Original Research - Special Collection: Biblical Spirituality

Religion and spirituality: What are the fundamental differences?

brimadevi van Niekerk
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 74, No 3 | a4933 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v74i3.4933 | © 2018 Brimadevi van Niekerk | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 14 February 2018 | Published: 30 May 2018

About the author(s)

brimadevi van Niekerk, Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History, and Missiology, University of South Africa, South Africa


Some Victorian evolutionary thinkers, such as James Frazer, theorised that humanity’s mental stages are characterised by magic, followed by religion, culminating in science. Put another way, the notion of humanity’s encounter with the sacred in society will eventually retreat, giving way to secular conditions, and that science and rationality would triumph as a more persuasive means of satisfying human needs. In this first foray in explorations on spirituality and religion, this article asks what the fundamental differences between religion and spirituality are, and will examine the aspects of spirituality that are freely accessible and freely chosen and that are uneasy with religion, by looking at some of the constructed borders that result in religion becoming narrow, rigid, prescriptive and less attractive. The article then examines how the phenomenon of spirituality is creating new paradigms of consciousness. It draws on the literature on religion, spirituality, sociology and anthropology, and concludes that religion will not go away despite the efforts of secularisation.


Religion; Spirituality; Secularisation; Comparative Religion


Total abstract views: 5305
Total article views: 4642


Crossref Citations

1. Spiritual care for clients with mental illness from an Islamic background: Nursing students' perspectives
Norah M. Alyahya, Shahad Alanazi
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing  year: 2024  
doi: 10.1111/jpm.13054