Spiritual but not religious

A growing number of Americans seem to identify themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” They go further to clarify that they are “spiritual” but don’t participate in organized religion. The culmination of their experiential faith, i.e. their background, from which they were raised as children, and moral convictions they develop from their teens and onward influence their actions and beliefs.

This my friends is the fruit of Ecumenism, of moral religiosity, the absence of Truth. It is almost glamorous today to say one is “spiritual”. The opposite can be said for those who are perceived as being religious. A stigma exists in which believers/practitioners of organized religion, primarily Christianity, are seen as closed-minded, behind-the-tunes, and even irrelevant. There is a certain attraction to “trying out” strange and even exotic religions to find the right match. It is as if we are shopping for just the right meal to whet our appetite. This sense of relative religiosity does not really differ from the pagan beliefs of old. The philosophers of ancient Athens and Rome would be proud and amazed by such open-mindedness. This comes with a cost as we have reached the insane level of open-mindedess that our brains are beginning to fall out of our heads. 

What possibly can explain this growing trend? We can look at this new/old belief system as the absence of Truth (this is Truth with a capital “T”, Which is Christ) because Ecumenism is absent of Christ. It is a belief filled with “moral relativisms” with the general message preached to all, “it does not really matter what you believe, as long as you believe in something.” This is a very comfortable syncretistic view, combining social activism, moral relativism, with political responsiveness. One could bring this to a logical end concluding that these fools have no hope for eternity so they better enjoy the present.  Amazing to think that all roads, no matter how twisted they might be, lead to the same destination. This is possible if that destination is a dead-end and this truly is the destination of Ecumenism – it most certainly isn’t the truth of Christ.

It is rather unfortunate that this has become a comfortable alternative for a generation sickened over the abuse of religion, in which fringe groups claim that their fanatical views speak for the masses, as we can see with the evangelical voice in politics. Clearly this has resonated in the worst possible way souring many away from Christianity. What was once viewed as a tolerant religion and one of peace, hope, and love has been transformed into quite the opposite.

In the absence of organized religion we see another system of belief rushing in to the fill the void – Socialism. The popular trend in liberal circles is an acknowledgement in the sense of responsibility to take care of those more vulnerable than ourselves, to treat people with respect and to treat others as we would have them treat us. At face value this sounds worthy of praise, even Socrates would totally agree in that society has finally embraced the “Golden rule”. These are nice ideas but they are left too open to personal interpretation. The belief in “treating others you wish to be treated” pails to comparison to what the Saviour taught. In Christ, there is not relativism. The path to salvation is absolute – first, love God with all of your heart, your mind, and your soul; second, love your neighbor. There is nothing relative here. We are commanded to love God with EVERYTHING we have. The writings of the Fathers give us an interesting corollary – “how is it possible to love God when we do not love our neighbor?” This is the most basic principle of the Christian life. Without a love of God, the love of neighbor becomes open to personal interpretation as the true Source of Love, which is God, is missing.

More and more Americans identify as “religiously unaffiliated,” meaning they do not participate in organized faith, though many are still self-reportedly spiritual. One can reason that the lack of participation in organized faith leads to a lack of organized beliefs. Only the Lord knows what goes on in their heads! This social phenomenon does not happen on its own. Finally the offspring of the clergy abuse scandals, and the disgraceful behavior of the televangelists, a la Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, have matured and tainted a generation. This generation has become jaded in their beliefs and passed this religio-apathy on to their children.

Millennials seem to constitute the largest group of these religious “nones.” They are fruit of the free-spirits of the 60’s cultural revolution. Now there is no doubt which side was victorious in that revolution. It is this group that has demonstrated a very loud support for socialist ideals. Socialism is quickly becoming a new deity, comfortably worshiped by this generation. Socialism is the bride of Ecumenism.

Men have sought something foreign to their nature. They have sought to be sons and daughters-of-the-world, and not children of God. They seek to please themselves and not to please God. “How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only.”

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have
eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honour from men.  But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.  I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.  How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is [one] that
accuseth you, [even] Moses, in whom ye trust.  For
had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? John 5:39-47

Indeed, how can we believe when we are so filled with worry. How can we believe when we are so filled with the fallacy of self love. How can we believe when seek the false praise of those who are in the same sorrowful state as ourselves. This lack of association is a lack of commitment; such indecision leads to a “lukewarm” faith. Our Saviour is very, very explicit in His most fearful words issued to the Church of Laodicea in the third chapter of Revelation:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16

Many are they who will not heed these words. This is an uncomfortable truth for them. Our Lord has opened-wide the door for us, asking us only to approach and knock on that door. Though all have been invited, few will answer the invitation. Some will answer with excuses yet others will simply turn away for they have chosen another master.

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have
eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.  I receive not honour from men.  But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. John 5:39-43

How can we define love when we are not allowed to use God in the definition? Who has the authoritative last word? Without God, love is shallow and finite, encloistered in the constraints that each person sets forth. Relative love, relative truth, relative spirituality – they all lead to same relative destination, which is away from Christ.