I’ve been on an online dating site and in filling out your profile you have various choices when it comes to your faith. A common one I see chosen is “spiritual but not religious.” That of course could mean just about anything.
One woman I corresponded with reported one night that she had just returned from a run in the foothills and added “that is my church.”
I get it how being out in the beauty of nature can move you, touch you, and be a spiritual experience. In fact that is very Biblical with the qualification that the “spiritual experience” should be your being moved to praise the Creator for His creation. Nature is God’s creation. When in nature we are in the presence of God but not just when we are in nature.
Even the unbeliever has a soul meant for fellowship with God. What they are feeling in nature is the awe of God’s creation but instead of worshiping the God who created nature they worship the creation. Their “spiritual experience” is not with our Creator. They are not praising Jesus Christ.
Church is the gathering of God’s people to worship Him. Church is a group of believers not a building but experiencing the awe of God’s creation is not church. As a believer you can and certainly should worship God when moved by the awe of His creation but that is still not church.
So sad though that people experience the awe of creation yet do not know the Creator. The handiwork of God lies before them and they do not realize it. Romans 1 says they are without excuse. If they can look at the universe and the vastness of God’s creation and not believe in Him then they are blind.
Usually when people describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” it means they have no concept of a personal God. They feel something spiritual but not toward God. In a few cases it may be believers that have had bad church experiences and for now are not attending church. To me it’s a red flag. Asking what they mean by it is always interesting.