Death of Religion 2017-21

                                           Death of Religion   2017-21

This may be controversial and debatable as an opinion on where religion is or is going in today’s time frame.

I consider myself religious.  I also consider myself as spiritual. Two different things in relationship to believing in and practicing a faith in a Divinity.

There is a whole spectrum of various things to think about faith, but I will dwell on the two terms used, somewhat, as a means of identification of how people use the words to describe their beliefs.  I will then propose the thought that religion is dying out as a means to pursue the relationship with God.

 Spiritual but not religious” (SBNR) is a popular phrase and initialism used to self-identify a life stance of spirituality that takes issue with organized religion as the sole or most valuable means of furthering spiritual growth. Spirituality places an emphasis upon the well-being of the “mind-body-spirit”, so “holistic” activities such as tai chi, reiki, and yoga are common within the SBNR movement. In contrast to religion, spirituality has often been associated with the interior life of the individual. This, taken from Wikipedia as a reference.  This is not the crux of what I want to discuss.

I make the supposition that religion is, in fact, disappearing in the mainstream of life, worldwide. The actual involvement of having religious feelings is not what it was in the past, and is not a factor for many in their daily lives. Some places actually have an INCREASE in religious furor, to a degree though.

Could it be that we, as a society overall, are becoming more rational in our thinking, more affluent and somewhat secure, more educated and less IN NEED of religion? Will religion become less important in modern societies and lead to secularization of life?  Will the modern world see religion as “just not that important”? That doesn’t mean religion is on its dying gasps of reality though; just a change in perspective of living.

I remember someone I was talking to recently stated, “I am not into religion!  I don’t like someone telling me when to stand up and sit down in a building like a church.” He further stated that “using the word “community” is not my thing.”  I did NOT argue with that person, but would have liked to explain what I thought about church and community. Sometime else for that subject though.

Religion is a manmade entity and not really a direct something from the Holy Spirit.  It coincides with spiritual growth between the person and God.  It involves doing.  You must work at it, it does not JUST HAPPEN.

So, what is happening? Evidence shows that fewer American adults, especially those under thirty, attend church, or even belong to a church. They say NONE, if asked about their religion and actually ignore faith and God as something to think about daily.

The NONE’s are outstripping other faith denominations and following other countries in Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada and other modernized places. We are becoming members of the Secular Age and it is growing. Many factors play a role in the demise of religion.

I read that 10% of adults in the U.S. are ex-Catholics, the biggest denomination in the country. The NONE’s are working at becoming the majority group at 25%,  outstripping the Catholics (21%) and evangelicals (16%).

 

WHY? Why is this happening? If you an intelligent person, which includes most of us hopefully, we have problems with religious thinking and beliefs.  I do not, but some of us do!!!!!!!!!!!!

It’s less than plausible to believe in invisible gods, devils, heavens, hells, angels, demons — plus virgin births, resurrections, miracles, messiahs, prophecies, faith-healings, visions, incarnations, divine visitations and other supernatural claims.  Magical thinking is suspect, ludicrous.  It’s not for intelligent, educated people.  I believe that those that feel this way, think religion is dying due to what they feel are false, dishonest or untrue statements, that they are expected to follow without thought. 

They do not want to consider why we are here, and why the universe is made up the way it is or even if there is a purpose in life other than just living then dying and being buried.

 New scientific wonders have set the scene for a “death of a thousand cuts”, and have slowly diminished religion by extending death itself and easing our fear of mortality. Why worry about death if it lingers on? Why worry about religion that is a far reaching non-entity of life?

I am religious. I am spiritual. I am a believer of the Triune God of the Father, the Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. There IS a God and He is Alive, He is Aware, He is Active and He is Present around and within me.  So be it!!!!!!!!!!!!   I believe, and in the belief, I am.  I welcome your comments here or at bettsden@gmail.com

                       Den Betts

Spiritual But Not Religious 2015-16

Spiritual But Not Religious    2015-16

I found out that the title is sometimes abbreviated with SBNR, so will use it here. There has been so much written about this subject that I do not feel the need to expound on it too much. I have stated before that I believe I am both religious and spiritual, and maintain that thought.

To those that feel that they are just spiritual and not religious, they would have to explain what they mean as it pertains to them personally. I have heard some of those that are religious in nature; say the spiritual only crowd is just too lazy to go to church. I do NOT feel that way, due to the fact that they, the religious ones, do not KNOW how the spiritual only people really feel.  In many cases, that is one of the problems with some of the religion oriented ones and how they think.

I am reading a book by the Barna Group about the unchurched that I will mention in the future, because it may address the SBNR topic. It is FULL of percentages and numbers that will boggle the mind, and I will not do that, but instead, use some to make a point only. The first chapter is interesting and I am getting much out of it, in the reading.  Back to SBNR!

Churchless!

In the book “Churchless” by the authors from Barna, an interesting bit of info, is the fact that many of the unchurched adults have considerable past experience with Christianity and Christian churches. Many of them, in fact, the majority, were raised with significant periods of church attendance and were engaged with churches sometime during their adult lives.

Most of the Spiritual only group that is comprised of the unchurched adults, say they pray to God during a typical week, in a one way conversation, and most think that God does not speak to them, with only 1/6 thinking He does.

I am not unchurched and go to church on a regular basis. I do so for many reasons and am comfortable with going.  Our church is welcoming to all, or at least I think that is the case. I say that because I was asked if this was so and was questioned with, “Are we welcoming to ALL”, and the conversation went from there as to what ALL meant.  I do recall a “bag lady” coming to our church and there was talk about her and I thought “So what” if she came; she might have had a need that we or the church could fulfill.

Hypocritical

I would think, that thought would lead into the word “Judgment” to a degree and what it means to some. It can also be thought that one of the biggest objections about church going people by the Spiritual or unchurched ones, is the fact that they think the church going ones are so danged full of hypocrisy. Church people say one thing and do another it is said or things like that. I remember hearing from someone that stated that, and I told that person, there are many hypocrites out there in the world including unchurched ones. It IS a difficult subject and has many parts to it to contemplate.

So, in my mind that is not a good defense of not going to church, and stating they are spiritual in nature and don’t go to church for only that reason. Hypocrites are everywhere including church and prejudiced people are also everywhere that have different thoughts.

Nuff for now. I could go on, but think I will save some thoughts for later under a different subject. Your comments are welcome at any time.

Den Betts

Spiritual Discipline Practices 2014-27

Spiritual Discipline Practices  2014-27

What exactly is Spiritual Discipline in relation to Christianity? Let’s start first with the dictionary explanation of the word discipline itself:

Discipline:  An activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill or behavior in accordance with a rule or regulation.  Do you think we are basically disciplined in our lives?

The classical Disciplines of the spiritual life call us to move beyond surface living with rules, and into the depths of inward thinking. We will try to define these in a moment. The Spiritual Disciplines invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm of our mind.  I thought that was so cool when I read it. So that brings us to the word Spiritual.

Define Spiritual!  What do   YOU   think the word Spiritual actually means?

The dictionary states that the word spiritual is pertaining to sacred things or matters such as those being religious or to the spirit as the seat of the moral or religious nature; or belonging to the church, or just plain pertaining to the soul or spirit or God.

From here we glean what a Spiritual Discipline may be or its purpose of liberating us from the stifling slavery of self-interest and fear in living our daily lives to instead being one with God forever. These are words from the author, Richard Foster in his book “Celebration of Disciplines”. He has emphasized that Christian meditation focuses not of the emptying of the mind or self, but rather on the filling up of the mind or self with God. I will mention his book a number of times in this “Disciplines” section of my blog, because it, his book, is so filled with details about the subject.

His book is available at many book stores or on Amazon and I highly recommend getting it. Before I used excerpts from his book, in 2013, I emailed his publisher to get permission to do so for a Sunday School lesson. They do NOT want anyone to be making money on anything that is taken out of any books, so I am good on that requirement.

I believe we can look at the Spiritual Disciplines as the melding of the mind, the soul and the body toward a common goal of finding God.

Let me list some of the Disciplines that we will be discussing, as put forth by Foster and others regarding Spirituality.  There are three types we will explore: Inward, Outward and Corporate Disciplines.  Let’s start with the: 

The Inward Disciplines –

MeditationPrayer  Fasting  – Study

Why would these disciplines be called the Inward Disciplines?

They offer avenues of personal examination and change to develop stronger relationships with God. They enable us to hear His voice and obey His Word

The Outward Disciplines –    

Simplicity –   Solitude/Silence –   Submission   – Service

Why are these classified as Outward Disciplines?

They are easily seen or perhaps noticed by others that help to prepare us to make the world a better place by discovering the social implications of life, and are not meant as pious exercises for the devout.

The Corporate Disciplines –     (Corporate = Pertaining to a united group, such as persons united in one body)

Confession Worship  – GuidanceCelebration

What is corporate & how does this apply to the Disciplines?

They are shared disciplines with others to bring us nearer to one another and to God.

For Protestants, spiritual disciplines are generally regarded to include any combination of what we just listed, but could also mean the following as disciplines:   chastity,  fellowship, frugality, giving such as tithing, hospitality, humility, intimacy,  reflection, self-control, servant hood,  singingsurrender, and teaching. Perhaps even more can be added, if we read of others from Scripture.

Wikipedia states: “A spiritual discipline is the regular or full-time performance of actions and activities undertaken for the purpose of cultivating spiritual development. A common metaphor used in the spiritual traditions of the world’s great religions is that of walking a path.  Therefore, a spiritual discipline moves a person along a path towards a goal. The goal is variously referred to as salvation, liberation or union (with God). A person who walks such a path is sometimes referred to as a wayfarer or a pilgrim or what I might call being a disciple of Christ on a journey to find and be with Him.” 

Do you believe that Disciplines are challenging or demanding to do in daily life?

Disciplines should not be hard to do, but may be difficult if we allow them to be.  We do not have to be advanced in matters of theology to practice them. Anyone, from long time Christians to recent converts can practice the Spiritual Disciplines.

The biggest requirement is to involve yourself in Disciplines and to have a basic longing for God.  In Psalms 42: 1-2, “As a heart longs for flowing streams, so longs my soul for thee, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God.”  The key here is again, longing for God.

One word of caution, however, must be given at the outset: to know the actual mechanics of doing the Disciplines does not mean that we are actually practicing the Disciplines  Using Meditation as an example, we could finally learn about how to do Biblical Meditation, but in reality, when trying to do so, we may fail to practice the Meditation in the correct way or toward the real goal of doing the meditation, namely, taking time to be with God.  I was guilty of this myself. I had allowed myself to think that I MUST meditate every day, and try to do so at a certain hour. That is not the intent of meditating, as keeping within a strict, rule oriented way of doing so. My Pastor helped me understand this and guided me toward a better thought process of doing meditation.

The Spiritual Disciplines are an inward and spiritual reality, and the inner attitude of the heart is far more crucial than the actual mechanics, for coming into the reality of the spiritual life.   The life that is pleasing to God is not a series of religious duties. There is really one goal for the Disciplines, namely, to experience a life of relationship and intimacy with God. God who is “the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change” (James 1: 17).

When we feel we have a need for God, come to understand we are sinners and that we are ready to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are beginning to have a relationship with God. What do we have to do? Well, God should be included in our lives, or daily lives. It would help if we prayed to God and not just in church, if we go. We could meditate and pray, because God loves to hear from us. Hey, read the Bible and perhaps learn some things. There are great stories in it that have a message for us to learn. Many things can be done to have a relationship, but we have to try them. God is waiting!