A La Carte

You will never break through if you keep on seeing spirituality as an à la carte menu or a custom-tailored suit. People frequently assert a claim that goes something like this: Rather than being a part of any established faith, I have found my own faith by choosing what works from many different sources.

Two problems with this:

1. What is the doctrine of your modular religion? What is its scripture? The claim of a self-assembled spirituality leaves you with nowhere to go and no means to grow. What is the body of sustenance that would enable you to pursue even deeper understanding than the pieces of belief you have chosen so far?

Even if you pursue a church’s teaching and find yourself discovering the limitations of that teaching, or the reasons why it does not answer your searching, then that outcome would still be more fruitful than simply refusing to engage, or refusing to seek after a faith that goes beyond what you know.

2. Who has the final say? If you have the capacity to identify which elements of this or that spiritual teaching are good—which elements really and truly represent what God would have us believe—then it must be that you have a pre-existing understanding of these matters that is on par with God’s. Moreover, in exercising this capacity, you claim an authority that is greater than God’s, because you are the judge his stuff has to go through before it can be certified as valid.

God began the Ten Commandments with this one: “Have no other gods before me.” One’s own uplifted self can be the “other god” that this command refers to. God did not give this command for his own sake. (He’s doing fine.) Rather, the reason we find our other gods and lower them down is not because those other gods get in God’s way, but because they get in our way. My self-selected spirituality, this choice that seems to make me distinct, is actually a self-imposed curtailment that keeps me small.