The Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Now, what about truth as a duty in our Christian societies? As everybody knows, Christianity is a confession. This means that Christianity belongs to a very special type of religion—those which impose obligations of truth on the practitioners. Such obligations in Christianity are numerous. For instance, there is the obligation to hold as truth a set of propositions that constitute dogma, the obligation to hold certain books as permanent source of truth, and obligations to accept the decisions of certain authorities in matters of truth. But Christianity requires another form of truth obligation. Everyone in Christianity has the duty to explore who he is, what is happening within himself, the faults he may have committed, the temptations to which he is exposed. Moreover, everyone is obliged to tell these things to other people, and thus to bear witness against himself. — Michel Foucault

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves. For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror; for they look at themselves and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like. — James 1:22–24

What is true religion?

I hear quite regularly my fellow Christians saying things like, “That isn’t true Christianity!” or “They aren’t really Christian if they…” or “Real Christianity looks like…” I am always baffled by such statements—mainly for two reasons. The first is the assumption of the competency to make such declarations individually, while the Church’s historical pattern has been to seek to determine these things in council together. The second is the usual lack of scriptural support for the assertion.

Let me be clear. Such statements are not always inappropriate. Truth presupposes falsehood and therefore discernment is needed to know the difference. This Sunday I’d like to consider what James, that great pillar of the Church (Galatians 2:9) and brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3) has to say about true religion. For him, true religion is inseparable from truth-telling and truth-being. It is a process of becoming true more than possessing the truth—which for him, even the demons can do (2:19).

See you on Sunday!




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