When I was trucking about 10 years ago these words came to me while in a local town in NC. I was noticing how religious all the drivers were when it dawned on me how odd the thought was, seeing I was not in a religious setting. That is when I heard, “The spirit of religion is the spirit of the world.” In fact, everywhere (whether we know it or not) is a potential religious setting. Religion and the world (in a “secular” sense) are products of the same motivation, the same presupposition, if you will. The worldly make attempts to find their own way in life and so do the religious. Neither is how God has determined (which is by faith). Both are by works and self-satisfaction (which has nothing to do with faith). And both, logically, ultimately have their own gods.
Religion is the counterfeit to the necessity of faith instituted at the Cross of Christ. It neither needs a living savior nor does it take into account the human frailty. The so-called (or supposed) irreligious – the worldly – are under the same delusion. They, too, reject the theology of the cross. Without Christ there is a lack of faith and a lack of urgency identifying a need for said savior. Even more interesting, because of the lack of faith, both grope on opposite ends of the same darkness, both have self-made symbols and signs of vitality, and both are hopelessly and helplessly locked in a vicious cycle.
The seducer that withholds truth from the world is the self-same seduction that manipulates the religious. For both, an idol is made of the appetite – whatever is pleasing in my sight; whatever in sight that pleases me. Either has a god (or gods) that are fashioned after their own image. Each is able to practice self-denial, and each does it for self-satisfaction. One is a form of slavery, the other bondage. The two are bloated with self-help, and self-destruction.
By design, the only escape from this spirit is by faith; a “religionless Christianity” (Bonhoeffer).