Saint James the Less
There is a misinformed man on YouTube (I won’t even bother linking it) gaining attraction, because he is recycling the old addage that “religion can’t save you, only Christ can save you.” This is the Protestant strategy of playing religion off Christ. It’s a subtle argument that suggests that Christ never intended to found an institutional Church.
This view was especially popular in colonial America, because circuit preachers were attempting to draw Americans away from their institutional de facto religion (Anglicanism) to their revivals and “simple faith” (usually Methodism and Baptist movements). It was almost universally successful in the southern United States, which we know today as the Bible Belt. The method is a rhetorical strategy that deceives a great number of souls since most people have experienced dissatisfaction with “institutional religion.” Shoot, I’m a Catholic with a high view of the Catholic Church, but even I become frustrated and discouraged by the institution…
…but I’m not leaving it.
Matthew 16:18 reveals that Christ built one Church on Peter. That is the divine will and I hope to be united with it even if it is painful, annoying, or discouraging. It can be part of “taking of your cross daily.”
The word “religion” is not our enemy. The word religion comes from the Latin religare meaning to “to bind” or “to make a bond.” Our English word “to rely on” comes form this Latin word. Do you “rely” on Christ? Of course. The word is related to our English word ligament–something that binds your body together. The opposite of religare is negligare from which we get “negligent” and “neglect.” It becomes manifest here that “religion” is not the enemy. Rather, religion is the cure.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit speaking in the Sacred Scriptures affirms the existence of the true religion. Saint James the Apostle makes this explicitly clear:
And if any man think himself to be religious, not bridling his tongue but deceiving his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Religion clean and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their tribulation and to keep one’s self unspotted from this world (James 1:26–27, D-R).
Saint James speaks of “religion clean and undefiled before God.” Hmmm. The guy railing against “religion” in favor of Jesus Christ has side-stepped the Holy Ghost. Not a good move. You cannot favor Jesus Christ while at the same time rejecting the words of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Trinity is not a multiple choice question. It’s all or nothing. You’re either Trinitarian or you’re a heretic. Hard words, but true words.
So when your friends bring up the anti-religion YouTube guy, just pull out your New Testament (you do carry one with you, right?) and read them James 1:27. It settles it right away.
I recommend and endorse this Catholic pocket New Testament and Psalms. Fir men, it fits perfectly in your blazer and sports-coat side pockets. For ladies, it fits easily in a small purse. And it’s all leather for beauty and wear.