What is a personal religious faith? Is it merely a traditional faith to which one has made an individual commitment in some sense? Can a faith based on a historical beliefs and practices, which by nature discourage or even disallow thinking outside the box provide an environment in which an individually developed belief system could ever grow? These are very important questions for current day spiritually minded seekers.
The vast variety of people, cultures, and ideas, to which people today are exposed, serves only to reinforce the idea of diversity within humanity. Human share so much, but at the same time life experiences make as very different. Therefore the idea of anything being personal, implies that it will be different from many other persons and what they hold to be personal. For that reason, a truly personal faith cannot logically be the same for ever last human being.
The centuries’ long Christian evangelical effort has run up on this fact countless times. Whenever, Christianity has venture outside the confines of western civilization, the efforts to demand conformity to a foreign group faith has met resistance. To the extent the group faith of Christian Orthodoxy has been accepted in these removed parts of the world, local variations have been adopted to reflect the more personal beliefs of the local people. In that same sense, various Christian denominational groups have come into existence based on the unique beliefs of one person or a small group and then developed over time into a new group faith.
In my mind, if one actually seeks a personal faith within our cultural environment, it would require a very questioning spirit and a lot of hard work. We are all immersed from birth in the doctrines of Christian Orthodoxy (saved/ lost, heaven/hell, righteous/evil), so the quest for an individually developed and personally embraced faith is difficult. Anyone seeking that kind of faith has to unlearn a lot before there is any room for personalizing one’s faith. Additionally, an individual search for a belief system that works is a long term process. It doesn’t complete in an instant.
So it seems to me that we two types of faith systems. The typical religious group faith is a ready vehicle to launch our spiritual development; but, when and if we ever seek to grow further into a personal faith, that group faith system is often a hindrance instead of an aid. Any religious insistence on universal conformity to dogmas and rituals cannot provide the freedom necessary for individual spiritual development and a real personal faith.