The Nuns of None

(I would like to apologize for the long absence from writing, I had some things happen in my life that took away any time I had to write. I hope to continue writing now and will try to continue to do a monthly article. A month gives me time to actually look into topics I would like to write about. A trait many bloggers and writers should learn. Now on with the post…)

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A closer look at America’s rapidly growing religious “nones”

The factors driving the growth of religious ‘nones’ in the U.S.

You might have heard from some about the “rise of the nones”.  What is meant by this phrase?  It is meant to describe the increase of those “who do not identify with a religious group” (Pew Research). Notice that this is what it is meant and that its not necessarily what is portrayed. For instance we can look at an article from National Geographic and see an interesting spin. A read through the post would show that the writer thinks those who are “nones” are also those who identify as atheists or agnostic. At least that is what I think is the overall idea, the writer does add a paragraph which reads:

“Within the ranks of the unaffiliated, divisions run deep. Some are avowed atheists. Others are agnostic. And many more simply don’t care to state a preference. Organized around skepticism toward organizations and united by a common belief that they do not believe, nones as a group are just as internally complex as many religions. And as with religions, these internal contradictions could keep new followers away.”

Some of the presuppostions in the article would make Van Til’s head spin. However I would commend the article for continuallly calling this group a “religion”. Any Christian apologists, I would think, would give the writer a gold star for that.

So let me lay down two proposed defintions of the rising group of “nones”.

A. Those who do not identify with any religous group.

B. Those who do not identify with any religous group, including atheists and agnostics.

Which is the correct definition?

Well who is to say that these are the only two options? Isn’t it also important how one defines “religous” or even what a “religion” is?

Which gets us to my main point which that these “nones” are still religious. You see, the “nones” are nothing new. Even if we take away the camps of atheism and agnosticism, which aren’t that new either, the “nones” are “spiritual but not religious”.

This coincides with certain interactions I’ve had.

My generation and younger are, if I may generalize a little bit, skeptical of organized religion if not religion itself. In the American intellectual landscape, many feel an ill-will towards the more “classical religions”. They flock to churches that actively seek to do away with tradition, orthodoxy, and liturgy and find religous groups that replace it with pageantry(all though this has been around for awhile) and works based preaching.

While I’m currently studying online at Covenant Baptist Theological Seminary, I also work and interact with the community around me. The way people react upon hearing my want to become a pastor is really interesting to me.  I’ve had people think it’s cool and they don’t even know what a pastor is. I also have had people wonder if I’m still able to think for myself. Sadly, there are also those who react negatively. Those who think and are so moved as to voice their displeasure or their sadness for me pursing the ministry are almost always younger.

Not only would they be considered “nones” they have also been hurt by churches.

The same churches that have replaced the gospel with works based preaching.

This is a whole other topic for another time though. What I’m getting at is that these people, my friends, my neighbors; are defiantly “not religous”.

Here is the interesting thing though: A lot of them are some of the most spiritual people I know.

Instead of a listening to a sermon, they’re watching Alan Watts videos on Youtube.

Instead of going to a Sunday Service, their liturgy is found in their Sunday morning yoga session.

Prayer is replaced with meditation (although I would say that they aren’t mutually exclusive)

And most important and something that is not really a new trend:

The Gospel is replaced with Works.

But wait doesn’t Alan Watts practice Buddism and didn’t Yoga descend from religous texts?

Conclusion

The “Nones” still have religous beliefs but a lot of them would not descibe themselves as religous. To them, it is the old faith of their parents that is religon. It is their new faith and beliefs that are spiritual. They know that they are broken, some would say it is written in their hearts. They also know that there are metaphysical and epsiemological truths out there.

We should pray for these nuns of none and be ambassadors of the Gospel for the glory of God.

I feel like I can continue on in upcoming posts so if you have any questions or thoughts that you would like me to cover let me know.

 

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3 thoughts on “The Nuns of None

  1. I have been following this trend. Seems among Gen Xrs and Millennials, the general trend is that people are tired of being lied to and having difficult truths glossed over for the sake of appealing to “seekers.” As a result, I see a mass migration of two different groups taking place. The first group are the unregenerate, or “nones” as Barna calls them. The second group are those who are migrating toward the traditions of the Christian faith that are less likely to sugar-coat hard truths. Some of these traditions are healthy, while others are not. A common denominator among them all is their commitment to preaching the word of God without apology. Thoughts?

    • I think this does work in a certain big picture context. I would point out that when we expand our gaze/scope to the first group being unregenerate and the second being those who migrate to the Christian Faith, perhaps we shouldn’t call it a trend but consider it to be “same as it ever was”.

      I hope that makes sense. I’m writing what comes fresh out of my mind right now (with minor edits of course).

      I see several different groups but they fit into the bigger two groups that you mentioned.

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