Why have millions left organized religion, but are still interested in spirituality? by Dr. Steve McSwain

Why have millions left organized religion, but are still interested in spirituality?

There is in everyone the longing to know intimacy with the Divine. The only difference between people—all people—is that a few are aware of this longing, while most are not. For those who are not, life is a constant challenge, even a frustration, as they search for God everywhere but the one and only place where God could ever be found – which is, inside of you.

Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” In spite of this rather clear clue as to where to look to find God, many mistake their inner feelings of discontent, restlessness, or desire for happiness and fulfillment as an indicator they need to do something. Our culture’s answer to this inner dilemma is to find the right career. Or, to find and fall in love with the right partner. But even these events – as meaningful as they may be – fail to grant anything more than a temporary, impermanent peace.

Now, what happens in most religions, Christianity notwithstanding, is that people go to church looking for God, thinking she might be found there. And, the church perpetrates, as well as perpetuates, the illusion that God can be. How so? By suggesting to people, “We have the answer. We alone have the answer. What we believe is right or, at the least, a little more right than anyone else believes. So, attend our church, believe as we believe, think as we think, do as we do, live as we live and, of course, give us your money, and all will be well with your soul.”

But it isn’t so. Over time, this nonsense has created in people the expectation that, if they’ll do all these things, they’ll find God. Instead of helping to know God, however, these expectations, rules, dogmas, doctrines, and beliefs have sucked the spiritual life right out of their souls. The church too frequently confuses beliefs for faith and, in fundamentalist churches, the beliefs are then imposed on believing and unbelieving people alike. In fact, that would be a pretty accurate definition of religious fundamentalism – the confusion of beliefs for faith and imposing those beliefs on others. That’s what’s happening today in both Islam and in Christianity – the difference is only the degree with which the imposition occurs.

The American Religious Survey tells us that as many as 34 million Americans today have left organized reIigion. For the majority of these, it is the Christian religion they’re leaving or, more accurately, the church’s dysfunctional version of Christianity that they are leaving.

And, that’s the point. People can leave the church—they have, they are, and more will, as long as the dysfunction and insanity I’m describing goes on. What people cannot leave, however, is their inner feeling of discontent, emptiness, or the longing to cultivate a deep spiritual union with the Divine. So, in recent years, as westerners have had greater exposure to eastern religions, many have turned to other religions. What many of these seekers do not know is this: the dysfunction they met and left in the western church is the same sort of madness they will likely find in many other religions as well.

So, it is important to understand, I did not write this book as a disgruntled former minister looking to attack either Christianity or the church. I wrote this book to tell people what took me half a lifetime to figure out. There has only ever been one place you will go to find the deepest desires of your heart fulfilled – and that is within yourself. That’s what Jesus meant when he said, “The kingdom is within you.” The Buddha said this, too. Even the Jewish rabbis have a saying that goes, “God has but one synagogue – the human heart.” I wrote this book, The Enoch Factor to show people where to look—the human heart—to find what they’re looking for.

The Science of Happiness

A brief video of a recent workshop conducted in Naples, Florida on the topic The Science of Happiness.


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