Friday, March 1, 2013

Are you Spiritual or Religious?

It is not surprising to look at the current state of religiosity and spirituality in the United States and notice that many people, especially the younger generations, are choosing spirituality over traditional religious institutions.

Alan Miller is his article,"My Take: I'm spiritual but not religious is a cop-out" argues that America's "feel good", anti-big, anti-discipline, and independent mentality is pushing people away from traditional religious institutions. Instead they are pursuing their own unique spirituality that is a combination of whatever spiritual practices make them feel good about themselves.

Miller believes there is problem with this type of spirituality because there is no explanation or reasoning for their beliefs besides that it makes them feel something positive, which may or may not be connection to a "higher power" of some type. The doctrine, theology, and religious beliefs of traditional religious institutions are needed for individuals to make real and substantive stances on what they believe in their spiritual and religious. His ultimate argument is that to rely on subjective feelings for spiritual beliefs is to abandon human-based reasoning and forgo any substantive stance about spirituality.

How does this relate to Professional Counseling?

Professional counselors must realize the changing landscape of religious and spiritual beliefs of America. The "feel good" and "positive-only" culture sweeping across America has made its way into may Christian churches and homes. Christian professional counselors must take into account that many of their "Christian" clients might not believe in or even know traditional Christian beliefs and doctrine because of the changing religious and spiritual landscape. 

For Christian professional counselors working in a religious setting or in an environment that approves the use of religious interventions, they need to assess the religious beliefs and level of commitment of their clients. This will better allow counselors to formulate their interventions and treatment used with their clients. Proper assessment will also allow Christian counselors to know if their client needs more training and understanding of Christian doctrine. Before continuing, I want to further stress the importance of knowing your workplaces'  rules regarding the use of religious interventions with clients. Some places might not allow or want you to address spirituality during counseling. Also, Christian counselors must not force their religious beliefs upon their clients. 

Personal Impact

As a Christian who wants to live life in accordance to traditional Christian beliefs, I must continually assess my life and see how the "feel good" movement is impacting my life. It would be ignorant for me to think that I am immune to its effects.

 As a Christian professional counselor in training, I want to be able to help clients have healing in their physical, mental, and spiritual lives. I believe true spiritual health comes through having a relationship with Jesus Christ and through cultivating that relationship with Jesus Christ. Clients that want to grow in their spiritual life, ultimately I want to point clients towards Christ because that is where I believe true healing comes. 


  1. I remember seeing a video a while back about how many teens and young adults are leaving the church from Barna. David Kinnaman researched this epidemic as well. I think what you were getting has alot to do with why we are seeing a massive exodus from the church. The relativism that permeates are society is not being held at bay from entering the church through solid teaching and freedom to speak about issues without judgment or receiving weird looks. If kids can't get answers at the church they will stop going and find it somewhere else. Hopefully we as counselors can help the next generation stay in church and cultivate a relationship with God instead of just being spiritual with whatever ideals "float their boat."

  2. Rusty, I agree with you full-heartedly that "true healing comes from Christ." I think that your topic is interesting and incredibly relevant to the culture that we live in today. If one were to look at how the church is now to where it was hundreds of years ago, there would be undoubtedly a drastic difference.
    One topic that was brought up in class and in church recently is the fact that churches today are attempting to "water-down" the gospel so that it "feels" good and so that it is easy for people to understand, digest, and believe. However, if one were to take a look at how Jesus preached, it was difficult to fully understand without His guidance. I often wonder what happened, what caused the switch regarding how the gospel is presented.
    Another point that I liked that you brought up is the fact that mere feelings are truly unreliable and that they are contingent upon one's current circumstances. They are not stable and we should not base our eternity simply on how we may feel as a given time. That is why it is important for churches to not always gravitate towards preaching a message simple to receive an emotional response without backing it up with consistent rock-solid truth.
    Finally, I thought your debate between spirituality and religion is incredibly interesting and relevant. Personally, I think it is all in how you define these two words. Below is a youtube video I found that shows this difference. Although I don't agree with all of it, I think it is beneficial to be aware of what people are thinking and learning in regards to their faith.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.