It’s my turn to write the lectionary reflection at bLOGOS, the blog on the website of The Ekklesia Project. Looking at this week’s appointed epistle lesson from Hebrews chapter 10, I write about the (widespread) phenomenon of people identifying themselves as “Spiritual But Not Religious.”

Christians, I contend, are just the opposite: “Religious But Not Spiritual.” Here’s an excerpt:

I have recently (re)discovered how prevalent “Spiritual But Not Religious” devotees are on college campuses, even (especially?) church-related ones.  Yet no matter the age group or demographic, this business of shedding the “baggage of doctrine and religion” is what it’s all about:  snubbing dogma and its perceived strictures, rejecting all forms of religion, especially the organized kind.

But I’m with Bill Cavanaugh on this one: “being against organized religion is like being against organized hospitals.” Institutions will always be subject to corruption and silliness, fraud and ineptitude, since they are comprised of people who . . . well, since they are comprised of people.

But the organized, institutional part of religion – the messy materiality of people and practices – is its beating heart. Contra the breezy, anti-establishment tenets of SBNR (which are themselves pretty dogmatic), doctrine is simply the lived and living witness of a received tradition. The Christian doctrine of creation, for instance, is not a proposition to be believed in, a theory of how the world got its start way back when. Rather, it’s a way of seeing all things in relation to God; a way of receiving, offering, loving, and living one’s life as sheer gift.

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