The Lutheran Witness

Spiritual but Not Religious

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Outrage Isn’t Enough
Comments (10)
  1. John T. Moeller says:

    The older I get, the easier it is to count the blessings I didn’t see even as a young married man. When we try to stay true to our Lord it just quietly accumulates like principal in a home . At threescore and fifteen it is all in the pictures of our memories and renewed kneeling at the rail …

  2. AJB says:

    As a young adult (27), I find a lot of young adults my age are spiritual but not religious because of the failure organized religion has had in uniting people of different backgrounds. I grew up reading a Bible and learning about a man who healed the sick, washed the feet of prostitutes, fed the hungry, threw out the capitalist/merchants in his temple, and brought people that had been marginalized by society into his fold.

    Today, organized religion has had a very negative impact on our modern society everything from LGBT discrimination, denying women control of their own bodies, and the molesting of young boys. Not to mention that mega churches which rake in millions of dollars buy private jets and give million dollar salaries to their pastors.

    So it makes sense that when you have an institutional failure in society like organized religion to actually live like Christians (failure in regards to act as a bridge to bring marginalized people like LGBT people into the fold) and instead you have organized religion acting as a source of division and condemnation. Which it turns out that young adults don’t want to be apart of that or identify with that. So you have people recognizing that its what you personally believe and not what some bigoted/discriminatory mainstream religion pretending to be Christ like that matters.

    No where does Jesus command his followers to discriminate against LGBT people (heck Jesus never actually talks about it) but rather to practice love and forgiveness and accept people as they are for everyone is created in the eye of God. In fact, the LCMS has a lot of work to do in this regard if they truly want to live a life like Christ that brings marginalized people into his flock.

    1. AAAC says:

      The spirit of our time is to reject forgiveness altogether in the name of self-justification and self-definition apart from Christ. It is one thing to say “The church is not forgiving enough”; quite another to realize that people don’t want its forgiveness in the first place because they don’t want to believe that there is anything in them that God’s Law clearly addresses. The church must preach the Law, or else the Gospel is meaningless. What’s the point of a “savior” who pats you on the head and tells you you’re just right as you are? Honest people know better, anyway. Liberal churches are dying on the vine because people come to realize that a Jesus that you make up for yourself, in your own image, who affirms everything you already want, is a worthless one.

      Jesus never washed the feet of prostitutes, incidentally, nor did he ever accept their way of life “as they are” so they’d feel good about themselves. They came to him seeking to repent and turn from their former ways. He told one such woman to go and sin no more. Jesus had harsh words for sin thought, word, and deed (see Sermon on the Mount) so that no one escapes. Any 1st-century historian, Christian or not, knows perfectly well that Jesus would have been disgusted by today’s sexually libertine atmosphere. Lutherans who believe the Bible know the great depth of their own sin, but that does not mean they are not allowed to acknowledge the existence of other sin in the world as well. Indeed, as Jesus and the prophets and apostles show us, to point it out IS the only loving thing to do, even if it gets you beheaded and crucified.

      Neither did Jesus condemn “capitalism,” nor encourage abortion because he wanted people to not feel judged for unfettered sexual indulgence, nor instruct people to set up specific forms of government that would seem to give people the equivalent of miraculous feedings and healings. In fact, when people came to him simply for those things, or tried to force him to be king, he turned most of them away with his “hard teachings” (John 6).

      One gets the impression from the Bible that following Jesus is a great way to get people to hate you because you are separate from the mindset of the world, rather than flowing along with any passing trend. Jesus promised us the very opposite of popularity and universal admiration. But for those who are broken by the world’s hopeless rounds of self-justification and are seeking real forgiveness for real sin, the church will always stand open with the message of unconditional forgiveness from a Savior who knows the heavy price of sin.

    2. KNR says:

      Before you attack the LCMS again on such issues my hope is that you would seek out an LCMS pastor to discuss your concerns with, not just attack. Attacking the LCMS doesn’t hurt the LCMS or it’s members, it only hurts those who believe that what you claim to be true is true, and it hurts you as well. Before steam comes out of your ears, keep reading please.

      God created a man and a women, not two men, he ordained marriage as the union of one man and one woman when he was present at the wedding in Cana, he speaks volumes concerning all kinds of sinfulness; deceit, lustfulness, homosexuality, murder, disobedience, idolatry, bigotedness, covetous behavior, etc. of which yes even LCMS members, clergy and administrators are guilty.

      True Christians, like the author of this article you commented on, do not confess to be better than anyone else, to be less sinful, to have less sinful desires, to judge others who sin. True Christians(LCMS Lutherans) confess we are by our very nature, since the fall of Adam, sinful and unclean, we have sinned against God in thought word and deed, by what we have and haven’t done. We continue to be sinful, it is the very thing we are, we are filled to the brim with sinfulness. We deserve his punishment, both now and eternally. We ask only by his Grace and the suffering and death of his innocent Son, that he forgive us and make us holy in his sight.

      As Christians we are called to speak to those sinful desires we all commit. We are commanded to do this so that we and our neighbors are not comfortable in our sins, but repent and work to not remain in that sinful behavior. We struggle everyday with sinfulness, just as everyone else does. When we speak to such sinful desires and behaviors, it is our hope that by the Holy Word of God we speak, the Holy Spirit will bring our neighbors to faith, and eternal salvation, not because of us or how good we are, because we’re not good, but because of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection for us.

      All Christian congregations are filled with sinful human beings, and yes, some live comfortably in their sin and are hypocrites, denying their own sinful behavior. This does not mean that THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, which lives in Christ, Christ is the Church, is the head of the Church, maintains and cares for his Church and will come again and rule his Church here on earth, is corrupt. Corruption comes from men, not from God. If Christians were able to resist all temptations and live a life truly as Christ did, as you suggest we should, we would have no need for him to intercede on our behalf and he may have well stayed in Heaven instead of coming to earth to be Crucified for our sinful nature. Christ came to earth to save us from our sin, not to teach us how to be holy.

      I would hope that you would seek out an LCMS pastor and discuss the concerns you have about the LCMS with him, listen to him and learn what it truly is to be a Christian. It is to trust completely in what Christ has done, not what we do, that saves us.

      Yes LGBT behavior and abortion are sinful, yes we are called by the Holy Word of God to speak against it, yes we are called to repentance of our own sins, yes we are to call others to repentance of their sins. Not to belittle them or discriminate against them, but to call them to the Gospel, through the Holy Spirit so they can repent of such sin and be made holy in the sight of God.

      When I was 27, I had some of the same feelings you have, and I grew up in a Lutheran family. I struggled with such thoughts of the churches and congregations who spent so much money and asked for money, and used those funds inappropriately, who were legalistic and demanded tithing, who denied unmarried couples living together Holy Communion because of their unrepented sin, who argued and fought with each other in church meetings, who called each other names, and pointed the finger at each other instead of inward on themselves first. Who were deceitful in their methods of advancing their agenda. Who acted one way in church and another outside of the church building. I think I know just how you feel and most likely you have some real reasons for feeling this way. The fact remains however, that there are only two types of spirituality. One that comes from The Holy Spirit through the Holy Scriptures and one that comes from the minds of human beings. My hope is that you chose the former and not the latter.

      Speak to an LCMS pastor about this. I think you will find that true Lutherans aren’t as elitist and holier than thou as you think we are. We truly do try to care for our fellow neighbors, but we fail often. May Christ forgive us.

      In Christ’s peace

      1. AJB says:

        Im sorry you think I’m attacking the LCMS church, but thats not what I did. I am trying to highlight the failure of religion as a institution in our society because it is very divisive rather than having a message of love, tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance for all people created in the eye of God

        In regards to gender, here is a passage from the Bible:

        “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28

        If we really want to get into the Old Testament and God’s law, we should first acknowledge that 99% of modern day Christians do not adhere to the laws in the Old Testament. Otherwise Christians would not be eating shrimp or wearing clothes of mixed threads and other things.

        So to invoke God’s law in the Old Testament to support a discriminatory belief – those very Christians should look at themselves to make sure they are not being hypocritical.

        I never once said anyone was better than someone else and I agree we are all sinful creatures. That is a given.

        But to condemn someone because they sin differently than you is not what Jesus would do, never once did Jesus condemn a LGBT person.

        In fact he has a message that everyone is loved and forgiven.

        Christ already forgave us, lets hope he can forgive the churches that condemn the people created in God’s eye just because they sin differently.

    3. Will G says:

      I think the other posters had some good responses, but I will add this. The good that the church does is routinely ignored by the same media that love a church scandal.

      Numerous studies have found that Christians dedicate more time and money to charitable causes than people who have no religious affiliation. But no reporter is going to tell a story about a person who volunteers every week at a soup kitchen, or a person who teaches ESL to refugees year after year. The church is the hands and feet of Christ, but many do not see it because there’s nothing flashy about being hands and feet.

  3. Ronald Roby says:

    How can one be filled with a spirit and not be religious? Even if the spirit is the devil nevertheless you are religious. If you are not spiritual, you are not religious.

  4. Gail slater says:

    For me spiritual refers to my personal relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Religion is different man made rules and practices that are officially or unofficially used to control and manipulate individuals within different denominations.

    1. Nils says:

      That’s not really what “religion” is or what it means. The word “religio” in Latin means “worship”, “obligation,” or “reverence” (among other things). Do you pray to God for forgiveness of sins? Do you forgive others as Christ forgives you? Do you worship Him in some way? Do you pray the prayer Christ instituted? Do you regard Christ as Lord and Savior? If you do any of these things, you are being “religious” and participating in acts of “religion.”

  5. Alex says:

    There are really only two kinds of people in the world: those who have the Holy Spirit within them and those who do not…and that is what defines spiritualism…