News • February 27, 2023

Canadian author talks about what good religion looks like

Canadian author talks about what good religion looks like

Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 27, 2023) – Dr. Mariam Kovalishyn, a Canadian author and professor, shared with the audience how the gospel transforms religion while speaking for the School of Christian Ministries Lecture Series at California Baptist University on Feb. 23.

“Any empty religion that refuses to follow God’s ways inherently leads people to become empty themselves,” she said. “While there is this empty and futile religion, there is also good and true religion.”

Kovalishyn is an associate professor of New Testament at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. She has co-authored a commentary on the book of James and has written and contributed to many books.

The word “religion” can be seen in a negative context, Kovalishyn said. Through exploring the book of James she found that true religion – life in Christ – leads us to become more like God.

“My goal is actually to show you that there is such a thing as good religion,” Kovalishyn said. “That is something that stems from the very character of God.”

Religion can include the fullness of God, citing Paul’s language from Ephesians 3:19, she said. Good religion shows itself in purity of heart and wealth.

“We reveal the character of God who is shown (in the Bible) to be good,” Kovalishyn said. “Generous, engaged, forgiving and merciful. God is good.”

Religion leads to true image bearing, Kovalishyn said.

“We become the image bearers we were made to be when we worship God as we ought to,” she said. “Religion is not necessarily bad, but whether it is filled with self-deception or God’s character makes all the difference.”

James 1:26-27 states if someone thinks themselves to be religious the focus is on themselves, and that is a problem, Kovalishyn said.

“The true religious person in the positive sense is full of the acts and the character of God,” Kovalishyn said. “Their focus is no longer on themselves, and that’s a major pattern in James.”

Believers need to focus on the faithfulness of God, rather than their own standing, Kovalishyn said.

“Good religion isn't simply about doing enough things or proving one is worthy by being passionate enough,” Kovalishyn said. “God is calling us to be conformed to His character, conformed to His image, and He's given us a new birth and implanted His word within us to make this possible.”

The lecture series provides an opportunity for students, alumni, faculty members, pastors and guests to learn from leading evangelical scholars who use their academic expertise to serve the church.

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