As I was leaving B&N this afternoon I passed by the magazine rack and saw this:
It made me laugh, then it made me think…
Though the difference between Religion vs. Spirituality debate is often not that interesting to Christians, especially to Seminarians; I think it is an understandable sentiment held by many young americans (i.e. I am spiritual not religious). This magazine cover illuminates that dichotomy.
Spiritual is freeing, relaxing, uplifting, edifying, meditative, and felt as a lifting from the ground up.
Religion is constrictive, anal, repressive, destructive, lecturing and felt as a smashing weight from above.
Perhaps one of the reasons contemporary people feel this way about established Western Religions, Christianity in particular, is because we have ignored the Spiritual component of the our faith. The entire Third person of the Trinity has become an afterthought. In part, thanks to Augustine–then probably someone others–and then due to Modernity.
Augustine may not have intended but certainly opened the door for a piss poor pneumatology (ah stupid silent p looses the alliteration effect), because suddenly the Holy Spirit became the Spirit of Christ.
Rather than being a separate person, it became the relationship of the Father to the Son, or worse to be represented solely by the Church. It is hard enough to conceptualize a fully human, fully god Jesus Christ–why through an ephemeral being like the Holy Spirit into the mix? Instead let’s just ignore it, or rationalize it away call it the True Church.
Our weak pneumatology has led to us to favor a stagnate, anal, repressive religion because we loose sight of the fact that God is still creatively active in our world. A strong pneumatology would believe in the Spirit’s ability direct and guide the church through all of these controversial issues, through postmodernity, through any troubles because it realizes that innovation, meditation, creativity, joy, peace, happiness, fruitfulness, etc. are all gifts of the Spirit. It would believe that no matter how big of mistake the Church makes that the Godhead is still at work.
So why do many American’s view Christianity as a old, boring, repressive religious system while Spirituality is hitting the cultural pulse. Perhaps it is because we have failed to honor, glorify and worship the Holy Spirit.
So it is actually not that funny, but kind of sad, that a Religion which believes that a Spirit is one of the essential persons of our Godhead is not considered Spiritual.
Where did the Holy Spirit go in our faith?