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Spiritual Experience And The Bible As God's Word


dibby
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Hi people.

It seems to me that alot of people who become christians do so because of some kind of personal spiritual experience/encounter. I myself went forward at a rally as a teenager to "give my life to Christ". I felt a tremendous urge to go up, and shaking experience which I interpreted as the "holy spirit calling me". I now realise that whilst I was having an experience, that did NOT mean that the Bible and, what the preacher was saying, was true. I just rooted my experience in what the preacher said because my mind was looking for a reason to explain my experience. For instance, a typical "sinners prayer" starts something like:' I accept I,m a sinner and that you sent your son to die for me. I accept Jesus into my life etc etc', (by inference we then accept the veracity of the bible as taught by the preacher) Why is that true just because we are told it is? For four years I embraced the christian evangelical faith. During that time I would sometimes experience lovely feelings of love, beauty etc whilst praying and reading certain passages from the Bible. However there were other times when I felt confused, guilty and unworthy. The feeling was in our church that to be a good christian you need to accept the whole Bible as the word of God, not just part.

 

Now, I have learnt so much since those days. I am not a christian fundamentalist now. I am of gnostic/mystic persuasion.

 

Human spiritual experience seems to be a universal phenomenon. Why, just because you have an experience of the "Divine" do you have to accept the whole Bible as factual? What about those experiences in the context of other faiths/beliefs?

Throughout human history people have used myth and story to guide their inner journey and lift their minds to higher things.( Some used shamanic drugs too, but thats another story!)Why is the Jesus story any different to say, the story of Osiris or Dionysus dying and resurrecting from the dead, or any other of the myths in the ancient world?

 

My main point is: you can,t reasonably use personal inner feelings as evidence of factual events. That doesn't negate them, or make them less important to the person. It's just that I believe reason is the most reliable vehicle for guiding us into what is factual in the outside world.

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I agree with what you said, but I would add that we are deluding ourselves to attatch any meaning (including mystical) whatsoever to these experiences. I think our brains play tricks on us, and we are not yet smart enough to see the real from the illusion.

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I agree with what you said, but I would add that we are deluding ourselves to attatch any meaning (including mystical) whatsoever to these experiences. I think our brains play tricks on us, and we are not yet smart enough to see the real from the illusion.

Could you laborate Pandora? What do you mean by the real from the illusion?

Buddhistcommunist when you say that things felt from christianity are self inflicted...what do you mean?

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Now, I have learnt so much since those days. I am not a christian fundamentalist now. I am of gnostic/mystic persuasion.

 

Human spiritual experience seems to be a universal phenomenon. Why, just because you have an experience of the "Divine" do you have to accept the whole Bible as factual? What about those experiences in the context of other faiths/beliefs?

Throughout human history people have used myth and story to guide their inner journey and lift their minds to higher things.( Some used shamanic drugs too, but thats another story!)Why is the Jesus story any different to say, the story of Osiris or Dionysus dying and resurrecting from the dead, or any other of the myths in the ancient world?

 

My main point is: you can,t reasonably use personal inner feelings as evidence of factual events. That doesn't negate them, or make them less important to the person. It's just that I believe reason is the most reliable vehicle for guiding us into what is factual in the outside world.

 

Hello Dibby....

 

I am also a contemplative Christian. I've been practicing meditation since I was 17 years old. Some of those years have been outside of Christianity. Others have been within Christianity.

 

I find my "experiences" are equally as valid within Christianity, as they have been outside of Christianity.

 

Christianity is a path - the contemplative path of Christianity is wonderful and as long as one looks at the journey as a human journey - not limited to Christianity (or any other meditative tradition) then you will find much wisdom there.

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Now, I have learnt so much since those days. I am not a christian fundamentalist now. I am of gnostic/mystic persuasion.

 

Human spiritual experience seems to be a universal phenomenon. Why, just because you have an experience of the "Divine" do you have to accept the whole Bible as factual? What about those experiences in the context of other faiths/beliefs?

Throughout human history people have used myth and story to guide their inner journey and lift their minds to higher things.( Some used shamanic drugs too, but thats another story!)Why is the Jesus story any different to say, the story of Osiris or Dionysus dying and resurrecting from the dead, or any other of the myths in the ancient world?

 

My main point is: you can,t reasonably use personal inner feelings as evidence of factual events. That doesn't negate them, or make them less important to the person. It's just that I believe reason is the most reliable vehicle for guiding us into what is factual in the outside world.

 

Hello Dibby....

 

I am also a contemplative Christian. I've been practicing meditation since I was 17 years old. Some of those years have been outside of Christianity. Others have been within Christianity.

 

I find my "experiences" are equally as valid within Christianity, as they have been outside of Christianity.

 

Christianity is a path - the contemplative path of Christianity is wonderful and as long as one looks at the journey as a human journey - not limited to Christianity (or any other meditative tradition) then you will find much wisdom there.

Hi Open minded

I agree. The trouble is , I feel, that the fundamentalist/evangelicals have "annexed" christianity and turned it into the intolerant, superstitious claptrap that we have today. They have also self righteously set the limits of what a "true" christian is to within very narrow parameters. However, I believe this began in the early days of the church, when a political faction decided the beliefs and canon of scripture. I no longer identify as a christian, but can see the beauty in the original story, which I believe is an allegory of spiritual awakening.

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Hi Open minded

I agree. The trouble is , I feel, that the fundamentalist/evangelicals have "annexed" christianity and turned it into the intolerant, superstitious claptrap that we have today. They have also self righteously set the limits of what a "true" christian is to within very narrow parameters. However, I believe this began in the early days of the church, when a political faction decided the beliefs and canon of scripture. I no longer identify as a christian, but can see the beauty in the original story, which I believe is an allegory of spiritual awakening.

 

Hello Dibby:

 

Man - if that ain't the truth. You'll want to check out the "One Verse at a time" thread. Things have gotten pretty interesting with Sub_Zero the last 4-5 pages.

 

I've run into his attitude for years. Since I'm so actively involved in a Contemplative Christian group and interfaith dialog - my name is known in the local community. I've run into Sub_Zero before, just under different names and sizes.

 

It's quite sad, really.....

 

But - this thread isn't about Sub. I'm interested - what books have you read on contemplative Christianity?

 

Do you read Father Keating, how about Wayne Teasdale's The Mystic Heart. It's a great read by the way. I consider it my best read for 2004 - the year I first read it. The Mystic Heart is about interspirituality. It is fantastic.

 

Have you read John of the Cross, Therese of Avila, The Cloud of Unknowing, etc ???

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These so-called "spiritual experiences", I've observed, are mostly emotion-based and unreliable. How many people have given themselves to different religions and causes besides Xianity simply because of the propagandizing they get at different events? People, no matter how intelligent or not, can be persuaded by the right advertising.

 

Xianity owes much of its success to plain ol' advertising.

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These so-called "spiritual experiences", I've observed, are mostly emotion-based and unreliable. How many people have given themselves to different religions and causes besides Xianity simply because of the propagandizing they get at different events? People, no matter how intelligent or not, can be persuaded by the right advertising.

 

Xianity owes much of its success to plain ol' advertising.

 

Hello Wolfheart:

 

Maybe we better figure out if we're on the same page before we discuss specific "spritual experiences".

 

You may want to check out the following threads.

 

Leaving Jesus is not leaving God ... it picks up around page 7-8

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?show...%20Jesus&st=160

 

And

 

UnHoliness of the Bible thread - specifically you'll want to start at the top of page 12

http://www.ex-christian.net/index.php?showtopic=5716&st=220

 

I really will discuss this in more depth if you'd like. But, these threads may give you some background as to what I mean when I say "spiritual".

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Well, while I haven't completely made up my mind about the true nature of meditation, I suspect that the higher levels of consciousness reached are merely different brain states. I do not place any meaning on them whatsoever. They do not lead to any sort of enlightenment nor do they give us a clue as to what our soul looks like, because we have no souls.

 

The illusion, to me, is that as humans, we tend to place meaning on everything... including perfectly natural things that happen to our bodies like meditation. The real is that we are only body and mind, only matter, and the illusion, to me, is that we place all sorts of meaning on these phenomenon that make it look like we are more than that.

 

I hope that makes sense.

 

Maybe someday I will have an experience that will lead me to think otherwise, but for now, I trust the science that has been done in this area... and it is very clear that naturally, our brain is the source of everything we perceive... including non-perception in meditation.

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I certainly agree that the brain is involved in coscious experience and can be studied as to what it is doing in certain states of mind. However, knowing what a brain is doing does not give scientists access to one of your thoughts; for instance if you imagine a rose that is something only you can experience.

We say the world of matter is real.....but science doesn,t even know what matter is. Particles and/or waves apparently. But particles of what? :scratch: And what is waving? So scientists invent a theory (give meaning to) that which is utterly mysterious. We need our stories to guide our lives and to give meaning and structure to our experience of life. BUT the story is only a story!! Thats where fundamentalists of all persuasions go wrong: they mistake the story for ultimate truth....the ultimate idolatry.

People seem to have had experiences ie out of body, near death experiences which may indicate that something more than just the brain is involved. People have been wired up to brain scanners for operations, which showed no brain activity, but they have come back and told the nurses and doctors what they were doing, or had near death experiences. I think this kind of experience is interesting. Check out The International Association for Near Death studies.

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Human spiritual experience seems to be a universal phenomenon. Why, just because you have an experience of the "Divine" do you have to accept the whole Bible as factual? What about those experiences in the context of other faiths/beliefs?

Throughout human history people have used myth and story to guide their inner journey and lift their minds to higher things.( Some used shamanic drugs too, but thats another story!)Why is the Jesus story any different to say, the story of Osiris or Dionysus dying and resurrecting from the dead, or any other of the myths in the ancient world?

 

My main point is: you can,t reasonably use personal inner feelings as evidence of factual events. That doesn't negate them, or make them less important to the person. It's just that I believe reason is the most reliable vehicle for guiding us into what is factual in the outside world.

 

Hi Dibby.

Welcome!

 

You have touched on something that I feel too.

Having come out of a Xian upbringing it will always taint my worldview. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. The tenets of Xian morality and lifestyle have often caused me to avoid what would have otherwise been poor choices.

 

I agree - it's a far stretch from an emotional experience or inner feeling to the literalist Xian dogma. I had a hard time making that connection, which is why I am no longer a Xian.

 

The emotional experiences and inner feelings are real, to be sure. Now, I perceive that they do point to something. Not a supernatural realm - rather an indication of how our minds work. How we have evolved and continue to evolve as individuals and as a species.

 

This will be an interesting thread.

 

the ultimate idolatry.

 

Yes! My thought exactly. Why can't they see it?

Even their own prophets warned of this very thing.

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Hi Open minded

I agree. The trouble is , I feel, that the fundamentalist/evangelicals have "annexed" christianity and turned it into the intolerant, superstitious claptrap that we have today. They have also self righteously set the limits of what a "true" christian is to within very narrow parameters. However, I believe this began in the early days of the church, when a political faction decided the beliefs and canon of scripture. I no longer identify as a christian, but can see the beauty in the original story, which I believe is an allegory of spiritual awakening.

It is wonderful to have you here! Welcome and please join in discussing this with the fundamentalists that come here. It is often sad and trying but we have to hope that something someone says will sink in. If only one, then it is worth it.

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