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RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY

Religion verses spirituality

Nathan Uzorma Protus

“Sir, I was poisoned by my wife without my knowledge of same. The poison developed into a deadly sore that defied healing, while she took very good care of me to cover-up what she did. I never suspected her at all until I ordered your oil and did the prayer. The sore, which had lasted for 15 years started healing but not to my satisfaction, when I re-contacted you, I was urged to order your oil the second time, though I frowned at it but I finally did because I truly believe in you. I was discouraged by my wife not to order the oil the second time not knowing that she had an evil motive. Well, when I got the second oil and strictly followed the instruction, on the fourth day, by 3am my wife shouted and started confessing all the ills she has done to me. She also mentioned how she caused my present problem through witchcraft. She was crying as if she was beaten from sleep to conscious life. Sir, since after her confession, she has been sick and the sore has healed within 10 days; I feel so happy but please save my wife…I still love her.”

 

My brother in Christ, I am most grateful to God for using you to open my ways. It came unexpectedly. I have been suffering from the spirit of near-success syndrome for over 15 years. It was a thing that brought shame to my household to the extent that I was tempted to join a secret society. But after reading your column on several topics, I decided to hold my peace. When I contacted you, I was advised to order some bottles of your oil, which I did. To the glory of God, the problem of near-success syndrome ceased immediately and I am doing well in my business now; all those that refused to patronise me before have all come back. I don’t miss opportunities anymore. The most amazing thing was the experience of the woman who was indebted to me, she refused to pay me and I have as well forgotten all about the money. She was beaten from the dream world by some angels to pay me my money, which she did and had her peace thereafter. God is great my brother.” (Anonymous)

The term “spirituality” is copiously pregnant with different meanings. Any religion without spirituality is like tea without sugar and there is no religion without spirituality. Mental religion has reduced spirituality to zero level. Without core spirituality, the finished work of Christ in Christianity would be made a bugaboo.

I believe in spirituality even though it has been misunderstood by many. Many Christians complain that they do not find “spirituality” in their religion. Some people say that they are very spiritual but do not go to church. They find satisfaction in Zen practices, Yoga, Eastern mysticism, meditation and other esoteric practices, which an ordinary Christian should abhor.

The church, in seeking social relevance, has ignorantly embarked on the crucifixion of spirituality due to over-emphasis on materialism. Religion is a pointer to spirituality as the term ‘spirituality’ does not belong to one religion. We have Hindu spirituality, Jewish spirituality, Muslim spirituality and so on. When we talk of Christian spirituality, we are talking about our life with that of the spirit, the ways and manner we appear before the Most Holy. Yes, spirituality is our response to God revealed moment by moment in line with our voyage to advance, hence it is our life with the spirit.

However, spirituality is a term that has confused many in Christendom. From the New Testament perspective, the word refers to the “Life Force,” which comes from God and illuminates the spiritually committed child of God. “For the Christians, spirituality was a direct experience with God in life and action. Today, the term spirituality can be applied to any living religious system or ‘religion in action.’ It is also the expression of man’s response and the interpretation of his experience in relation to God. Thus, spirituality is man’s religious experience.”

Let me at this point etymologically X-ray the term ‘spirituality.’ Spirituality is of the Latin word “spiritualitas,” which means the state or nature of being spiritual. To be spiritual, therefore, means to be related to the human spirit or the soul, which is intangible to God, who is spirit incarnate. In his book, “An Introduction to Christian Spirituality,” Fr. F. Antonisamy states, “Spirituality can be explained as the nature of the spirit or the soul or the spirit of God or the nature of God … spirituality can also refer to the attitudes of the mind one has towards the ethical or moral codes or standards or values or the norms observed in society for the sake of common good.”

It is of note that a careful look at spirituality justifies any belief in human spirit or the soul, God or the Holy Spirit, and the ethical or moral values. Anyone who believes in any of the above is said to be ‘spiritual.’ As J. Aumann O.P. infers, “In its widest sense, spirituality refers to any religious or ethical value that is concretised as an attitude or spirit from which one’s actions flow. This concept of spirituality is not restricted to any particular religion, it applies to any person who has a belief in the divine or transcendent, and fashions a lifestyle according to one’s religious convictions.”

The above brings us to proper Christian spirituality. In the words of St. Anselm, “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand.” In understanding Christian spirituality, Soren Kierkegaard, in his book, “Fear and Trembling and the Book on Adler,” states that “the ethical is the universal, and as such it is again the divine.”

As stated earlier, that belief in the soul, Holy Spirit or God and ethical values are steps to spiritual life, one is tempted to see how belief in the soul could justify such. Before discussing Christian spirituality proper, it is imperative at this point to briefly and bravely X-ray in synopsis what the soul is all about. In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The philosophy of 6,000 years has not searched the chambers and magazines of the soul.” Yes, to fathom the unfathomable, we hitherto plunge into mystery, the supreme abode of the soul.

According to the Greek philosopher, Diogenes, it was Xenophanes who first equated breath with soul, using the word psyche with its colorful association of coolness, bellows, and butterfly. After about 23 centuries, that is, in 1828, Charles Nodier wrote in Paris, “The different names for the soul, among nearly all people, are just so many breath variations and onomatopoeic expression for breathing.”

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Tokunbo David
Tokunbo David

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