Start by Asking Them What They Mean by “Religious”
· They see no need for “organized religion”, which means churches, denominations, doctrine, or other religions; i.e. any system that impinges on their personal freedom and asks something of them.
· They may see Christian doctrine as paternalistic, authoritarian, and oppressive, in contrast to true spirituality and freedom.
· Be sure to listen and ask questions to clarify issues they raise in a non-judgmental manner. When you start judging them, THE SPIRITUAL CONVERSATION IS OVER.
· You might ask them if they have had bad experiences in churches to learn more about their religious viewpoints.
· State that you are not defending Christianity as an organized, historic religion, because it has a lot of baggage (much of which contradicts Christ’s teaching), but a personal relationship with the sovereign, living God of the universe.
· You might share with them that:
o If they expect churches to be places where perfect, loving people gather (rather than a hospital for sinners), they will be disappointed.
o You have found attending a church to be liberating, as you set aside a special time devoted to the Lord, your relationship with the Lord deepens, and you enjoy fellowship with other believers.
Then Ask Them What They Mean by “Spiritual”
Our Lord created us with a spirit and desire to have a relationship with Him, so we shouldn’t be surprised if someone says they are spiritual. However imperfectly, they are expressing that desire. Typically they are not referring to the God of the Bible, but to one of two religious worldviews.
Worldview #1: God is a God of Love and Everyone is Going to Heaven
This is similar to Christianity, but departs from historical Christian beliefs in saying that everyone is going to heaven, regardless of beliefs or behavior. They see different religions as different paths to heaven. THIS IS UNIVERSALISM. In contrast, Jesus said:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
· This denies the holiness, justice, and mercy of God – the God who has revealed Himself through the prophets, Christ, the Bible, the Holy Spirit, saints throughout history, and fulfilled prophecies.
· They are rejecting the necessity for Christ to die on the cross, because everyone is going to heaven anyway.
· It also means there is no ultimate justice in life, with Hitler, Mao, and other mass murderers – all unrepentant, evil people going to heaven, paying no price and suffering no consequence for their evil deeds. Is that the kind of world you want to live in?
Worldview #2: We Are All One and We Are All Spiritual
The second world view sees you, and me, and them, and the entire universe as sacred, holy, and spiritual (i.e. we are all GOD). It acknowledges that there is something transcendent about the material universe, and claims we can experience this divine reality and live a transcendent life of connectedness with all that is. And when we die, we become one with all that is – the ultimate Oneness. THIS IS PANTHEISM.
· How can we develop a personal relationship with an impersonal God-that-is-all-that-is? And then in death in pantheism, like a drop of rain that falls into the ocean, we lose our identity forever.
· In contrast, when we repent and receive Christ as our Savior, we become indwelt by the Holy Spirit and develop a personal relationship with the God who created us in His image and seeks to have a loving relationship with us into eternity.
· Although God has revealed Himself in nature which He created, He is separate and distinct from it, just as we are separate and distinct from some work of art that we create. We see that in the first verse of the Bible:
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
In summary, while being spiritual but not religious sounds liberating, it rejects historic, Biblical Christianity that has been proven by multiple fulfilled prophecies and provided meaning, purpose, and joy for millions of people in their lives and into eternity. It also leads to lives that are devoid of a personal relationship with our Lord, that worship a false god, and are on the broad path that leads to the Lake of Fire forever and ever. They may be in touch with the spirit world, but it is not the Holy Spirit.
So let us go forth to reach people with the love and truth of Christ, for time is short, eternity is a very long time, and we are not guaranteed tomorrow.
To God be the glory
Board of Evangelism