Parade Magazine says 24% have left church for Spiritualism. The Church community criticizes that it’s not real religion. Leading Christian apologists, like Ravi Zacharias, agree saying Spiritualism is “gelatinous ideology lacking necessary theological elements.”
Churches are desperate. The run-off is unprecedented and certainly due to the fact that only 3% of young adults believe in Satan, judgment or Christianity. (Barna Group)
According to Parade, “What Americans are doing today is separating spirituality from religion, with many people disavowing organized practice altogether. In fact, 24% put themselves into a whole new category, ‘spiritual, but not religious.” (10/4/09 Issue)
Churches don’t need to debunk Spirituality as non-religious, because Spirituality isn’t religion. That criticism doesn’t bother Spiritualists, because Parade said these people no longer want anything to do with organized religion.
So what is the “New Spiritualism” and why is it becoming mainstream?
In America, most Spiritualists are disenchanted Christians. Early American Deists were a close parallel.
Most of the signers were Deists who rejected the church for its cruelty and oppression in Europe. Jefferson and Payne said the church “terrified the masses for the purpose of gaining wealth and control.” Jefferson said, “Revelations had to be written by a mad man.” Lincoln didn’t believe in Satan. He “could not conceive that a god of love could create the circumstances for which he would have to condemn his children to eternal hell, as the Christians would say…”
Bishop John Spong says, “the church has always been in the guilt producing, control business, and dangled us between their imaginary heaven and hell as a control tactic.”
Spiritualists are over it. Like our forefathers, they want to be free to contemplate their spiritual cosmos’ undirected and unintimidated by the church. Theologians are right that Spiritualism has no structure. The theology of each Spiritualist is as unique as a snowflake… varied by the uniqueness of his or her life experience. Spiritualists respect other Spiritualists, but aren’t driven to amass in a community of others with uniform dogma.
Another major reason for the shift from church to Spiritualism is the contemporary revelation of the Near Death Experience. Since it’s discovery by Dr. Raymond Moody in 1975, most Americans have abandoned the church’s heaven/hell judgment scenario. Now most believe they’ll enter a bright light with relatives and friends, being enveloped by bliss and serenity. This universal bliss is a problem for the church. The Southern Baptist Convention formally condemned the NDE as non-Christian Spiritualism since it conflicts with biblical justification. Roman Christianity can’t sustain itself without the fear of judgment and eternal punishment. This will be an endless crisis for the church.
Being “spiritual” and being “religious” are polar opposites. As the Spiritualist’s life experiences accumulate, his perception of his cosmos evolves. Much like Buddhists seeking enlightenment, Spiritualists are on a trek to find their place in their cosmos. Anything goes, as long as it’s positive and respectful of others’ diverse beliefs. Spiritualists believe that no one is wrong…that we’re all just at different places along the path. They strive to be tolerant of other religions.
Christian Spiritualists tend to base their cosmos simply on Christ’s message, “God is love, and he asks that we love and help one another.” What he taught while He was alive. They then go on to build a personal Christian theology around that base from their own life experience. The Roman Christian dogma of 325 AD…the Nicene Creed, the Roman bible… Virgin birth, son of god theology, judgment, Satan, salvation, Easter fertility, eggs/bunnies, Dec. 25 birthday of sun-god/solstice/Yuletide, etc. are all optional for Spiritualists to accept or reject as they believe.
Church Christians’ cosmos is based on Roman Christian theology focused on Christ’s death and its implications for salvation. They’re intolerant of all other religions and on an endless crusade to convert all non-Christians to “save” them from their “false” religions. Many have left the church because this attitude has instigated more war, desolation and suffering than any other. The church-goer’s cosmos conforms while the Spiritualist’s cosmos transforms.
“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience. Spirituality is having your own experience.” Deepak Chopra