Here are some of the terms I use in this blog, just to be clear what I mean.

Church – the Body of Christ, consisting of all believers, decided by Jesus. Without a capital (church) it refers to a congregation or denomination (see “Religion” below).

God’s Word – A translation of the Bible published in 1995 by God’s Word to the Nations. It is not the best (there is no such thing), but I prefer to use one version in this blog.

Paraclete – the Greek for what is translated Comforter, the Holy Spirit. I prefer it because it is more like a name than a spooky something. It means, “The One called alongside”.

Prophet – not primarily a predictor of future events, but the calling and office of persons who serve God by calling the fallen faithful back to humble submission to Creator.

Religion –  Institutional, cultural, and political organizations which have authority vested in human power enforced by religious law and regulations, and membership restricted to those who pledge loyalty to the bureaucratic entity.

Theology – more technically refers to systematic theology, humans using their intellect to define God without any obligation to emphasize the futility of such an exercise.

The Way – a term used to describe the movement started by Jesus as used in the Book of Acts. It is not connected in any way to any modern religious organization.

I think I would like to be clear about how I use the terms “spiritual life” and “religious life”.

Religious Life :A religious life follows the rules, expectations and traditions of a particular group or system. A Baptist will view baptism according to the denominational teaching and reject the Anglican (Episcopal) view outright. A religion builds its monuments and decorates them in a certain way which another group might declare as offensive.

Religions have in-house regulations (The Manual, Canon, Book of Forms, Constitution, etc) and when in process the leadership will open religious law books rather than the Bible. Religion is undisturbed when their process moves contrary to Scripture (such as ignoring Matthew 18:15-17 in favour of a human resources model.)

Spiritual Life :A spiritual life follows Jesus Christ in a radical way. Anything, or anybody, that demands loyalty, holds to opinion (no matter how well informed or presented) or requires membership, either by race, gender, social standing or creed will be rejected. The spiritual life stands strongly on a literal (or better, as literal as reasonable since the Bible also has illustrations and poetry that one must read differently than other parts, for meaning. No hierarchy of worthiness for reading is meant, of course). The spiritual life enacts discipleship for service in godly love, and does not consider personal profit, power or advancement in the motivation.

The Distinction :In an overly simplistic way, religion is orderly and, therefore, restrictive, while spirituality is chaotic and free in the sense of Jesus’ teaching of the individual’s call to service. The spiritual life is not libertarian, however,  which God clearly rejects as Paul recorded, “What should we say then? Should we continue to sin so that God’s kindness will increase? That’s unthinkable! As far as sin is concerned, we have died. So how can we still live under sin’s influence?” (Romans 6:1-2 God’s Word). Also, spirituality follows a personal discipline of life in accord with the model Jesus set. Religion emphasizes doing the right rituals and ceremonies in the right way at the right time.

Depending on the survey, 70% of Canadians believe Jesus is the Son of God. But 20% go to church. That means 13.5 million Canadians do not see the institution of religion as the place for spiritual life. Obviously I’m not the only one to make a distinction!