I Have a Relationship with Christ November 7, 2008

I Have a Relationship with Christ

I heard it again the other day.

A Christian said to me, “Oh, I’m not religious. I just have a relationship with Christ.”

So I responded back: “Oh, I’m not a math teacher. I just teach students how to manipulate numbers and variables.”

In terms of getting a conversation going, I think I failed.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Winston


  • lmao, well said.

  • NeuroLover

    May not have been the best conversation starter, but in terms of being totally snarky and awesome you won. Hard.

  • mikespeir

    The main idea in the region of religion is-Your eyes upon God, not on men. Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door and talk to God in secret. Have no other motive than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to conduct your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer: Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, September 16

    Funny how 100 years ago Evangelicals/Fundamentalists used “religion” as virtually synonymous with “Christianity.” This “It’s not a religion, it’s a relationship” stuff is fairly recent. Oswald Chambers, among many others, wouldn’t have recognized it.

  • Siamang

    In the old days, they used to say “I’m not religious, I just Love the Lord!”

    You know religion’s got a PR problem when they have to start telling people that their religion isn’t a religion.

    That’s like McCain running as the “change” candidate!

  • “It’s not religion, it’s just a belief that I have a connection with an unseen magical entity whose traits and demands for us all are accurately portrayed in a set of texts that I lend undue credence to.”

  • noodleguy

    *high five*
    Dude, that was awesome. ‘Nuff said.

  • Daniel H.


    When Christians (at least evangelicals, I’m assuming it was an evangelical who said that because only they would, most likely, ha) say that, generally what they are trying to do is disassociate their faith with external trappings.

    A lot of unbelievers have the impression that Christians believe we “get to heaven” by going to church and praying and reading our Bibles. It’s that kind of misunderstanding such statements are trying to avoid.

    Sometimes they’ll try to make the same point by saying things like “Religion is man’s attempt to reach God, Christianity is about God reaching down to us”.

    A lot of times we talk past each other. That much is true.

  • SarahH

    Sometimes they’ll try to make the same point by saying things like “Religion is man’s attempt to reach God, Christianity is about God reaching down to us”.

    Yeah, but responding to a perceived God reaching down is a religious act. Interacting in any way with a god that you believe exists is religious behavior.

    It’d be like an atheist saying, “Well, I’m not an atheist, I just don’t believe in any gods” or a musician saying, “Well, I’m not a pianist, but I do play the piano” or someone saying, “I’m not a feminist, but I do want women to have all the same rights that feminists fight for.”

    It’s a big turn-off. If you want to clarify that you’re “spiritual, not religious” I have a bit more patience for you, but the “I’m not religious, I just [fill in the blank with a very religious belief or practice]” thing irritates me and actually slightly lowers my respect for the speaker, as I believe they’re deluding themselves and/or others about their belief system.

  • There is a difference between faith and religion though. A person can have faith in a personal god but not ascribe to the dogma of a given religion. I’m all for cutting back on dogma.

    There’s also the general idea that “Christ followers” rather than “Christians” tend to follow the ideas of The Sermon on the Mount rather than the hellfire and damnation crap. Again, this is a good thing. If you’re going to follow a particular faith then follow the bits that make you a better person and not the bits that make you picket funerals with “God hates Fags” signs.

  • But there isn’t a difference between faith and religion. Religion isn’t simply trappings, although that can be part of it. Religion is a Authority/subject relationship with a deity.

    I totally covered this.

  • Jason

    It is a strange stance of arrogance when they think their particular magical myth is somehow more reasonable than every other magical myth.

    My first response to that was “in that case, you won’t mind if I take away your religious freedoms, right?”

  • Jodie

    Is it really a relationship with Christ? Or more of a “I call him sometimes when I’ve had to much to drink and I’m feeling lonely” situation?

  • Melinda

    Religion- 1. An organized system or institution of belief based upon the traditions of men instead of the pursuit of friendship with God. 2. The act of playing church, exchanging internal truths for external performance; substituting spiritual realities with carnal rituals.

    Just because someone is religious does not mean that they have a relationship with God. A man cannot “earn” his way into heaven through acts of kindness or general “goodness” It is all about faith. We were all born with a need to believe in something greater than ourselves.

  • “Oh, I’m not a math teacher. I just teach students how to manipulate numbers and variables.”

    Well actually…

    I think this is a pretty decent metaphor for the distinction these theists are trying to make. As you’re aware, the math students learn in high school (largely learning and practicing algorithms for solving specific kinds of problems) bears very little resemblance to what research mathematicians do. When a theist says “I’m not religious”, they usually mean they don’t go through the motions of religious ritual. I think this is a valid distinction to make, as long as they keep the holier-than-everyone-else look off their face when they say it.

  • I decided that phrase is no different than when people try to differentiate themselves from “white trash” or any lesser subgroup of themselves.

    I don’t like it because I think we’re all more alike than different.

    As a matter of fact, I don’t think the subgroup of “atheist” or “religionist” means much either.

    All humans. Humans needing to prove they are different than “them” for ego reasons.



    A way to pass life as a social creature.

  • Adam

    My preferred response to “I have a relationship with Christ” is: “Sweet. Does he put out?”

  • I can understand what the person was trying to say. It is like saying you don’t subscribe to organized religions. Some people love to say “I’m Catholic” or “I’m Baptist.” I would say “I’m not into organized religion, but I follow the teachings of Jesus and Confucius.”

    It is the same thing when it comes to politics. Some people blindly follow one major party or the other. I’m registered as “unaffiliated” but would describe myself as a “progressive liberal.”

  • Cafeeine

    Am I the only person who thinks this “this is not a religion” meme got started to circumvent restrictions placed on ‘religion’?

    That said, it fits a religious frame of mind to consider their own personal belief system different from any other, so the idea foud fertile ground.

    For the ones who started this meme it was a tactical move. For the hpnest believer, its just another contradiction that requires faoth to survive.

  • Richard Wade

    I think the Christians I’ve heard saying “I’m not religious…” were meaning “I’m not a judgmental, pompous, bigoted, ignorant jerk, so please give me a chance.” They’re basically embarrassed by their peers, and it may be true that they are not like that. The only way to know is to give them a chance. Some turn out to be decent people and some don’t.

  • I’m not an atheist. I just don’t believe in God(s).

  • Glen


    You were dealing with a person with a very low IQ (both in the conventional sense and in the sense of Irony Quotient). You should probably shorten your response to: “I’m not mathematical. I just have a relationship with numbers.”

  • Jason said:

    It is a strange stance of arrogance when they think their particular magical myth is somehow more reasonable than every other magical myth.

    Actually I think it is. The OT had their imaginary friend telling them to kill disobedient or even just different people. The NT got their imaginary friend to say that we should all treat each other as we’d hope that they’d treat us, a significant improvement. Unfortunately it introduced the idea of hell. Now these Jesus followers come along and reject the doctrine of hell and focus of the helpful stuff. Great. Their flavour of imaginary thinking isn’t nearly as harmful as the hellfire and damnation crowd or the God Hates Fags crowd.

    OK it isn’t any more based in reality but it is a dam sight better to believe in a loving friend-god than a vengeful, smiting god. It is also one step closer to understanding that you don’t need ancient dogma or books with floods, talking animals and people living in fish to be a decent human being. Until then I’d prefer that they cherry pick religion to help them act decently.

    Cafeeine said

    Am I the only person who thinks this “this is not a religion” meme got started to circumvent restrictions placed on ‘religion’?

    When the restrictions are acceptance of homosexuality, other races and gender equality then I’m fine with that.

  • Matthew

    Haha! Seriously my wife and I laughed out loud… That was awesome.

  • Spork

    Perfect reply. Perfect.

  • Hemant :

    Consider that response stolen 🙂 I love it!

  • Awesomesauce


    I’ve used this line before.

    In fact, I use a similar one now.

    Instead of outright saying I’m atheist when talking to coworkers or old church friends, I’ll say something like “I’m on a faith journey” or “Right now I’m searching.”

    Although, what I really mean is, “I don’t feel safe talking about my perspective to you.”

    Actually, this seems to get most people to respect my boundaries (probably because they don’t want to scare me away from their christ).

    Though I sometimes have to explain my Friendly Atheist bracelet too…

  • That’s something that’s cropped up lately. It seems some of them have tired of their religion being called a religion, so now they claim it’s “a personal relationship with Jesus”. I usually hear it from the more conservative fundamentalist types.

    Sorry, but if it walks like a religion, talks like a religion and oppresses others like a religion then it’s a religion.

  • ChrisO.

    Best response I’ve heard to that comment: “I’m not honest, but you’re interesting.”

  • Buffy said:

    Sorry, but if it walks like a religion, talks like a religion and oppresses others like a religion then it’s a religion.

    Yet someone who disavowes organised religion in favour of a “personal relationship” in in a state of flux when it comes to their faith. It seems likely that the Christ followers (as opposed to Christians) will eventually settle down to form their own set of traditions based on their interpretation of scripture and their own wishful thinking. I’m sure Christianity has done this every few generations since the Reformation. It is one of the strengths of Christianity that it appeals to so many differing views.

    I would prefer that the next generation of Christians were tolerant of differing faith views, charitable, open minded and reasonable. The sort of people who view all of “God’s creatures” as equal rather than mark out homosexuals or women or an ethnic group as “the enemy”.

  • All these creepy new agey ways of spouting religious nonsense really irritate me. You have a relationship with Jesus? What is this, The Sixth Sense?

  • Oli

    I have a personal relationship with Christ. Really?

    Does Christ talk to you? If so, what does he talk about? And i don’t mean through the bible, by that reasoning i have a personal relationship with JRR Tolkein.

    If Christ doesn’t talk to you but you talk back, then your relationship may need counselling. Seriously, imagine if your significant other never talked to you no matter how much you talked to them. That’d be grounds for moving on.

    I’d like to ask this person exactly what input Christ puts into the relationship.

  • I miss the old Christian view:

    All of us have a relationship with God. We are either His mortal enemies or we have been reconciled to Him in Christ.

    No fence to sit on there.