Was Jesus Anti-Organized Religion


Well, basically the question is in the title


“Organized Religion” can mean a lot of things, from “two or three” meeting together, to city-wide groups “assembling together” to a regional association of congregations with acknowledged leaders to a full world-wide hierarchical organization.

So please do define what you mean by “Organized Religion”.

With that request for clarity (BTW, “E. All of the above” would be an appropriate and informative answer):

  • Jesus specifically spoke of “two or three” meeting together in His name;

  • Jesus spoke of activities - what would be called church discipline (Matthew 18) and what is variously called communion or the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table (or etc.) - which could only be done in congregations of some size;

  • The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), the book of Acts and most of Paul’s epistles describe or assume both city-wide churches/congregations and a regional (most of the Roman Empire, at the time those various books were written) association of congregations with generally acknowledged leaders.

So three of the four possible meanings of “organized religion” that I listed above were commanded by Jesus and have examples in the rest of the New Testament. A world-wide, more formal, organization was not precluded by Jesus, but must conform to certain parameters Jesus taught (e.g. servant leadership and spiritual unity among believers). That latter sentence, of course, reflects my perspective as a theologically conservative Protestant; a theologically conservative Catholic views the Catholic Church as THE Church Jesus founded.


Oh, sorry. Subject to a definition of “Organized Religion” I didn’t anticipate above, my simple answer to your title question is, “No”.


So you don’t think he’d be against such large institutions as Methodist, catholic etc etc.

I want your opinion based on scriptures, even I can see the taboo of speaking for Jesus.


Several times in the Bible it says that Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day as was his custom. Sounds very pro-“organized religion” to me. And other writers in the NT spoke about who should be permitted to hold what positions in the church. Sounds very pro-“organized religion” to me.


I don’t think Jesus promoted or endorsed any particular sect, like Southern Baptists, Catholics, Calvinists, etc. (though He may have . . . I’m nowhere near as versed on the Bible as some are here.)

Now granted, a lot of the sects today were not in existence back then, but there WERE some sects in those days (like Essenes referred to in the Dead Sea Scrolls, I think), and I don’t think he endorsed ANY of them.

Interestingly, some sects today claim they were in fact endorsed and are the “right” sect, the form of endorsement being deductive, in the sense that, "The Bible says <this>, therefore we were endorsed as the “right” religion . . . ". That’s a bit of an incredulous stretch AFAIC.

As I said, I don’t think He endorsed or promoted any particular “organized” sect, whether it existed then or now.


This is true, He would not have said the Catholics are right, or the Baptists are right - but I believe He would have urged people to attend church services, and work in the service of the church - even though the religious leaders of His day were hypocrites, he still attended the synagogue regularly, and even participated. Remember when He read and spoke on Isaiah 61?


The more interesting question isn’t whether Jesus was “for” or “against” organized religion, but rather whether organized religion, with its dogmas and creeds, fundamentally distorts who Jesus really was. Are the teachings of Jesus more easily understood and meaningful if they are not filtered through the fog of that dogma?


The word “Church” means “Body”.

Jesus established a “Body” of believers specific to the purpose of them working together toward the common family goal (as defined by the “head” who is Jesus) of being salt and light in the world.

Without congregating this is not possible, each Christian would be operating alone as one single body part without the other necessary parts.

This is why Christians are told specifically to “Not forsake the gathering of believers”, there are also many other reasons like the input from others to help discern which “inspirations” are from God and which have another source (Do not believe every spirit, test the spirit’s).

The God of the Bible is a God of Law, order and reason; everything observable in his creation and revealed in his word screams this so it makes perfect sense and is perfectly consistent that he wants us to organize.

That does not however mean that God approves of everything that has ever been organized in his name.

That which is of Christ is incorruptible and that which is of the flesh is wholly corrupt, the level of organization does not change any part of that.


So you don’t think he’d be against such large institutions as Methodist, catholic etc etc.

I want your opinion based on scriptures, even I can see the taboo of speaking for Jesus.

Intrinsically, no. For some of the things they teach and do, yes. And for some of what passes as leadership, yes.

The New Testament focuses most of its attention on the local congregation, and for a very practical reason. That’s where the believers are. The Christian life starts with the individual - acknowledging one’s sin and placing one’s faith in what Jesus did to pay for those sins. Living and growing in the Christian life is best done in community. A literally isolated believer can learn and live their life in a godly way, but in community, in the church, one can learn all the better in mutual teaching and serving. Refining what RET posted above, “church” means an assemblage called together for a purpose. The Greek word was a general purpose word that fit what Jesus wanted His followers to do/be. Probably THE classic passages about how the local congregation should function are 1 Corinthians 12:4-30 and Ephesians 4:11-16.

The NT has less to say about church organization beyond the local level, but is not silent. Acts 15 illustrates this, a gathering of leaders in Jerusalem to deal with an issue troubling congregations throughout the church. Almost the entire NT - the Epistles and the Revelation - is predicated on certain leaders having authority beyond a local congregation. Most of Paul’s letters were written to congregations in cities, congregations he founded. BUT his letter to the Galatians is written to a region he had never visited, and his letters to Timothy and Titus include his instructions concerning the doings in various congregations, some of which he had little or nothing to do with founding. The letters of James, Peter, John (particularly the first, longest, one) and Jude are addressed to Christians generally, and the Revelation was originally written to several churches in what is now western Turkey.


What was the Hebrew Faith, a mega-Church for all the people with synagogues for the local Worship and Teaching. God INSTITUTED corporate Worship. God Called for the Pilgrimage of the men to Jerusalem for specific Rites and Feasts.
God Still looks for the Corporate Worship of His Children. Denominations have nothing to do with it.
Now for the New Testament Church, The early Church in Jerusalem was made up of literally thousands, and as the Roman and Jewish Purges moved forward, the Jerusalem Church broke apart and with Paul , Pater, and other Apostles, little home cells were formed which grew into larger congregate bodies. What Paul, Peter, James and other Apostles railed against was the infiltration of Jewish troublemakers, Greek gnostics, and internal self doubt. All of these disturbances aided in spoiling many young parishes. If you look at revelations note the seven Churches and their issues as Jesus addressed them for their failures.
It is in the Corporate Worship that God IS Worshipped, the gathering of the Believers lifting Hearts and Minds in Loving obedience, offering Prayers and Petitions, offering Sacrifices of Praise, of Substance, of self.


Bulls why not see what the first students of the apostles were taught?
Ignatius of Antioch (student of the apostle John)
Polycarp (student of the apostle John )
And clement of Rome (student of Peter and Paul)

We’re they taught by the apostles to be for or against organized religion?
The apostles entrusted their students with spreading the good news.
How did they protect these teachings from falling into heretical ways?

Did they teach organized religion with a hierarchal structure or were they against organized religion.This is the best way to know if Jesus was for or against organized religion .Most people seem to just skip over their readings.Go through them and you will have your answer.

Rememeber they were alive during the time of the apostles, were their student and knew them personally. The apostles picked them to pass the teachings of Christ down to the next generation of Christians after them like Justin martyr, irenaeus and origin. These early Christians guarded these teachings with their life and also fought against heretical teachings like docetism, and Arianism .


As I mentioned earlier, Paul (and I think Peter & James, also) described standards for church leaders. If you don’t have organization, you don’t have leaders. There are actually some denominations that claim to not believe in organized religion, but they are well organized themselves. They have a hierarchy of leadership, but since they don’t believe in “organized religion,” they don’t have church membership. But they take counts of the people attending church and Sunday school.


Correct Susanna, that was exactly the point I was trying to make :slight_smile:
Religion was organized even from the first Christians, even from the students of the apostles. People who say Jesus didnt believe in organized religions havent read what the Christians were taught to believe from the very beginning of Christianity.


The very beginning of the church came about by a command from Jesus:

(Luke 24:49) And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. (KJV)

There were 120 people there. In fact, the first order of “business” (organization?) was to select a replacement for Judas.


That is a point I frequently make during debates. When I ask certain theists to show me where particular doctrines are taught in the Judeo-Christian Bible, I am presented either with verses that are not saying what the other person claims the verse is saying, or else I am provided with quotations of the personal philosophies of the the early “Fathers.”


I may misunderstand him (and he can correct/clarify my impression), A2E, but I understand Jazz from other contexts here to believe that portions of the New Testament itself distort who Jesus was/did/taught.

From my perspective, the Bible is the primary source/standard for Christian teaching and practice. Other teachers - traditions, individuals, organizations - have secondary, derivative, limited authority. Not that my perspective is unique or peculiarly insightful.


That’s not what I came away with from what Jazzhead wrote. He specifically referred to “dogmas and creeds” that distort what Jesus actually taught in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Dogmas and creeds are only found in writings outside the Bible (e.g. the “Apostles” Creed) and are mostly based upon the speculations and personal philosophies of religious leaders and the early Church “Fathers” aka the Christianized Romans.

I agree with that totally. I will take it a step further by adding that if a Christian doctrine is not support by scriptures within God’s inspired word, the Bible, it should be rejected as false religious teaching.


That’s not what I came away with from what Jazzhead wrote. He specifically referred to “dogmas and creeds” that distort what Jesus actually taught in the Judeo-Christian Bible. Dogmas and creeds are only found in writings outside the Bible (e.g. the “Apostles” Creed) and are mostly based upon the speculations and personal philosophies of religious leaders and the early Church “Fathers” aka the Christianized Romans.

Jazz and I have been on RO for about 3 years, and have known each other online for much longer than that. That is what I referred to when I said, “I understand Jazz from other contexts here …”.

Having been raised in the Lutheran Church, I am familiar with the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed. They are intended to be summaries of essential teachings of the scriptures. A Catholic would have to explain whether and what degree of authority Catholics ascribe to those creeds. Such creeds were part of what I had in mind when I posted the words, “secondary, derivative, limited”. They are useful as brief summaries, to the degree they reflect the teaching of the Bible.

I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Apostles Creed. I believe you are either one of Jehovah’s witnesses, or influenced by Watchtower teachings. I infer that from your use of the New World Translation for that quote from Psalm 83. Were you to read the Apostles Creed, I do not think there’s much in it with which you would disagree (especially if you understand that “catholic” means universal, all Christian believers throughout all time, rather than specifically and only the organization headquartered in Rome). The Nicene Creed … well Arianism was one of the issues before the Council of Nicaea, so one who accepted the Watchtower’s teachings about the nature of God would disagree with much of that.

As for those sometimes called “Church Fathers”, they were teachers in the early Christian church whose writings were preserved for expressing their understanding of Christianity well. I respect them as I would, for example, C. S. Lewis or Chuck Colson. They were Christian teachers, but finite and imperfect.


I realize you are referring to “other context here,” meaning other conversations you have had over the years with Jazzhead. However, what Jazzhead wrote at Post 8 gave me the understanding that he/she was talking about dogmas and creeds as opposed to actual Bible teachings. I could be wrong, since I don’t know Jazzhead as well as you do. So I will leave that topic alone and allow Jazzhead to clarify what he/she meant at Post 8.