Never Cared To Claim Either OneI am spiritual, but not religious is the banner slogan sign of our times. It is a reflection of our American culture. I take no offense at its use or when I hear it. Its use may have the best of intentions. It may be the only way some are able to express with some confidence a bit of their conviction in the form of sound bites, _ another reflection of American culture. Often the slogan is the sum total of the person's understanding of their conviction. It is a tragedy of faith and the fellowship of the saints in Christ when a disciple breaks away with nothing more than this slogan as his faith response to the world. It is a slogan born out of disillusionment and confusion on the teaching of doctrine for the knowledge and strengthening of the faith of the believer. What the slogan reflects is the oneupmanship American mentality: Win and out do the other guy. The slogan pits spiritual against religious with spiritual being the better of the two, but there's a deceptive, dangerous shallowness which characterizes this slogan.
There is no better model than Jesus as the ultimate model of spirituality. Yet, spirituality was neither a claim he ever made for himself nor did he train his disciples in a how-to-be-spiritual course. The apostle Paul, one of Jesus' disciples after the resurrection, exhorts the saints, the Christians in Galatia, "if anyone is caught up in a trespass, youi who are spiritual, restore such a one." The carnal mind, or carnality, is the affront to being spiritual. Self claims of being spiritual raise serious, legitimate questions on the one making those claims. It is a shame and disgrace when the tesimony of others is that a believer is carnal. .It is to the glory of the believer when the testimony of others is that he is spiritual.
Years before I ever heard this now popular slogan I made a life commitment to Jesus as Lord and Savior. It never entered my mind to be religious. It never entered my mind to be spiritual. It was not that I rejected either of these, but rather that I regarded and have always understood these as by-products of my life of faith as a disciple of Jesus. Personally, I have felt an inner cringe when people have approached me with a question because, as I they said, "you're religious." I have never cared to claim to be either one though I believe there may be enough evidence to charge me on either of these.
Paul's instruction to the Christians in Galatia raises the appropriate questions: Who is a spiritual? What constitutes a spiritual? A self-proclamation of spirituality raises serious doubt and wonder as to the person's inner makeup in the Spirit. Briefly stated, the marks, or characteristics, of a spiritual are the 1) wisdom do discern, 2) confidence to judge, and the 3) authority to speak. See the article You Who Are Spiritual: Wisdom to Discern Part I