Yesterday I began read Timothy Keller new book The Reason for God: Belief in the Age of Skepticism (R4G). Keller is a pastor in New York's hip Manhattan of a church of 5000 people--mostly young and single. Keller's church is not a typical seeker-sensitive megachurch but a church that focus on sound preaching that centers on Gospel-believing and living (which permeates all of life).
The book is an apologetic of the Christian faith and he begins by discussing the criticism of Christianity and religion in general--that it brings war and strife and world peace will never be possible while it remains in this world. He warns of the slippery slope of religion:
It is widely believed that one of the main barriers to world peace is religion, and especially the major traditional religions with their exclusive claims to superiority. It may surprise you that though I am a Christian minister I agree with this. Religion, generally speaking, tends to create a slippery slope in the heart. Each religion informs its followers that they have "the truth," and this naturally leads them to feel superior to those with differing beliefs. Also, a religion tells its followers that they are saved and connected to God by devotedly performing that truth. This moves them to separate from those who are less devoted and pure in life. Therefore, it is easy for one religious group to stereotype and caricature other ones. Once this situation exists it can easily spiral down into the marginalization of others or even to active oppression, abuse, or violence against them.
I like how he gives a practical description of "religion" -- "religion informs its followers that they have the 'truth,' and this natural leads them to feel superior...religion tells its followers that they are saved and connected to God by devotedly performing the truth."
Religion does this but not true Christianity. He spells out the difference later on at the end of chapter (which I plan to blog later on). The Gospel of Jesus does not move us toward a feeling of superiority because it is not about our performance of the truth but of the Truth's performance (namely on the cross) for our failures and sin that sets us free and gives us life.