a meditation on Galatians 4:21 – 5:1

“These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom . . . but are of no value.”  (Colossians 2:23)

“Let them alone.  They are blind leaders of the blind.” (Matthew 14:14)


Religion is the rope

Which holds in Hell’s tow

Souls of damned millions

Who vainly hope

To tug themselves by it

Into Paradise.


Which may find issue

In the ceremonial censer, or

In the doctrinal scroll, or

In the tablets of moral precept, or

In cloudy experiments of eternity supposed.


Ceremonial Religion!

Ritual acts:

Sacrifices to appease

Or to please (God, of course),

To placate the Deity,

Soothe His hurtful wrath,

Show devotion, and bask

In the benefits of a god who remains

So immanently and visibly Controllable;

Ritual acts:

Hideous or beautiful

Babbling or content full,

But which keep the soul in chains.

Guilt remains, sin still reigns,

God is Justice far away and not brought near,

And there is no salvation.


Doctrinal Religion!

(Is there a Doctrine in the house?)


Knowledge, reason to be proud;

And Philosophy (ahem):

“Skilled navigation of metaphysical labyrinths”;

And Scholarship, hairsplitting precision;

And Theology, the vocabulary of God,

The theoretical ability to count

The angels on the head of any pin.

Understanding—which may be

Simple or Complex,

Rational or Mystic,

Self-evident or Obscure,

Straight-down-the-pike, faithful and true, or

Blithering away in the dark wood of irrelevancy,

But which will not loosen the binding cords.

Guilt remains, sin still reigns,

He Who Is is still Unknown,

And there is no salvation.


Moral Religion!

Right living by a Standard:

(Or is it living by a Right Standard?  Whatever!)

Righteous works, sound character,

Accomplishing Good in the world.

Right living by a Standard (or vice versa)—which may be

Manmade, or of God, or the Devil,

Detailed or Basic, Nitpicking or Elemental,

Wholesome or Corrupt, Sufficient or Deficient,

Efficient or Superfluous,

On a scale from One to Ten;

But whose deeds will not earn freedom.

How much moral soap is enough

To wash clean the Indelible Stain?

Guilt remains, sin still reigns,

The wages still are death,

And there is no salvation.


Experimental Religion!

Experience of the spirit:

When in the course of human events

Events occur outside the course,

And faith gets placed in a basket of internal Assurances

That once-for-all happenings will

Shuffle the subjective Subject into Heaven.

Experiences—which may be

High or Deep, Elevating or Depressing,

Cosmically Transcendent or Rapturously Immanent;

Blessed or Woeful, agony or allegory,

Mystically mysterious, weepingly delirious,

Private or Public, Domestic or Communal,

A Rhapsody in black-and-white or Technicolorâ.

It may indeed be Ecstasy,

But it will not lift the soul from hellish Prison.

Guilt remains, sin still reigns,

The Heart’s unchanged,

And there is no salvation.


But looking unto JESUS…

“Behold the Man,”

And see a Ceremony

On a cross on Skull Hill,

Both hideous and beautiful,

Conquering our hate of God

By His Love for us.

Receive His Truth

And learn a Doctrine

Both simple and unfathomable,

Self-evident yet hidden,

With testimony of a great cloud more

Than two or three in confirmation

Of the News of Grace.

Follow Him

And find a Standard

(Plenty to do without picking nits)

Of Love owed God

And Neighbor and Brother,

Of an eternal Kingdom to seek.

Embrace His Wounds

And Experience Eternity,

The Resurrection from the dead

The unseen invasion of Grace, Peace,

Love, Life, Joy, Hope—selah—


His Freedom.

“And if the Son shall make you free,

You shall be free indeed.”

No guilt remains, sin no longer reigns,

The Soul is brought near to God,

The Mind knows its Source,

The Will works in Grace,

The Heart is changed,

And we are Saved

Through Faith

In the Son

For Ever!




 c. 2008 by Garry D. Nation.  All rights reserved.

"The Pharisee and the Publican"

Gustave Dore