Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Religious Experience Key Terms

Different forms of religious experience


Three types of visions:
  1. Intellectual - These are like clear visions they are not seen externally but rather in the mind’s eye much to complex e.g. St Teresa ‘I saw Christ by my side - or to put it better, I was conscious of Him, for neither with the eyes of the body or the soul did I see anything.’
  2. Corporeal - These are visions which have been experienced by a group of people at the same place e.g. the Toronto Blessing where since 1994 healings, incidents of personal transformation and greater awareness of God’s love have been reported. But it is unclear whether these are genuine experiences or just the influence of some kind of mass hypnosis.
  3. Imaginative - Where a clear image is depicted e.g. in Matthew an angel appears several times to St Joseph in his sleep.


 Many different accounts of voices exist in the Bible. For example:
Mark 1:1-19
When Jesus goes to become baptised by John the baptist a voice comes from heaven. God is described a dove who reveals that Jesus is the Son of God. 
Abraham and Isaac
God tells Abraham to kill his son Isaac but when Abraham goes to do it God says to Abraham do not kill Isaac this was just a test of your faith.
Problems with voices
  • Can justify almost anything
  • Distinction between mental illness and God’s voice
  • Can leave people distressed like Abraham - why would an all-loving God do that? 
  • Can be problems with interpretation - why would an omnipotent God do that?
  • Why does an omniscient God need to test faith?

‘Numinous’ experience

Numinous = the feeling of the presence of a greater being which is with you but somehow detached. Rudolph Otto derived this term and observed that individuals were drawn into the experience by a mixture of fear and fascination. There is a fear because they are experiencing something so unknown to them and fascination as to what they are experiencing. This he calls Mysterium Tremendum.


Mystical experience

This is a direct experience of God where oneness is felt with the divine.
Conversion experience - Experiences which result in dramatic changes in a short period of time. Could it be psychological as Edwin Stabuck suggests.

Corporate religious experience

These are used to describe religious experiences that happen to a number of people once at the same location.

No comments:

Post a Comment