“I’m spiritual but not religious.”
Ever heard somebody say that before? I used to say something similar in my sophomore and junior years at Luther guided by the later statement of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “I’m a religionless Christian”. I would be critical of pretty much anything that came out of the mouth of organized religion. I still am a lot of the time. My primary reason was that no one should place human limitations on God’s action in the world.
While I still totally cling to this reason for other faith discussions, I don’t know if I can call myself religionless anymore. I have my views on the role of the institution and the manufactured prettied up stories of the Bible to create particular images of Jesus and God. I have many doubts as to if Jesus through the church is better than Jesus through experience. That said, I deeply appreciate the presence of a community of people who share in a similar tradition and want to develop what Christ means for them in the world today.
I think this sense of community is lost when the Church tries to be a place of answers rather than a place for questions. My Church History professor put it best when he said “The Church should be a place for people to come out of their religious closets, whatever they might be.” When many people experience an institution that seeks to communicate answers rather than receive questions, it is easy to see how more and more people do not feel welcome to voice their underlying concerns about religious Christianity unless they go “religionless”. I have begun to wonder if this cry for being spiritual but not religious is a way for people who are fearful within an institutionalized context to ask the questions that weigh heavily on their hearts and minds about faith-related topics. Perhaps the Church’s response should be more directed at broadcasting that “All Are Welcome”…all people and all questions.