Spirituality or religion?

A new poll from LifeWay Research found that 72 percent of Millennials — those 18 to 29 years old — call themselves spiritual but not religious. And while 65 percent of those surveyed called themselves Christians, they rarely pray, read the Bible or go to church.

Fewer than half say that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Some clergy believe it’s the end of the church world as we know it. Others believe that this new spiritual approach can ease the conflicts between religions.

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, says the poll shows the so-called “Oprah effect” on religion, where faith becomes another technique for self-improvement.

“It’s this generic secular spirituality for the common good,” he said. That kind of approach to spirituality clashes with traditional Christian teaching, which makes an exclusive claim on salvation.

Stetzer said that the poll also shows a possible future for American religion. Only about 15 percent go to church weekly, read the Bible regularly and are studying theologians.

Some fear religion

Spirituality has its advantages. Religious groups often compete against each other. But spirituality allows people of different faiths to talk to one another.

“People are afraid of religion,” she said. “They aren’t afraid of spirituality.”

Gwendolyn Felder-Brown, a Methodist campus minister, agrees. Until recently, she was director of the Wesley Foundation at Fisk University. That group drew students of all faiths, from Methodist to Muslims, she said. They found common ground by focusing on spirituality.

“They were more interested in developing relationships — between them and God and between each other — more than the answer found in some book,” she said.

Many of the young people he deals with take a buffet approach to faith. They’re comfortable mixing in a variety of beliefs.

“They go out into the marketplace of religious ideas and take parts of each,” he said. “It’s little bit of Jesus, a little bit of Buddha and a little bit of Hinduism.”

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  • Trixie Trueheart

    Reply Reply May 10, 2010

    I refer to myself as being more spiritual than religious because religious practice never did anything for me. Meaning, I didn’t find it comforting, uplifting, or really positive in any way. As a child I was occasionally made (read:forced) to go to church, which ended up driving me away from it instead of towards it. Another factor that turns me off about church is a lot of the hipocrisy I’ve seen in the church and by people who call themselves Christians. I don’t think the problem is people taking a buffet approach to religions, I think it’s people taking a buffet approach to their own religion. For example, many religions teach brotherly love, and acceptance, but many people who follow those religions don’t practice that. In fact, they do the opposite, using their religion as a dividing factor, in stead of a unifying one.

    When I took Philosophy 101 my freshman year of college I was introduced to many religions, many of which I had never heard of before, and a lot of what I learned about those different religions make sense to me. That is why I don’t claim one religion. I don’t think there is only one way to get into heaven. Hell, some days I’m not 100% sure Heaven exist. I think the most important aspect of one’s spirituality is their relationship with whatever higher power or force or what-have-you that brings them peace and comfort. That’s what it’s about to me. I think church/mosque/temple is great for those who believe exclusively in the literature and tenets of those faiths. I see it as a positive to be able to commune with others of a like-mind. I’m just not one of those people.

  • CJ

    Reply Reply May 10, 2010

    I am a Christian. For my perspective, Christians should never consider themselves religious. Religion is man trying to reach God (the Transcendent Truth). A “relationship”, however, is what I believe that God (Father/Son/Holy Spirit) wants from us. And, I truly believe that God was very specific in revealing Himself to the world… and, how that relationship is to be made.

    I sympathize with those that have a hard time with “religion”… MAN is in “religion”… Man will fail, hurt feelings, do evil, confuse everyone… The best of Men are Men at best… On behalf of all Christianity, I’d love to apologize for the failings the church has made in hurting those that seek the Truth. I encourage everyone that are seekers to try and meet Jesus.

    I also feel that we must orientate ourselves to Truth, as to not pick and choose what we like and don’t like… But be open to the conviction of who God is and how has He revealed Himself to the world. Some may focus in on the particular language I use when I speak of God. If you disagree, I encourage you (shutting me and the rest of the world out) to ask God… Who are you? Are you (God) specific about it… and how do I get to you?

    I would also submit that EVERY major faith/religion has a point of exclusion if you investigate well enough… It seems that we only focus on Christianity regarding that… Hmm… Additionally, regardless of what you believe or not, there are many wonderful principles that many religions share that can benefit us individually and the world entirely. But, please don’t fall for the trap (again… believe in whatever you believe…) that all religions/faiths are the same. Its just not true… Not enough space to address that. There are tremendous core differences…

    Please consider this… Being “spiritual” may seem very convenient… As I can pick and choose what I don’t like and what I like… There are many, many things about Christianity that I don’t like, disagree with, or just don’t understand… There’s a greek word that – Mysterion. Somethings are a hard and frustrating mystery. And that’s just “keeping it real” with the Lord. …I think He likes when we have issues/problems, even with Him, as long as we dialogue with Him and receive what he says back to us. That’s being SPIRITUAL, for me.

    I invite anyone to pray one simple prayer… The one my father did in prison. “…To Whom it may concern… If you’re real and have a way that you want me to know you… Let a Sister/Brother know!!!”
    Now standby for an answer… And friends, don’t look for that answer to come in the way that you want it or expect it to come.

    God Bless! …and please forgive the typing/grammar…etc. I was typing to fast…

  • MAXMAN

    Reply Reply May 10, 2010

    To the brother that said, “I don’t think there is only one way to get into heaven”. I hope your right for a lot of people. But what does the Word of God have to say about this?

    A Place Called Heaven
    John 14:1-6

    Because mankind is earthbound until death, misconceptions about heaven are common. Some people imagine it as an ethereal world of formless spirits who float about, while others flatly deny its existence. A few have returned from near-death experiences to describe what they saw. Amid all the confusing and contradictory views, we would do well to remember that our only sure source of accurate information about heaven is God’s Word.

    Jesus had firsthand knowledge of heaven because He came from the Father to earth. Shortly before dying, He told His disciples that He would return to His Father’s house to prepare a place for them and then would come back to take them to their new home. Several weeks later, while standing on the Mount of Olives, the disciples watched the resurrected body of Jesus ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9-11).

    Ever since that day, believers throughout history have been waiting for the Lord’s promised return. Each one will be given an immortal resurrection body similar to Christ’s. It will be physical, visible, and recognizable to others. We will even be able to eat (Luke 24:41-43). Heaven is a literal place for physical bodies—a place to live, serve God, and worship and enjoy Him forever.

    Knowing all the specifics of our heavenly home is impossible, but we can be sure that Jesus will fulfill His promise to come back for us. Stepping into our custom-designed dwelling places, we’ll each realize that we’re finally home—and throughout eternity can never be separated from God.

    “God Never makes a Mistake”

  • George Chunn

    Reply Reply May 16, 2010

    The reason I refer to myself as “spiritual” is self explanatory: I am part of God’s living expression that extends beyond physical essence. In my opinion, Religion has a tendency to exert a type of “ownership” of God or “the way”. Therein lies the problem for me. How could we mere mortals, mere specks of dust, through some books or beliefs own The Creator of All Things Seen and Unseen? He owns all of us! NONE OF US would even be here without God. His wisdom surpasses ALL understanding. To me, Religion has been an institution and mechanism used by men to control and exert power over the masses of people. Religions war against each other, killing in the name of God, The Giver of Life. Please. All the religions have done it, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, you name it… They all will kill in the name of God. Thanks but I prefer to not be associated with such. I’m spiritual. Please don’t kill me for my opinion.

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