Christianity is in a worldwide crisis. European countries are full of empty churches, and the United States is not far behind: studies suggest that barely eighteen percent of Americans regularly go to church. Meanwhile, 27% of Americans say they are “spiritual but not religious,” which is an eight-percentage-point increase in that category in just five years. Clearly something big is happening, and from the perspective of my email in-box the problem with Christianity seems to be that people are hungrier now than ever before for genuine spiritual learning. And the practice of traditional Christianity is an active obstacle to spiritual growth.
For people who grew up as Christians, the notion that Christianity is anti-spiritual seems counterintuitive. Isn’t growing spiritually the point of even being a Christian ? Most Americans see it as a cultural equation: Religious = Spiritual. We cannot conceive of what spirituality without religion even might be.
To help you if you are struggling to square that old equation with your needs as a seeker, here is a new set of definitions that is based in what we have been learning from the wiser and more spiritually-developed people that we used to think were dead:
So spiritual growth is a function of what we might call spiritual physics. Whatever we do that raises our personal vibration away from fear and toward more perfect love enables us to grow spiritually, while anything we do that makes us fearful, angry, resentful, selfish, ashamed, or even prideful will lower our vibration and make us more unloving.
And therein lies the problem. Christianity as it was first developed nearly two millennia ago is steeped in fear and guilt and in separations between people. We are taught to fear God, to fear the Devil and hell, and to fear being judged and condemned, even for trivial transgressions; and we are taught that we are “the elect,” that other people are condemned, and that we must separate ourselves from them. Horribly, we even are taught that God loves us so little that God cannot forgive us unless Jesus dies barbarically in order to redeems us. If there is anything more antithetical to spiritual elevation than that particular belief, I cannot imagine what it might be! We now know from those we used to think were dead that not a single one of these teachings is true. Indeed, we now know that these false teachings all are actively un-spiritual. They work powerfully to lower our spiritual vibrations.
This disaster is not Jesus’s fault! His Gospel teachings are the most perfect method ever given to humankind for achieving spiritual growth by the elevation of our personal consciousness vibrations. My book, The Fun of Growing Forever, shows you how well those teachings work, and how quickly! But Christianity doesn’t emphasize the Gospel teachings. Instead, it concentrates on teaching us fear, submission, and separation. That the spiritually hungry are leaving Christianity in droves is really not surprising.
Many disaffected Christians have turned to eastern religious traditions like meditation and yoga. These practices are said to be spiritually helpful, but they take time and effort to learn and to practice; and that turns out to present another problem. One of the effects of genuine spiritual growth is the gradual reduction of the me-me-me selfishness that rings in people’s minds when they are vibrating more toward fear, shame, and separation. We call it the ego, and the fact that we identify with it is part of its trickery: it is not who we are, but rather it is just a very-low-vibration illusion. A Course in Miracles is a powerful tool for vanquishing the ego altogether, which is why I recommend it so highly. Meditation and yoga might be helpful too, but it turns out that the better we are at these practices, the more they bolster that troublesome ego.
So, where does that leave those of us who are eager for rapid spiritual growth so we can make this incarnation our last necessary trip back to earth-school? As we study the afterlife evidence and the truths about the greater reality that have been given to us by elevated beings, eventually we come to realize that no religion can help people to grow spiritually. Wow, it feels amazing to write those words! I was a zealous Christian into my fifties, so coming at last to see how harmful Christian teachings are to the faithful was the most wrenching experience of my life. If you feel betrayed as I felt betrayed, please know that the essence of Christianity is supposed to be Jesus, and Jesus is the best spiritual teacher of all!
You really don’t need to practice a religion. If spiritual growth is your goal, then all you need is a much closer walk with the genuine Jesus of the Gospels. He confirms for us that all the rigid heaviness of Christianity is the wrong path when He says, Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (MT 11:29-30). He promises to give us the truth if we will ask Him for it. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8). And He gloriously affirms for all time the truth of His Gospel teachings on love and forgiveness. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32).