Religion Doesn't Kill, People Do

So, too, with religion: Religion hasn't lost ground to spirituality because spirituality is a virtuous enterprise and religion is not. Religion loses its way whenever people who practice their religion forget that it is an encounter with God. When they do, then they begin to talk about encounters with God as an abstraction; they institutionalize religion, rendering it innocuous or, worse yet, they use religion as a vehicle for lending credibility to their prejudices.

The shift in language from religion to spirituality is here to stay, although neither word is likely to completely disappear from our vocabulary. And the language of spirituality has much to commend itself. But it grew out of the practice of religion. And the practice of spirituality brings with it the same perils and opportunities, because the problem isn't one of vocabulary, but practice.

More precisely, to coin a phrase: Religion doesn't kill. People do.

7/24/2011 4:00:00 AM
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  • Frederick Schmidt
    About Frederick Schmidt
    Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at:
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