The Problem With “Spiritual but Not Religious”

By David Qaoud - Posted at Gospel Relevance:

“I’m spiritual but not religious.” Have you heard that expression before? I recently had a conversation with someone about faith. After a delay to articulate his beliefs, someone nearby helped by saying, “spiritual but not religious.” “Yeah,” he said, “I’m spiritual but not religious.” This is a common phrase, but it abounds with many faults.

Honesty is attractive. When talking with someone else about faith who doesn’t hold my views, I would much rather hear someone say, “Look, man. I don’t believe in God at all,” than for them to come up with a religious-sounding statement in order to appease my question.

But an honest statement is not always an accurate one. What does someone mean when they use this oft-familiar phrase? Usually, what they mean is that they have a personal one-on-one relationship with God, but they don’t want anything to do with organized religion. They hold to a form of spirituality, but their spirituality is subjective, based on their feelings and needs, and requires no external commitment to others. They decide the rules of what spirituality looks like and can break and bend them however they see fit. It is a commonly adapted phrase in a culture dominated by expressive individualism.


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