Being ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ Does Not Work
One phrase I frequently hear from non-Christians is, ‘I’m spiritual, but not religious.’ This might be translated as following: I have a general interest in who God is, but don’t see the need to exclusively identity with a particular religion or religious perspective. What usually results is a mixture of various beliefs from different religions: karma from Buddhism, universalism from paganism, moralism from works-based religion. Often, individuals who hold this view (mixture of beliefs from different worldviews accompanied with a refusal to identify with one position) self-identify as having “no religion”–a growing segment in our society identified by sociologists as ‘religious nones.’ While this may seem foreign to the Christian, it is a very common today. Many around us hold this viewpoint: family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.
The problem with this approach is that it does not work. To be truly spiritual is to be in a relationship with the God of the universe. It is to know, enjoy, and experience God in a true way that accords with reality. But to do this requires actual information about who God is. We have to know answers these questions: What is God like? What has God done? What is God doing? What does God think of me? If a person is merely ‘spiritual but not religious,’ how will he or she possess actual answers to any of these questions? Won’t one inevitably end up with conflicting reports, by holding to different religions? Isn’t it possible that some of these religions might even misrepresent God?
Thus, what we need is true knowledge about God, knowledge that accurately portrays who God is. The Christian claims that God has given us this definitively in the Bible. While we claim that this knowledge is not comprehensive, we understand it to be true and accurate. Here we learn about God’s character, His actions, what He loves, what He hates, and how we might be under His good favor. This is what we need if we are to truly be ‘spiritual.’ We need a revelation of God found in the Bible.