Thursday, September 20, 2012

Religious versus Spiritual

I have never liked the whole religion vs. spirituality discussion. It is unhelpful to have discussions of this sort when terms are not defined. Am I religion? Do I support religion? Well, the answer is "yes" if when you say religion you are using the term the way the puritans used. That is, religion being the proper acting out of the Christian faith. But if you mean religion in the sense of legalism or man-centered pursuit of divinity then no, I'm not into religion.

Kevin DeYoung, in his newest book The Hole in Our Holiness, addresses this situation:

Has there been a phrase more adept at smuggling in doctrinal confusion and moral laxity than the slogan "spiritual, not religious"? Granted, for some people this means, "I want a personal, life-changing relationship with God, not mere church attendance." but more often than not the phrase implies a dislike for theological standards, moral absolutes, and organized religion. Being spiritual in contemporary jargon means you are open to mystery and interested in "spiritual" things like prayer, healing, and inner peace.

True spirituality means being transformed by the Spirit through communion with the Father and Son. If you are interested in spirituality, your priority should be to grow in the holiness that comes from the Spirit. (35)

His point is not to choose sides on the religion/spiritual debate; rather, he draws our attention to the fact that all Christians-religious, spiritual, or otherwise-should be pursuing holiness. All those who follow Christ should be looking to obedience to God as a goal for our times here on earth. I think he's right.

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