As part of a growing national movement to ignite “spiritual awakening” in America, more than 14,000 churches are expected to invite people to come back to church on National Back To Church Sunday (NBTCS), Sept. 16, 2012. http://backtochurch.com/
This sounds like a very good movement – until you consider two things:
1) The organization’s statement of faith http://backtochurch.com/add_your_church/statement_of_faith includes only the most insular and parochial view of spirituality. It applies only to “Bible-believing” churches and lists six statements of belief that are all limited to Christianity: “Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin” (really? In 2012, we still take this literally??) Oh – and worse: “God works through the members of His church to evangelize the lost….and [we] must not engage in moral compromise or affirm any such sins as…homosexuality….” (please, get real here.)
2) While adopting this type of belief system may be what is meant by religious conversion, it is NOT what is meant by spiritual awakening. A spiritually awakened person does not literally believe improbable things…” begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin.” Nor does a spiritually awakened person proselytize to others or exclude people on the basis of their personal traits, such as homosexuality.
The very idea of a spiritual awakening is to move beyond this type of belief system!
– Beyond insular popular belief systems and toward a more inclusive worldview.
– Beyond literalism and toward a symbolic or metaphorical interpretation of religious concepts.
– Beyond exclusivity about any given religion and toward appreciation that people of all religions, nationalities, and even sexual orientations are united first in their humanity—“We all are one!”
– Beyond the need for the existential “comforts” of easy, fast answers offered by traditional religion, and toward the spiritual courage to appreciate life as an ongoing mystery.
– Beyond the triumphalism and divisiveness of needing to think our religion is better than everyone else’s and toward recognition of all belief systems as localized, cultural interpretations of the same spiritual truth.
– Beyond fear of “the other” so typical in “popular” religion and toward a universal LOVE.
Our fast-changing global society needs us to learn how to distinguish between the spiritual immaturity of the literal parochial message, and the maturity of the universal spiritual message. Those of us who have already thought all this through—have applied serious critical thought to our beliefs—and those on the threshold of doing so—must resist efforts that would corral us into superficial, provincial religious interpretations.
By all means, GO back to church on September 16! But please—do so to celebrate our universal human community* and not to look for simplistic answers about how we got here on earth and where we are going next. And certainly not to submit yourself to strictly Biblical authority. Today’s world requires that we resist efforts to call ourselves awakened until we realize that we all—the good, the sinners, the believers, the nonbelievers, the straight and the homosexuals all are united in universal love and all are one.
*some types of churches do this way better than others. Find one that does!