Need a New Acronym? SBNR — Spiritual But Not Religious

We’ve all seen and heard the short acronyms added to the English language thanks to texting.




Now here’s a new one to add to the lexicon which has particular significance to Christians.


What is that, you would legitimately ask?

Spiritual But Not Religious.

The fact that Americans are redefining their spirituality on their own terms in greater numbers is nothing new. In a CNN interview, Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor of a national Catholic magazine, appears to have hit the nail on the on the head whether you’re a Catholic or a Protestant, a conservative Baptist or a liberal Lutheran.

The answer in his view is overblown egos.

“Being spiritual but not religious can lead to complacency and self-centeredness,” he said.

Without a doubt it’s easier to set faith on your own terms than those spelled out in the Bible, or sacred texts of other faiths which claim exclusivity.

“I don't need to define myself to any community by putting myself in a box labeled Baptist, or Catholic, or Muslim,” New York City resident Heather Canou said. “When I die, I believe all my accounting will be done to God, and that when I enter the eternal realm, I will not walk through a door with a label on it.”

It would be nice if were that easy, wouldn’t it?

Martin counterpoints by making what would seem like an otherwise obvious assertion.

“Religion is hard,” he said. “Sometimes it's just too much work. People don't feel like it. I have better things to do with my time. It's plain old laziness.”

Lazy or apathetic, self-centered or perhaps the American tradition of self-reliance morphed into the spiritual realm, the reasoning is far easier to find than the solution.

One of our pastor’s favorite sayings is one that rings very true in this instance. An overwhelming number of people self-identify themselves as Christians, undoubtedly plenty of people who are also SBNR. When someone poses to him the oft-stated maxim, “I don’t need to go to church to be a Christian.” His response is, “Perhaps, but not for long.”

The aspect of community is huge.

So, too, is the New Testament.

For a biblical reference, perhaps the easiest explanation lies in John 14:6.

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