Spiritual Or Religious?
"You shall not do at all what we are doing here today, every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes.” Dt. 12:8.
The article below (highlighted section my focus) troubles me - not by what it actually says, but by the way such things are often perceived and then promoted - as there is thinking among Christians today that pits them against one another, further still than all the divisions already present.
Those who have become "unchurched" (in the sense of no longer "going to church") seem to have a low regard for people who still attend a brick and mortar church. And vice versa. There’s condescension in both camps, and the former seem to regard themselves as "spiritual" while others beneath them (in their opinion) are regarded as merely “religious.” I’ve been around both.
It's the either/or mindset out there today that troubles me. Hopefully there will come a day when the household of God will be that in which its "children of all ages" will realize that they all have a place at the table in the House of the Lord.
Maybe those who see themselves as “mature sons" might need to consider sticking around and be examples to, rather than critics of, those they regard as “children,” rather than making a run for it, or running away from home, since they are so obviously enlightened. What kind of household, after all, is it where its "older" mature children condemn and pick on the "younger", or decide that because "they are not mature, so I will leave them"?
My conclusion: Get over the semantics and the antics. Be yourself mature. Love and listen to one another; you just might learn something. Find value in ancient tradition, liturgy, and the beautiful old hymns, and appreciate them; honor them. In a sense this is much like adherence to the commandment to "Honor your father and mother, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth.”
And so very often, those who are quick to condemn those who “go to church” and what the Bible has to say are very frequently those whose shadows never darken a church doorway, nor do they read or study the Bible, which they also criticize, but instead “look within” for what they call "light".
This would not be their view if they actually read and understood what the Bible says about the “heart” they advocate for following: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. These are what defile a man…” Mt 15:19,20. And “The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” Jer 17:9.
Believe me, I was in this “follow your heart” camp myself for quite awhile. So I’m not speaking from mere opinion.
This begs the question, who is the more mature after all - those who think themselves spiritual and regard the others as immature and religious, or the other way around? If the Apostles were to look down from heaven and see what is going on today among the churches, one wonders what sort of eye rolling and face palming there would be, even amidst the joys on high, amongst those who've actually been perfected in Christ?
(PS / Afterthought: I'm not advocating for "unity" at the cost of truth.)
Remarks above based on highlighted underlined remarks from T. Austin-Sparks article below from:
Christ the Power of God - Chapter 4
“The Holy Spirit points out that the way into the true Holy of Holies is not yet thrown open as long as the former tabernacle remains a recognized institution and is still standing... For Christ (the Messiah) has not entered into a sanctuary made with human hands, only a copy and pattern and type of the true one, but He has entered into heaven itself. (Hebrews 9:8,24 AMP) Fellowship with God must be of that kind, that whether we can go to meetings or not, we still have the Lord; whether we have nice soulish music or not, we still have the Lord. You are not in that realm: "Neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem...." Bricks and mortar cannot communicate with spirit. Man's soul can communicate with God only through the vehicle of his spirit in union with God. That is what Calvary has done. You can understand now, of course, why the message of the Cross is unacceptable... and that, because of this strong cleaving to a historic, traditional inheritance, you will be outside the camp if you are going to proclaim it and stand for it. And, too, the awful thing is this – that Satan has taken hold of the Divine representation, or typical system, to appropriate it, when God has done away with it, and that what God brought in for a temporary purpose he has captured for himself in order to obscure the real nature of fellowship with God.
Now no one will think that I am saying that there are no spiritual people in that system of things. I am not saying that; but I am saying that if that represents for them their spiritual life – if they must have that, if that is the realm in which they live... that they do not see beyond that and are not free from that as a thing in itself – then they have missed the meaning of Calvary, and they are bound to miss all the meaning of Christ crucified – the wisdom and the power of God.
Wrestling with principalities and powers wants something more than a system of external things. You see, we are up against a terrific business; we are up against a spiritual opposition which is colossal, and only a spiritual position is adequate to that – nothing less. We do not want to be in any position less than the Lord's first and best for us. The toys, the picture books, the illustrations, the symbols, the types are for children who have little intelligence; they are taken away at a certain time when God is out to have, not children but sons; and there is all the difference between the two. And so Calvary dismisses the kindergarten of external things in relation to God and brings in the fullness of heavenly order so as to make of us full-grown sons of God. May we be so!”
Yes, spiritual wrestling does want something more than “a system of external things,” Mr. Sparks. It requires life within the body of Christ, not a life of unscriptural thinking and being a stand alone, dining on a smorgasbord religion pieced together from Eastern mysticism, indigenous traditions, New Age, New Thought, and every other popular thing out there and calling yourself a Christian - which is where the “homeless Christian” viewpoint will almost inevitably wind up, because it is not grounded in anything but faith in itself, which is not the faith of Jesus Christ.