Religion was defined 200 years ago as “Real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men”, and it is simply how a nation, a people, or a society takes care of its needy and therefore how they serve the God or gods they have chosen for themselves.
Over time, religion was redefined by men to mean "what you think about a supreme being".
So which definition is correct?
Only once it appears in the text (James 1:27) as a positive good thing.
Can you change what religion means in the Bible by changing the definition in the minds of men and women?
The Bible tells us that Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. (James 1:27)
The difference between Pure Religion and Public religion is most often marked by the difference between voluntary acts of charity and forced compliance or contributions by authorities. This difference was at the core of the Christian conflict with Rome which had been in a process of decline for more than 200 years.
Polybius saw the downfall of the republic a 150 years before the first Emperor of Rome and 175 years before the birth of Jesus Christ and John the Baptist warning the people their "appetite for benefits and the habit of receiving them by way of a rule of force and violence" have "grown accustomed to feed at the expense of others and to depend for their livelihood on the property of others... institute the rule of violence... and now uniting their forces massacre, banish, and plunder, until they degenerate again into perfect savages and find once more a master and monarch." 
When someone uses the word religion today they might think the word means:
- “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs or a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects...”
But if you look up the same word in a dictionary published just a hundred years before, when many words we commonly use today were being changed, you will see that the word “religion” according to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) meant:
- “The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and over ruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies..."
In these two definitions, we see that “religion” in a hundred years went from meaning, “The outward act or form ” to meaning "a set of beliefs.”
Changing the meaning of the word religion from an “act” to a “belief” was no small step to say nothing of the rest of the definition. But the change did not begin there. If we go back just a little over fifty years before that to John Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary adapted to the Constitution of the United States we find that religion was first defined:
- “Real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men.”
Do not be confused or put off by the word piety. While the word “piety” has come to mean “making a hypocritical display of virtue”, it formerly meant duty, especially to your parents and specifically to your father. Duty to your natural father was the origin of the original patriotism before the state became your father.
The progression of the meaning of religion away from our Duty to God and our fellow man was gradual but steady.
By 1928 Webster relegates to second place references to our duty to fellow men as:
- "2. Religion, as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law."
Webster's primary definition in 1928 still contained an emphasis upon duty, but it was written as:
- "1. Religion, in its most comprehensive sense, includes a belief in the being and perfections of God, in the revelation of his will to man, in man's obligation to obey his commands, in a state of reward and punishment, and in man's accountableness to God; and also true godliness or piety of life, with the practice of all moral duties. It therefore comprehends theology, as a system of doctrines or principles, as well as practical piety; for the practice of moral duties without a belief in a divine lawgiver, and without reference to his will or commands, is not religion." 
Webster's 1913 definition continued to change:
- "1. The outward act or form by which men indicate their recognition of the existence of a god or of gods having power over their destiny, to whom obedience, service, and honor are due; the feeling or expression of human love, fear, or awe of some superhuman and overruling power, whether by profession of belief, by observance of rites and ceremonies, or by the conduct of life; a system of faith and worship; a manifestation of piety; as, ethical religions; monotheistic religions; natural religion; revealed religion; the religion of the Jews; the religion of idol worshipers." [1913 Webster]
This movement of religion, away from being a Doer, to instead mean someone who merely thinks a particular way or line of thinking, has removed most religions away from Pure Religion into covetous practices of Public religion and False religion.
Some link the term Religion to the Latin "religare", meaning "things bound". Cicero linked the term religion to the Latin term "relegere", which means “to read over again". Are the terms "religare" and "relegere" linked? Repeating information or ideas over and over is a way of linking your mind to particular ideas or ways of thinking. "Relegere" (repetition) leads to "religare" (bound), similar to the way a button is fastened securely onto a garment with many strands of thread.
In James 1:27, we see the word religion used in place of the Greek word "threskia", which often referred to ceremonies, or practices including acts and common discipline.
Part of the "Understanding Religion" series includes these audio files on Civil Religion.
Liberty Radio Live - this is a 2 hour program with in-depth discussion and Q&A from callers and the chat room.
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The Sabbath Hour - This is a one hour program on Freedomizer Radio to round out the day's discussions. The Sabbath Hour series make for a good entry-level discussion.
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I wanted everyone to know that false teachers have been around for some time, and they are getting better at spreading falsehoods about the gospel. The Gospel of Christ presented Christ as the humble servant, and He was accepted as such by thousands of Jews, and also by gentiles like the Roman centurion and Samaritans and people all over. Paul preached the gospel of Christ, and his "good news" was no different than Christ's Gospel.
False teachers use quotes from the Bible. The serpent in the garden did the same thing, and the draw of Babylon entices because it presents many of the same ideas presented in the gospel. The Levite, Korah, drew a following by presenting his version of logic and evaluation (see Numbers 16, verse 3 and the whole chapter).
These kinds are drawing followers, and the philosophies of deception they spread have been around for some time, and they are full of distortions and twists of what the Bible really says. Read more...
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- ↑ At the same time piety was defined as the duty to your Father and Mother and through them to others with in your community.
- ↑ John Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
- ↑ Judges 10:14 Go and cry unto the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation.
- ↑ Acts 26:5 Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion (threskeia) I lived a Pharisee.
- Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion(Ioudaismos), how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it:
- Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion (Ioudaismos) above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
- James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion (threskeia) is vain.
- James 1:27 Pure religion (threskeia) and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
- ↑ Colossians 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping (threskeia) of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
- ↑ Matthew 11:12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
- ↑ Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets [were] until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
- ↑ Polybius: The Histories (composed at Rome around 130 BC) Fragments of Book VI, p289.
- ↑ Dictionary.com says it means based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.
- ↑ RELIGION. Real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men.
- 2. There are many actions which cannot be regulated by human laws, and many duties are imposed by religion calculated to promote the happiness of society. Besides, there is an infinite number of actions, which though punishable by society, may be concealed from men, and which the magistrate cannot punish. In these cases men are restrained by the knowledge that nothing can be hidden from the eyes of a sovereign intelligent Being; that the soul never dies, that there is a state of future rewards and
- 3. What Montesquieu says of a prince, applies equally to an individual.
- 4. But religion can be useful to man only when it is pure. The constitution of the United States has, therefore, wisely provided that it should never be united with the state. Art. 6, 3. Vide Christianity; Religious test; Theocracy. John Bouvier's 1856 Law Dictionary
- ↑ Definition of pious in the British & World English dictionary
- ↑ Call no man Father, What was Christ trying to tell us about fathers on the earth?
- "Religion is the recognition of all our duties as divine commands."
About the author Brother Gregory