My Religious Experience is More Valid Than Yours. Nyah! :-p~~~

Riffing on a comment made in response to my post about the validity of religious experiences , I have a question to ask you folks.

If I have a mystical experience (or some other theophany), I say that I experienced some aspect of the Holy Trinity. A Hindu might say that he experienced Vishnu or Ganesh. A New Ager might say she saw a ghost. A conspiracy nut might say he was abducted by aliens. Let's assume for a moment that everyone who claims to have had a religious/mystical experience has actually had one. How do we know who's attribution is correct? Specifically, how do we Christians know that we are experiencing God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit? What proof have we that we are more right than the equally convinced adherents of other religions?


Comments 9

  1. dlw wrote:

    I think any prophecy needs to be checked to see if it coincides with what is taught in scripture and we are to be honest with ourselves about the nature of such experiences.

    We must point away from ourselves and towards God in whatever is brought upon our hearts to share with our sistren and brethren in Christ.


    Posted 09 Nov 2005 at 4:34 am
  2. John wrote:

    yet the scriptures are merely recorded renditions of such experiences. Relying on them shifts the dilemna, it does not resolve it.

    Posted 09 Nov 2005 at 6:05 am
  3. Fred K. wrote:

    One might consult a wise spiritual director or perhaps, the Ignatius’s rules for the discernment of spirits


    Posted 09 Nov 2005 at 6:10 am
  4. Tom Smith wrote:

    It kinda depends on what you mean by a “religious experience.” Just a really sweet lucid dream, or something more like what happened at Fatima?

    Another thing one could do to verify a religious experience would be to look at previous religious experiences of others. Compare your experience to, say, that of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque or St. Bridget of Sweden (I think. . . maybe).

    Posted 09 Nov 2005 at 7:08 am
  5. The Waffling Anglican wrote:

    I don’t think you can ascertain religious truth from personal mystical experience. It can _help_ flesh out the religion you have – like dlw said, if it doesn’t contradict scripture or the historic teaching of the church and it helps you understand something, go with it; otherwise forrget it.

    I think you have to evaluate religious truth on the basis of the truth claims of the religion itself. I would submit that Christianity (a) has the strongest historical basis; (b) best fits with the realities of human nature; and (c) is not something anyone would have ever come up with by themselves. That’s a lot longer discussion than can be carried out on a blog, I’m afraid 🙂 matter of fact we’ve been arguing that one foro going on 2000 years.

    Posted 09 Nov 2005 at 4:42 pm
  6. gbm3 wrote:

    When I think of religious experience, I think of events that physically happened in real time and space.

    Mystical experiences are all hunky dory, but these are all personal.

    Some examples:

    Now I am reminding you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you indeed received and in which you also stand.
    Through it you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.
    For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures;
    that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures;
    that he appeared to Kephas, then to the Twelve.
    After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
    After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
    Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me.
    For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
    But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God (that is) with me.
    Therefore, whether it be I or they, so we preach and so you believed. (1 Corr 15:1-11)

    So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
    Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
    Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
    Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20: 25-27)

    On [Saul’s] journey, as he was nearing Damascus, a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him.
    He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
    He said, “Who are you, sir?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
    Now get up and go into the city and you will be told what you must do.”
    The *** men who were traveling with him stood speechless *** [gbm3], for they heard the voice but could see no one.
    Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him to Damascus.
    For three days he was unable to see, and he neither ate nor drank.
    There was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias, and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
    The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight and ask at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is there praying,
    and (in a vision) he has seen a man named Ananias come in and lay (his) hands on him, that he may regain his sight.”
    But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil things he has done to your holy ones in Jerusalem.
    And here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call upon your name.”
    But the Lord said to him, “Go, for this man is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before Gentiles, kings, and Israelites,
    and I will show him what he will have to suffer for my name.”
    So Ananias went and entered the house; laying his hands on him, he said, “Saul, my brother, the Lord has sent me, Jesus who appeared to you on the way by which you came, that you may regain your sight and be filled with the holy Spirit.”
    Immediately things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. He got up and was baptized,
    and when he had eaten, he recovered his strength. He stayed some days with the disciples in Damascus,
    and he began at once to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. (Acts 9: 3-20)

    I’m not saying that if you don’t have an experience like those above, it didn’t necessarily happen.

    What other religions claim physicality of the same revelation to many (at the same time)?

    Posted 09 Nov 2005 at 5:26 pm
  7. Stiegemeyer wrote:

    Untitled document You've pointed out exactly why a Christian must never base his faith on personal religious experience or feeling. We are too easily deceived the Enemy can appear as an angel of light.

    The apostles did not preach a gospel based on their personal inner experiences of God. They preached as literal eyewitnesses to the resurrection of Jesus.

    Posted 10 Nov 2005 at 10:39 pm
  8. Tyler Simons wrote:

    Untitled document Waffling Anglican, who knows how to pick a denomination, if I do say so myself, says:

    I would submit that Christianity (a) has the strongest historical basis; (b) best fits with the realities of human nature; and (c) is not something anyone would have ever come up with by themselves.

    I just don't like the feel of these kinds of arguments. I'm not opposed on principle to evaluating different religions, but how do you reall find out the facts behind the questions you ask?

    How does one determine the strength of a historical basis? What are the criteria involved? Isn't there quite a bit of debate over what, exactly the realities of human nature are? How can we understand the category of "something no one could come up with by themself?" I, personally, have a rather broad notion of revelation, and believe that there's no way that John Coltrane could have come up with "A Love Supreme" or that Shakespeare's entire oeuvre would be possible were they acting alone.

    Posted 11 Nov 2005 at 12:43 am
  9. Adrian wrote:

    I’m not sure that it matters.

    This isn’t a contest of personal religious experiences, and unless necessary to avoid scandal, I don’t think it’s practical nor profitable to go around evaluating everyone’s personal religious experiences.

    Further, I don’t think it’s of value to focus efforts on “proving” one’s personal religious experiences to others–it sorta misses the point. In certain circumstances, however, it can be helpful to relay those experiences to others.

    Posted 12 Nov 2005 at 2:33 am

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