It is very popular for Christians to deny that Christianity is a religion. They will say that religion is humanity seeking God and Christianity is God seeking humanity. They will say that religion is the way of death and Christianity is the way of life. Christianity is a relationship and not a religion.
That is fine except that Christianity sure looks like a religion. In fact it looks more like a religion than Buddhism does. Christianity has a deity, forms of worship, moral codes and so on. Many of the things that we find in other religions are also found in Christianity.
I think what most people are saying is that Christianity is true and all the other religions are false. That is fine and I agree with that statement. But we need to be clear that Christianity is the true religion among false religions and yet it is still a religion. If Christianity emerged from a religion called Judaism, then Christianity must still be a religion.
Why is this distinction between Christianity and religion so popular? My theory is that it comes from people who have transitioned from mainline churches to evangelical churches. I am not saying that all mainline churches are dead or all evangelical churches are alive, but enough people have experienced that to give it some truth. People identify the rituals and liturgy of mainline churches as worship and the born again experience with evangelical churches. Of course there is a blurring of the lines these days as evangelicals are rediscovering liturgy.
Still, I am not sure why we can’t just accept that Christianity is a religion. It is the true religion. It is the best religion. It is the Christ-filled religion. But it is a religion.