Christianity neither spiritual nor religious?

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by mvdm, Sep 28, 2011.

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  1. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    This 4 1/2 minute clip of Horton is his answer to those who claim to be "spiritual but not religious". Of course, we know David Wells did a fine job in his books debunking this modern dichotomous view of the Christian life and says that the spiritual and religious are to be integrated. Yet, the answer I hear from Horton is that Christianity is neither spiritual nor religious, but is something "completely different". Maybe I'm missing something, so it would be great if someone else could watch this and explain whether Horton is making any sense. Video 11 – Religious or Spiritual vs. Gospel-Focused - White Horse Inn Blog
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  2. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    It might be worth to consider that one modern definition of spirituality is that of emotional experience.
  3. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    Mark -

    What I think Dr. Horton is saying is that you don't need to be Christian to be either "spiritual" or "religious" as those terms are used today. Many religions can provide these and many Christians even believe these to be the ends to which Christians strive. Christianity is about the gospel and that is where our focus is to be, on the finished work of Christ. That is what no other religion in the world can provide.

    ---------- Post added at 11:23 AM ---------- Previous post was at 11:15 AM ----------

    BTW - I am the webmaster of WHI and I saw your pingback come through in our blog comments. That is how I knew about this question given that I don't really frequent the PuritanBoard much!

  4. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Mark: I am not questioning the part of Horton's statement that folks need not be Christian in order to be spiritual or religious. That is not in dispute. We see that everywhere. I clearly understand that part.

    The question I am asking is the question that makes up the title of this thread, i.e., now turning our focus on Christianity itself, Horton says it is neither spiritual or religious. Any help in deciphering that?
  5. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    Mark -

    I think the answer is what Samuel stated above and by what comes in the beginning of the video when Mike talks about these terms as they came to be used in The Enlightenment and afterward. If those are the definitions of being "spiritual" and "religious" then that is not what Christianity is. Our definitions of being spiritual (indwelled with the Holy Spirit) and religious (worshipping God according to his word and living lives of thankful obedience) are totally different.
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011
  6. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Using those terms the way Horton uses them, which is also the way 99% of unchurched America uses them, he's right and he's being a good communicator of the gospel. Using those terms the way, say, the Puritans used them (which is the way many of us would still like to use them) he's wrong.

    I suppose we could try to make a stand for the traditional understanding of those words, and there might be some benefit in that. But I think it's more important to clearly communicate the uniqueness of the gospel in ways most people today will readily understand.
  7. mvpol

    mvpol Puritan Board Freshman

    Jack K is right!

    Remember from whom these questions are coming and to whom these answers are being given. These were asked to Mike by "" and are posted on a website called "GodTube." These are not websites I am sure many of us frequent for our deep theological inquires nor are these sites going to make distinctions like the Scholastics or have the robust piety of the Puritans!
  8. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    He is confusing at best. He is changing the meaning of spiritual and religion to fit his view of gospel. He is divorcing biblical truth from his definitions. The non Chrisitians and nominal Christians I know would think his little talk here is at best confusing.

    I have shared the Gospel of Christ for 30 years. Those who think they are spiritual understand what that means. Even if they don't like the word religion. The word religion to them indicates duty to a transcendent authority. They readily acknowledge that. And that is just what they want to get away from. They don't like ecclesiastical orders that might require something of them accountability wise and they have seen abuses from men who claim such. The terminology is not bad. I believe Dr. Horton is just being confusing and needlessly so. Truth is what sets people free. I am not changing God's vocabulary because someone doesn't understand it. I will instead use the truth to define the terms and educate those who have a poor understanding. Should we quit using the term Trinity or redemption because people don't understand them and the concepts are difficult? I think not. We should educate people with the proper definition and doctrine.

    This kind of sounds like a case for eubonics. Since the terminology has culturally changed we should change our vocabulary. Bunk!

    Dr. Horton's definitions of late have me very concerned anyways. As I believe he would charge my doctrines of gospel and law being something of error. His definitions here are very poor. They are terrible.
  9. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    I guess we should remove terminology like spiritual death and false religion from our vocabulary also. After all it seems we are trying to eliminate the thesis and antithesis. I can't believe where this can lead. There is so much wrong with this type of thinking. On one end you have this group sharply dividing things so far they lose truth and on the other end now it seems they are removing even the distinctions. Wow, this is at best confusing.
  10. mvdm

    mvdm Puritan Board Junior

    Mark: Appreciate this. If only Horton had supplied what you just did: a proper definitional contrast between right "spirituality" and wrong "spirituality", then there could be little objection to the piece. As it is stands, it is jarring to hear a description of wrong spirituality and then conclude --without explanation-- that Christianity is neither spiritual nor religious but is something "completely different". Since you are webmaster of that site and so you are aware, that statement could be seen as of a piece with his recent video defining the gospel as being only an announcement of a past event, which "gospel" definition itself has recently been criticized as excluding the work of sanctification, piety, etc. If the intended audience are those not looking for "deep theological inquiries", as you say, then all the more reason to be careful not to leave a mistaken impression on impressionable persons that Christianity is not about spirituality or religion. Perhaps a note of clarification on the site would be helpful for such folk.
  11. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    The video made sense to me...(sorry). Christianity is not about how "spiritual" you are, (ie. worshipping the trees, stars, animals, etc...the more you spiritualize things around you, the more spiritual you are, as the Romans thought). And, Christianity is not about how "religious" you are, (ie. ceremonies, rituals, incense, recitations in honor to your god). It is about Christ and him crucified. Everything centers around him and flows from that, hence the name Christianity.

  12. PuritanCovenanter

    PuritanCovenanter Moderator Staff Member

    Maybe it should be about what kind of spirituality one has then and about what kind of religion one has. If I were to walk up on the street and ask anyone if Christianity was a religion or spiritual they would most emphatically say it was about religion and spirituality. They may believe it to be a false religion and falsely spiritual but none the less they know there is a connection. And if I were to tell them Christianity wasn't a religion they would think I had lost my marbles. It is not safe to take God's words and say they don't apply. And I don't think any right minded person would equate the pantheistic views of the world with the Scriptures. The scriptures don't allow it. The scriptures do talk about spiritual wickedness and tell us to test the spirits. So to say things aren't spiritual or religious in nature is just negating the facts. There is something called True Spirituality and we are commanded to walk in the Spirit. If there isn't spirituality and religious duty bound up in that command then I don't know why we are even discussing this.
  13. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    That is a good presentation in many ways. He has defined "religion" in terms of enlightenment concepts, so he is entitled to be understood as speaking to that definition when he continues to use the word "religion." The problem is not what he says about religion but what he says about the gospel. We are again being presented with the justification only gospel -- with the exchange of places and the imputation of righteousness -- and this is being called Christianity, which is neither spirituality nor religion. Justification is certainly an essential part of the gospel, but it is not all that the gospel teaches and it is not the sum and substance of Christianity. Where is adoption? Where is sanctification? Where are the several benefits which accompany or flow from these? Where is the duty which God requires of man. Where are the means of grace? Word, sacraments, prayer? Where is faith and repentance? Christ came to save His people from their sins and to give His people eternal life. That is more than a forensic state.
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