religion keeps making promises it cannot keep and the world looks upon it as a failure.

Religious folks keep their religion locked up inside a church building and then wonder why it has no effect on the outside world.

America is like a man with a dread of cancer who win not go to a doctor because he is afraid that his fears win be realized. Maybe we have passed the point of no return.

In every aspect of life where religion is supposed to wield an influence, it is failing.

This sums up the diagnosis that has been made.

Is there a remedy? This is the question that naturally is asked. There is a remedy but it is so simple that our sophisticated age will scoff. Our wisdom makes us too proud to listen. It must be remembered that in sophistication, pride, and wisdom this age has produced many religions ... religions that are failing.

This generation likes to think of itself as having grown beyond the need of anything as simple as the remedy that the Bible offers, but it is the only one that has ever worked ... or that ever will work. Let us not stumble at its simplicity.

First, there has to be a recognition of the fact that something is wrong. As long as we go on keeping up a pretense of well being and refuse to acknowledge our need there is no hope. In all honesty we need to look at ourselves as we are and acknowledge the desperate spiritual need that we have. If religion is failing, let's admit it. If we have a hunger for something real in religion, let's look for that which will satisfy and bring assurance.

We have to come to an understanding of our responsibility in this failure. Anyone who honestly looks at his spiritual condition today must feel a sense of shame. We like to kid ourselves into thinking how good we are when inside we know better. We would rather bury our shame and sorrow under pretense but we need to recognize that it is the honest, healthy thing to feel sorrow and shame for our miserable spiritual condition.

When we finally recognize our condition and become ashamed and disgusted, it is a comparatively easy thing to be willing to reject it ... to desire to turn from it to something better.

Does all this sound familiar? There is a word the Bible uses to describe what we are saying. One word . . . repent! This is a word that is used over one hundred times in the Bible. Every nation that has followed the path that America is now traveling has heard the same cry ... repent!

The Scriptures record that, "Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent." (Matt. 4:17.) The Scriptures also reveal that God, "commandeth all men everywhere to repent." (Acts. 20:21.)

This is the remedy. God has made it simple and man has tried to make it complicated. Are we willing to listen?

We have listened to our man-made religions too long. We need to acknowledge they haven't worked. The Bible puts it this way, "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man." (Ps. 118:8.) It also says, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding." (Prov. 3:5.)

Trust in the Lord! This is so simple we can pass it right by in more frantic efforts at religion. It seems we can't believe that anything that simple can be the solution ... yet it is!

Trust in the Lord! Is this too difficult? We should find it easy to believe Him ... to put our faith in Him. Again the Scripture tells us, "Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." (I Cor. 2:5.)

Repentance and faith produces a reality in our religion that makes sham and pretense unnecessary. It is all summed up in one sublime statement that Jesus made. "Repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15.) Repent and believe!

We need to return to reality in religion.

A reality in assurance. "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life." (John 3:36.)

A reality in peace. "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you." (John 14:27.)

A reality in love. "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another." (I Thess. 3:12.)

A reality in happiness. "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord." (Ps. 144:15.)

A reality in worship. "Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing." (Ps. 100:2.)

A reality in life. "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance." (Gal. 5:22,23.)

The Bible contains hundreds of these promises. They are for real! They work! They produce a reality in religion. They are an anchor, sure and steadfast.

This is the remedy. It is the only way. We need to throw out the substitute and again demand the real thing.

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