“I hate religious people.”
It’s one thing to hear this from an atheist. It’s another when I hear it from an evangelical Christian (who shouldn’t be hating anybody in the first place). The sentiment is a hallmark of a thinned-out and trendy pop-Christianity that wants a religion without the religion part.
I usually get the sense that what they are clumsily saying is that they are fine with Jesus, just not with having any set of beliefs about Him.
They want to “follow Jesus,” but want to remain completely open about who Jesus was, what He asked us to do and where He is leading us. Which, of course, renders the act of “following Jesus” completely meaningless and impossible. And to the extent that they do agree to a set belief about Jesus (or anything metaphysical really) – to that extent – they’ve become a religious person. There’s no getting around it.
Unfortunately, when left to themselves, they’ve simply created their own religion that is right where they are already right. And based upon beliefs that change at the convenience of their whim. This is not a denial of self, it’s an indulgence of it. They make Jesus in their own image instead of conforming themselves into His. Religion is what, first, tells us what that Divine Image looks like and then, second, gives us the means of conforming to it.
In truth, religion and Jesus (God) are all wrapped up together. If you want your religion to be fully true, you need Jesus. If you want to know Jesus, know the religion that he founded – his body and bride the Church. As soon as a person tries to have one without the other, they end up with neither.