A recent article on CNN Belief Blog “My Take: ‘I’m spiritual but not religious’ is a copout“, addresses the growing number of people who are choosing belief structures outside of the institutional church model. In his writing, the author seems to present the premise that those who call themselves ‘spiritual but not religious’ are deluding themselves with the notion that they have discovered a deeper more profound experience than those who align with traditional organized institutions; and that they are fair-weather believers, faltering in the face of modern science who choose not to associate themselves with the social negativity of mainstream Christianity or willing to accept the consequences of the rules established by doctrines.
In his article he states, “The trouble is that “spiritual but not religious” offers no positive exposition or understanding or explanation of a body of belief or set of principles of any kind.”
And he asks, “What is it, this “spiritual” identity as such? What is practiced? What is believed?”
As someone who identifies with being spiritual but not religious, here is my answer:
My spiritual practice is to diligently seek to know the truth of God within my own soul and not within the biased interference of someone else’s opinion. My doctrine is to treat my neighbor as myself, to be kind, compassionate and tolerant toward others who are dissimilar to me. The positive exposition that my ‘spiritual but not religious’ belief provides is that I don’t hate other people; I don’t consider others subpar if they disagree with me; I don’t deliver my political preferences as the intent of God; I don’t merely mouth my faith; I am not a Sunday only hypocrite; I know that I am subject to be wrong and admit it when I am; and I do not loftily exalt myself into the position of telling others that I know what God wills, thinks or intends for the purpose of their lives.
In calling myself Christian I am saying that I follow the path of Christ, and that is all. But with all of the diverse negativity associated with being perceived as a Christian I choose to refer to myself as spiritual and to not put myself in the position of defending all that is amiss in Christianity.
If someone has the perception of a Christian as a detestable perpetuator of social and political agendas or the perception of a Christian as a person who is compassionate, kind and tolerant of others, whether or not I am perceived as a Christian will be determined by the way I live my life.
The author may hold the opinion of “spiritual but not religious” believers as somehow illegitimate or faltering in some way, but there is this saying about opinions….
And that is the biggest problem in the whole of Christianity, the notion that if you disagree with me or if you do not do as I do then you are misguided, lacking in substance or otherwise inferior.
I choose not to be a member of that exclusive club.