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About one’s own brand of spirituality

October 26, 2017

In Diane Sawyer’s ABC interview with Ashley Judd about Harvey Weinstein, Ms. Judd said that years ago she had put her life into the hands of a loving God. I did a quick search online to see if I could find out what her beliefs are, and I found that she is a Christian and a Baptist. I also read this in one article:

Judd’s conception of divinity and her role in the universe is clearly something she’s given a lot of thought to. Her real religious awakening came thanks to the combination of depression therapy and the writings of New Age guru Eckhart Tolle. It was this battle with her own demons that gave Judd the perspective needed to find her own brand of spirituality. (https://hollowverse.com/ashley-judd/)

Now, let me say quickly that I am not posting this in order to critique Ashley Judd’s beliefs. There isn’t enough in this article to really know what she believes; I am reluctant to accept at face value what reporters say about Christians’ beliefs; and it isn’t my interest to attack individuals. So I don’t want this to become a thread about Ashley Judd or Hollywood or New Age or Eckhart Tolle. I am posting this because of the phrase at the end of the quote: “to find her own brand of spirituality.”

That phrase carries the idea that religion is something that comes from us. That is the common secular notion of religion: it is something individuals or groups create for some kind of benefit to themselves. And it may be true of many religious people, whether consciously so or not. But Christians need to be aware and settled in the fact that what we proclaim doesn’t come from us; it isn’t our invention. It has been revealed by God. That is a crucial distinction that can make talking about what we believe to non-Christians so difficult. Secularists are talking about something they think is personal and individual, but we are talking about something that is universal truth. We don’t get to invent for ourselves what our beliefs are. That doesn’t mean there won’t be differences between Christians because for a variety of reasons there are differences in our understandings of what the Bible means on certain things. But as with morality, this isn’t basically a subjective, personal matter. There is an authority above us, and we receive it as best as we can. It is either true or it is false; it cannot be sequestered in the personal, subjective realm where true and false have no meaning.
Incidentally, one thing we can do to keep from fostering the secularist idea is to avoid saying things like, “What I believe personally is ______” or “It is my own personal belief that _____” unless we are talking about something that is not a core truth of Christianity or can’t be clearly inferred from Scripture and sound doctrine. In fact, I would avoid using “personally” in stating one’s beliefs altogether to prevent misunderstanding. It isn’t our “personal” belief that Jesus is the divine Son of God who died for us for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life, and that everyone is lost apart from him. To give in to the contemporary sensitivity toward universal truth claims about religion and morality by using the qualifier “personal” is to throw in the towel from the start.
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