We ran across an interesting blog post on Huffington Post by Mickey Mooney who authored the book, An Outsider’s Guide to the Gospel. Mr. Mooney represents a growing number among our younger generation who are foregoing participation in institutional religion and are find their own ways to live out a faith life in God. Others bring together multiple identities that seems to fit their lives very well, like being both secular and Christian, or Hindu, or something else. Welcome to the world of the New Evangelization and what we must dialogue with in order to understand this new world we live in, and to find much better responses to a younger generation who have little trust in absolute truth, church hierarchy, and institutional religion. We include his blog post in its entirety in order to invite you to engage in a conversation about this. What is your response to Mr. Mooney? What are the implications of a younger generation opting out of the institutional churches and other faiths? We appreciate respectful and constructive comments.
Let me start by making my premise clear: Believing in God doesn’t mean I believe in religion, and believing in Jesus doesn’t mean I believe in the religion of Christianity. While I accept I’ll often be lumped into these groups because I believe in God and Jesus, I know that I myself don’t subscribe to any organized religion. I have in the past, and I learned my lesson.
While some say only one religion leads to God, and others might say all religions lead to God, I would say the opposite: That no religion leads to God. They may talk of God, point to him even, and have some relevant points, but, in my opinion, they do not, and can not, lead fully to God; the various branches and denominations of Christianity are no exception.
The very structure religion confines itself within, along with its immovable dogmas, is proof enough that it will always fail to lead anyone to the full reality of our boundless, cosmic-sized God. It’s clear to me that God is bigger than any box a religion can set up to put him in.
While it seems popular to think Jesus came to build an army of sorts for God, and to then organize his followers to build him an empire on earth, I personally don’t subscribe to such a concept. In fact, I think Christ came to do the opposite; I believe he came to end empire thinking and bring each of us back to a personal, individual experience of God.
I believe it is a divine experience that is not based on us (as some kind of Christian army) conquering the world on his behalf, but rather, it is the experience of Christ himself conquering our individual heart with the victory of his love. For it is only when his love has fully overcome our hearts that we can truly be led into a divine understanding of God.
So what does a personal relationship with God feel like? It feels personal, that’s what. It’s a relationship that you and God experience and understand. It’s not a corporate relationship. Yes, many others also have a personal relationship, and that’s a beautiful thing, just as connecting with other believers is a beautiful experience, but I don’t expect their relationship to God to be a cookie cutter of mine. Vocabulary that describes my faith and belief is — and I think should be — different. The way I connect with my divine Father naturally varies to others.
The thoughts and questions that God stirs my heart with — and the answers I find — are never going to be the same as everyone else, because my relationship with God is personal.
Contrary to this is organized religion. Religion creates a corporate identity. When we buy into religion we end up speaking, sounding, even looking like everyone else within that corporate branded identity. Same thoughts. Same beliefs. Same well-defined doctrines; and if you step out of line and have questions that don’t fit that corporate identity, chances are you might be silenced, or even booted out.
Well, you know, I don’t mind if I don’t fit the corporate identity of organized religion, nor do I seek membership. I’m happy to have a relationship that is unique with my creator, to let go of long-held religious ambitions, and simply live in the reality of everyday life. I simply want to walk freely in each day, with an open mind to learn new things and an open heart to connect authentically with the world around me.