What is the difference between a religious person and spiritual person?

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  1. tsmog profile image84
    tsmogposted 6 years ago

    What is the difference between a religious person and spiritual person?

    Where that question leads to is can a spiritual person be a Christian? In other words, does a Christian have to be religious?

  2. Stella Kaye profile image84
    Stella Kayeposted 6 years ago

    A religious person doesn't decide for themselves exactly what to believe but lets the religion they follow decide their beliefs for them

    Having true spirituality means you've given yourself the freedom to believe in whatever you want to believe in without conforming to any particular set of values or doctrines as dictated by organised religions. So yes, if you define yourself as spiritual, you can believe in Christ but you don't have to belong to any sect or attend church if you prefer not to. So being spiritual is very much a DIY form of religion. You maintain the flexibility to chose for yourself rather than be indoctrinated.

    A spiritual person may incorporate values and belief structures from several  quite diverse religions, taking the intrinsic value and goodness from them all and applying it to their own life. 'The Golden Rule' is at the heart of all religions and the message is basically the same - treat others how you would like them to treat you. I've written an article on this subject which is published on HubPages.

    1. The0NatureBoy profile image59
      The0NatureBoyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      SK,I came out of Christianity calls myself an "Atheist-Christian" having recognized the Christ said (Jon 10:34-35) "Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came" say man are god.

    2. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      This comment is close to how I see it. I think at times a religious person practices a religion and then arrives at spirituality. I kinda' see religion is a pathway to spirituality, but can be diverted onto another pathway at a crossroad.

  3. Mark Tulin profile image87
    Mark Tulinposted 6 years ago

    Being religious has negative connotations. It could imply a rigid belief system and an anti liberal mindset. Whereas there is more openness with a spiritual person, more likely to accept others and different ideas.

    1. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you Mark. Religious as a descriptor does seem to have negative connotations especially within liberal circles. That I think happens when religion and politics mix.

    2. Ericdierker profile image48
      Ericdierkerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Perhaps for each one, we must have the other. I see no separating line. My religion does not conflict with my spirituality and my spirituality does not conflict with my religiosity. They in fact support each other.

  4. manatita44 profile image74
    manatita44posted 6 years ago

    First, I applaud both Mark and Stella who have contributed valuable thoughts. Now, loosely speaking, there are two kinds of religious. The first kind are the religious devout, mostly Saints, although they need not be so. Some of them we grew up with and are familiar with: The St Theresa of Avila; Therese Newmann, the stigmatist; Meister Eckhart, the mystic; St Augustine, the Father of Christianity to many; Julian of Norwich ...

    They never left the church and their adherence was to the principles of a particular faith and Teacher, like the Christ. They were steeped in spiritual experiences and all had very large expansive Hearts. The second kind stick to the letter of the law and like the young chicken or lamb, relies on it as their mother/father/God, for comfort and solace. Actually, it has its merits, as seen holistically, nothing is without purpose; nothing is outside of the divine.

    The God-lover is the spiritual person. He or she sees God as a life-tree with many branches, each a part of the same tree, playing its role in a significant way. It is like a flower-garden. The rose, daffodils, lavenders, tulips ...may all be together, but they have different fragrances and ultimately complement the entire garden.

    The God-lover has no problems with names and forms. What does it matter if one says Allah, another Jehovah and yet a third Brahman? All are flames of the Higher Light and this includes the atheist and agnostics, some of whom are exceptionally kind humans. Remember, there is only Spirit, expressing Itself in myriad ways, the same one Consciousness. Without this game in motion, Creation as we know it, will cease to exist.

    There are some in-betweens. They have problems with religion; with intolerance, fundamentalism and so forth. All this may also be necessary. When we see the Spiritual life as having different stages, like Kindergarten to University, then we begin to understand that all the stages are necessary. If we were all perfect right now, then where is the game, the divine Lila?

    I like this favourite aphorism of the visionary Seer Sri Chinmoy:

    "The purpose of religion is to fear God and obey God;
    The quintessence of Spirituality is to know God and become another God."

    Hope that this does not confuse you, as the same Seer, at whose feet I am sitting and have been sitting for 35 years, will tell you that there is only God. Ultimately, there is nothing else. Do you see why we should Love each other? We all spring from the same one Source.

    1. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I hear there are different pathways to spirituality and religion is one. I kinda' think there is a difference between a person who is religious and one who is dogmatic of doctrine, traditions, and practices.

    2. The0NatureBoy profile image59
      The0NatureBoyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Every discipline is a path to spirituality. Man don't realize dividing THE IS & keeping it divided with judgmental adjectives describing half of IT is our destiny until time to become spiritual. Man are destined to incarnate as all attributes fir

    3. profile image52
      ShawnDDavisposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you for adding to the conversation. wonderful response

    4. Ericdierker profile image48
      Ericdierkerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I wonder why I am religious. It does not complete me. Love is the only religion that is truly a religion. As Ghandijji and our Dalai Lama tell us there is only one who proclaims son of God. And there is no argument there.

    5. The0NatureBoy profile image59
      The0NatureBoyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      ED, Love is what James called Pure religion and undefiled. When love embraces the desired and undesired it's indifferent, when it embraces one and rejects the other it's judging. Religion purifies man's minds and finding purpose for the opposites.

    6. sharonselailongo profile image58
      sharonselailongoposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I have a relationship w/ God. His spirit resides in me. I talk to him daily. Spiritual. I'm Christian. I don't follow traditions of a religion. I try to love others as He loves me, unconditionally, and be forgiving of others as he has forgiven me.

  5. The0NatureBoy profile image59
    The0NatureBoyposted 6 years ago

    The two primary differences between a religious and a spiritual person is ...

    A religious person normally look at life from the perspective of judging the 180 degrees or less of the opposites accepting the 'taught by other man' dos and don'ts of them. Most of the time they do not see in both the desired [good] and undesired [evil] is the other when it takes both opposite to make the unit being judged.

    A spiritual person sees the whole view with the opposite integrated within both with one having more of a saturation than the other to create the illusion of what is desired and undesired. At one point the spiritual sees their joining point where the illusion of opposites does not appear but are balanced so neither opposite is seen unless looking back at either. An example is the 24 hour day, Between first-light and sunrise there is neither dark nor light, only the graduating from dark to the mid point of the transition and the graduating of light toward sunrise which is seen in reverse from sunset to dark.

    The religious see the differences as the whole while the spiritual sees the differences as something needed to magnify the parts producing the whole.

    1. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      I think I get your point using the analogy of dawn. There is the graduating changes of light until the source is visible and light is encompassing.

  6. BizGenGirl profile image90
    BizGenGirlposted 6 years ago

    I think the answer to this question really depends on how each individual person thinks about each type...

    For me personally, I tend to think of a "religious person" as someone who dogmatically follows a set of precepts laid out by an established religion which they are usually unwilling to question or which they use as an excuse for all the decisions they choose to make, whereas a spiritual person, which is what I consider myself to be, is someone who loosely holds various spiritual beliefs and/or has various spiritual practices that feel right for them, but which they don't hold to dogmatically and are generally willing to questions and/or change their views or practices from time to time.

    I also usually think of a religious person as someone who judges everyone else based on their loyalty to that persons religion, or their ability to fit within what that religious person believes everyone should be like, look like or act like, whereas a spiritual person tends not to use their spiritual practices to judge anyone else, and more or less just uses their spiritual beliefs as a guide for their own behaviors and desires for personal growth.

    Hope this helps! Great question smile

    1. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Good food to ponder and thanks for your insight.

    2. The0NatureBoy profile image59
      The0NatureBoyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      That is another way to say what I said. You took the guess work out of the process of understanding what I said. Thanks, I should have done that after saying what I did.

  7. jo miller profile image94
    jo millerposted 6 years ago

    A religious person associates with a group of people with similar beliefs about the nature of the universe, such as Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim.  One would hope that a religious person would also be a spiritual person.  So the two are not diametrically opposed.

    It has become sorta cool nowadays to say I am spiritual but not religious.  I'm always a little annoyed by that, because it usually is accompanied by a put down of those who are religious.  I would just ask that those who voice that opinion examine their beliefs.  That is best done, I believe, in community with others.  So, to answer your second question, I would say it is much harder to be a Christian without being religious.  Many of the basic tenets of the Christian faith is about living in community with others. 

    To answer some of the other responses here, I would like to point out that not all Christians are part of the dogmatic, right wing that has become so prominent (or loud) in the USA.  It is not the religion that I know and try to practice. I do that best in community.

    1. Ericdierker profile image48
      Ericdierkerposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Very well said. This new wave of opposition to religion is somewhat disconcerting. I write a sermon at least once a week here. I follow the tenants of a Christian religion but my online congregation may not. I like my religion.

    2. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thank you for your contribution. I agree the two are not diametrically opposed in the context of completely.

    3. Glenis Rix profile image95
      Glenis Rixposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      It seems to me that the difference between Christians and those who are spiritual is that the first of these groups believes in an omniscient creator whereas he second believe that the grace that we experience comes from within and is common to all

  8. Ericdierker profile image48
    Ericdierkerposted 6 years ago

    I have been giving this some thought. And it would appear to me that the difference only resides in the person practicing some kind of faith.I get all spiritual by using the "devotions and liturgies" of my religion. I get all religious trying to be spiritual.
    I just cannot do the bad bad bad religion notion and I cannot do the dogma verses ethereal deal.
    They do not compete, they are synergistic.
    But I get it for stay at home on Sunday Bill and never miss Sunday and Wednesday Agnes.
    So straight up on your question. If there is a difference for someone, I believe they are doing both wrong. As for Christians; if they cannot take the good from dogma, protocol, liturgy, hymns, group prayer and devotions and suggested readings then it is a sad deal. If God is Love and we choose to see the wrong in religion and not the good could we possibly live up to our most treasured 2 commandments if we cannot get along well enough to participate?

    1. tsmog profile image84
      tsmogposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      Thanks Eric. What I hear while may be incorrect is that they are not mutually exclusive. That was pointed where you shared they are synergistic. I kinda' think along that line too. I think religion leads toward spirituality . . . (No more space)

    2. The0NatureBoy profile image59
      The0NatureBoyposted 6 years agoin reply to this

      In many cases, Eric, the "dogma, protocol, liturgy, hymns, group prayer and devotions" contradict the meanings of the scriptures. However, they have purpose, like James' religion undefiled seeks answers and spirituality reveals the answers.


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