Personal Experience – a reasonable basis for faith?

Photo courtesy Mathieu Jarry – https://www.flickr.com/photos/impactmatt/502363271

Does ‘religious experience’ derive from God?

Often Christians will say they are such because they have personally encountered Christ, and this is why they are Christians. Muslims will often dismiss this as subjective experience, and claim that these Christians are not being rational (unlike Muslims, who base their faith on supposedly superior ‘evidence’, like the miraculous nature of the Qur’an).

In the modern age we have all heard the argument that religious experience can be explained away as sheer emotionalism, the rush of chemicals/hormones/something-sciencey around the body.

I am no scientist, and am not qualified to deal with this on a scientific level. But I would simply say that I have experienced all different kinds of sensations and emotions in my life, and they all differ from one another – but yet they are similar. All of them feel as if they derive from within, self-contained. My experience as a Christian is unlike any other – it feels like being plugged into a spiritual socket entirely other than me, but yet immediate to me. It is unique. Were my religious experience simply physiological/biological/chemical, I would expect it to resemble (in broad genre, not in details) my other experiences – but it does not.

Not only does it feel completely different, but it has a different effect. As a Christian I have many failings, and though I strive hard to do good, I constantly fall. I increasingly realise as time goes on that ‘that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.’ (Romans 7:18, NIV). Yet when I turn to God, I feel a surge of strength, of love, of transformation, of hope, of faith, of everything good that I can never stir up within myself – and I know because I try. This strength comes not by striving, but by faith. This external-yet-immanent, genuinely transformative (in the inside not only the outside) sounds a lot like the power of God to me.

Combined together, I am faced with both an experience and a transformation unlike anything else I have known in this world – I therefore reject the notion that this is merely some internal emotion or inner resolve – to me the most rational conclusion is that it is the very power and love of the Holy Spirit.

But what about religious experiences claimed by individuals of other religions?

Muslims often point out that other religious groups make similar claims – for example, Hindus too claim to experience the divine, and this could be used as evidence for the truth of Hinduism.

Is this Muslim (yea also secular) critique valid? Do the competing claims cancel each other out? Not necessarily.

First of all, we must distinguish between for whom a personal encounter provides evidence. There are two possibilities: the person claiming the experience, and the enquirer.

The above Muslim critique works better from the perspective of an enquirer. The person asking questions of the Christian may be able to see no distinctions between the claim of a Christian and the claim of a Hindu. They would be justified in rejecting such an argument for why they should become Christian (or Hindu, for that matter).

Unless, of course, they find the transformed character/presence of God within the Christian/Christians to be beyond that of competing individuals of other religions – then they might be prompted to consider why the Christian(s), or Hindu(s), is different from individuals of other religious groups.

But even if to the outside observer there is no tangible distinction, can an appeal to religious experience justify the faith of the one claiming such experience? I would argue yes.

The common argument that religious believers from other religions have similar religious experiences is not only improvable, it may not even be true, if indeed God does bless one group of religious believers alone with genuine religious experiences. To stick to the first point, the individual religious believer (individual A) knows they have had a powerful, sometimes internally transformative, religious experience. Though others may claim the same (e.g. individual B), individual A does not know that individual B (of another religion) has had a religious experience so genuine, so intense, or so internally transformative as they have had.

I would argue the religious believer is justified in not discarding his/her own, powerful and transformative experience (see the first section of this article), which he/she knows he/she has had, based upon the claimed religious experience of another. Not only does individual A not know the honesty of individual B (though usually this would be granted), individual A does not know that the experience of individual B is as powerful, as unlike anything in the world, and as internally transformative. The issue is not therefore personal experience vs. human testimony – it is also the inability of humans to articulate and communicate precisely what they feel. A person who claims to be experiencing a 9 on the pain chart cannot claim to therefore have the same experience as another person experiencing 9 – a common label can be applied to two very different experiences (in this analogy based on pain tolerance) by different people).

Do (non-Sufi) Muslims claim the same experiences as Christians?

I honestly do not know the answer to this question. The Muslims I speak to do not claim a personal relationship with and to know the love of God in the way my Christian friends do. This is not to say my (non-Sufi) Muslims don’t claim this – it’s just I’ve never heard them. If you’re reading this and you do, please share your experiences below. Would you claim the kind of other-wordly-yet-immanent and internally-transformative experience I and other Christians do?

I know Muslims claim to be awed by the uniquely beautiful nature of the Qur’an – but would you count this as religious experience, or as a natural (rather than supernatural) exercise of the human aesthetic faculties?

Why I wrote this article

I do want to (and pray that I) convince you of the transforming nature of a relationship with God in Christ, and the amazing joy of the Holy Spirit living within you. But even if I do not do so, I hope at least you might consider this argument of mine for my faith (though not my only one by any means) to be reasonable, even if you reject it). As I said above, I understand that a claim to religious experience may rationally be rejected (by an outsider) – but the corollary is not that a claim to religious experience can rationally be made (by the one experiencing it).

EDIT (24/12/2016)

Just to add a few things in light of the comments below (thank you for your comments, I’ve actually managed to reply to them all this time 🙂 ):

  1. I believe spirits must be tested (1 John), and they should never be believed if they contradict scripture.
  2. I do not solely believe in religious experience by any means – I believe also in more conventionally ‘rational arguments’, e.g. historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. This article was not meant to focus on those other approaches.
  3. Following on from the last point, religious experience should be weighed against the rational conclusions of the mind. A holistic conclusion should be reached.
  4. At least one of the comments below seems to point out that what I’m arguing in this article may not be helpful from a third person perspective in discerning between religions. I agree. This article was not meant to do that. I am trying to point out why I think an individual is justified to keep his faith based on religious experience, not use religious experience as a way to choose a new \/change one’s religion.
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Categories: Bible, Christianity

81 replies

  1. Richard,

    I’ve read the article, but I didn’t see where you argued successfully that you do have a personal relationship with God, or that such a relationship exists for anyone. It’s quite unreasonable and seems ad hoc at best.

    Is there nothing tangible that can be used to examine one’s personal claim about having a personal relationship with God? Your colleague Nabeel did claim to be able to talk to God, and has seen hallucinations (such as many crosses appearing to him), are these not tangible things that can be tested?

    Best Regards,

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, where is the argument?

      Liked by 1 person

    • He seems to basically be saying “hey, it’s real to ME; don’t question it.”

      Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Ijaz (and others in this thread),

      Thanks for your thoughts – as expressed in the article, I’m not necessarily expecting you to find my experience persuasive evidence. It is not tangible in the way that others are, inc. Nabeel. My argument is that it is convincing to myself based on the otherworldly and transformative nature of my religious experience

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    • “My argument is that it is convincing to myself based on the otherworldly and transformative nature of my religious experience.”

      Theology 101.

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    • In response to Ibn Issam, I would simply say my faith is not solely based on religious experience – it is complemented by the rational.

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  2. Richard Zetter

    You said;
    A person who claims to be experiencing a 9 on the pain chart cannot claim to therefore have the same experience as another person experiencing 9 – a common label can be applied to two very different experiences (in this analogy based on pain tolerance) by different people).

    I say;
    Does difference in “experience” or “feelings” and the measurement of such feelings between two or more religions prove truthfulness in the one having much “experience” or “feelings”?

    If a cocaine or crack smoker’s “experience” is measured with Christian “experience”, the drug addict will have a higher “experience” than the Christian “experience”. Similarly, some idol worshipers like voodoos could measure good “experience” than Christian “experience”. Does that make a crack person and idol worshiper true in their religions than Christianity?

    Muslims who are non sufi also have experience with God but that alone cannot save us unless we use our brain and intellect to reject lies, untruthfulness and follow the truth with logic, rationality and scrutiny. The Quran says, it must be scrutinized. It commanded Muslims to learn and educated themselves very well and to use their brain.

    We the non sufi Muslims get “experience” and closer to God anytime and especially when we pray. That “experience” alone cannot save mankind unless he worships God constantly like Muslims do, then do good and follow God’s commandments.

    Satan can deceive someone into thinking the “experience” he is having is from God but it is not actually from God. Richard, do you have a prove that your “experience” is from God?

    Measurement is not a proof that your “experience” is from God. I bet other religious “experience” can be measured high than your Christian “experience” when both are measured. It is not a proof that either experience is superior than other.

    What determine the true “experience” is using one’s intellect to follow the truth, reject lies, illogicalities and irrationalities and to obey God’s law and commandments in one’s life.

    The “experience” and its measurement is not a wise thing to follow as a proof of salvation.

    Thanks,

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for your thoughts – it is interesting to hear that you would say a Muslim can experience and be close to God.

      To clarify where I’m coming from, I would also say there are intellectual and rational reasons to believe in Christianity, and were the intellectual evidence more in favour of another worldview, that might be strong enough to cause me to discount my religious experience.

      Also I wouldn’t say I’m saved by my experience – I’m saved by grace, because I trust in Jesus who died for me. The belief that I am saved by these things is not only because of my personal experience, but due to my faith in the Christian scripture

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    • There is more than enough intellectual evidence in favour of the Islamic worldview, one just has to take and honest, unbiased look at that evidence with an open heart. One may not have to discount a previous religious experience so much as reinterpret, re-contextualize or understand it in a different way, this is a normal thing to do as we grow in knowledge and understanding,

      For instance, one may experience “a personal encounter with Jesus” and be led from an unbelieving life, into a new life as a believer in God. Later, as more knowledge and evidence is accumulated, one may understand the previous experience as God and/or his Prophet Jesus incrementally calling one to a more pure belief in Islam. Everyone has a different learning curve, and if need be God works in stages to guide whom he wills, depending on the capacity of each person and where they are at in understanding the fullness of his truth.

      I like when Christians say in an exclusive manner that they are, “Saved by Grace” as if they are the only ones who are saved by God’s Grace. Muslims too are saved by the Raheem (Mercy) and Rahma (Grace, Benevolence, compassion) of Allah.

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    • ‘There is more than enough intellectual evidence in favour of the Islamic worldview, one just has to take and honest, unbiased look at that evidence with an open heart.’ IYO, not IMO 😉 Actually I should correct that – perhaps that is true for some people, that they honestly seek and come to Islam. But from the evidence I’ve seen the evidence points in the other direction.

      I find your point about grace really interesting, and I would like to quote a point that James White makes (as a Protestant) in response to Catholicism – ‘The issue is not the necessity of grace [which Catholics and Muslims accept], but the sufficiency of grace.’ I believe I am saved ONLY by grace, and not at all by anything I have done, whether good or bad – would you as a Muslim say the same?

      Liked by 1 person

    • Richard,
      “But from the evidence I’ve seen the evidence points in the other direction” IYO, not IMO.

      You seem to think that Grace is somehow superior and that Muslims are saved only by their deeds, when as I have explained to you before that is not the case. Muslims are saved by the Raheem (Mercy) and Rahma (Grace, Benevolence, compassion) of Allah. One is not better than the other as they are both gifts from the blessings of Allah. In regard to works:

      The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately, and receive good news because one’s good deeds will NOT make him enter Paradise.” They asked, “Even you, O Allah’s Apostle?” He said, “Even I, unless and until Allah bestows His pardon and Mercy on me.” (Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 8, Book 76, Number 474)

      Prophet Muhammad said, “No one’s acts can lead to paradise.” They asked, “Not even you, Messenger of God?” He said, “Not even me, unless God enfolds me with His favour (Grace) and mercy. So fulfil your commitments and draw near. Let no one wish for death. If you are one of the righteous, it may be that your blessings will increase, and if you are one of the wrong-doers, it may be that you will repent.” (Bukhari)

      In the Qur’an Allah has promised paradise to the true believer. It is not by one’s good deeds that one will enter paradise but by Allah’s Mercy and Grace. It is not an either/or question. Allah has commanded us to do good deeds and we would not be recipient of His mercy unless we obey His commandments. By doing good deeds through obedience to his commands our reward in paradise is increased. So we are saved by Grace (Rahma) but we do not forget our obligations to Allah, and by fulfilling these duties, and obeying the commandments we receive his mercy as well as Grace.

      In contrast, the Christian belief in being saved by Grace alone (Faith based redemption) is not sufficient, but rather it is deficient, because there is no requirement to follow God’s Divine Law (Paul’s Gospel of Freedom from the Law). In freeing themselves from the law, Christians have actually enslaved themselves to the misguidance of man-made doctrines which often lead one into sin and away from the true path of God. This is a major problem for Christianity, and it is why Christianity has fractured into so many different sects and denominations, since no one among them really has the fullness of the truth anymore.

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  3. Just want your opinion on something richard.Do people who claim that the holy spirit explains the bible to them etc actually believe that or do they just lie about that stuff.Because i’ve come across christians who throw scholars under the bus and say that the holy spirit is the only one who can be trusted.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks for your question Hashim – I’m not sure, some could be honest, some could be lying. I’m not familiar with these people. And my own approach to interpreting the Bible is to interpret it using the historical-critical method, rather than relying on spiritual inspiration

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    • Sometimes I feel that faith believing Christians who say they interpret the Bible using the historical-critical method are only saying that in order to gain credibility for their own faith beliefs, which might otherwise be disregarded as being traditionalist.

      If these Christians were truly interpreting using the historical-critical method they would have long ago come to the conclusion that the Bible cannot be trusted as the infallible, inerrant word of God, and that central and core Christian doctrines such as Trinity, original sin, Atonement by cross, Deitiy of Jesus, cannot be maintained.

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    • I would say:

      1) I’m not just trying to use it to gain credibility for my own faith beliefs, though perhaps other Christians do. I do think there is genuine value to the approach.
      2) I saw much benefit from the approach in my 5 years of using it at university – I would say it has (to some extent) become ingrained in me, rather than something I just like to use for apologetics. I have challenged Christians using the method to examine what the Bible actually says.
      3) I may need to query exactly what we mean by the term. If we mean understanding the Bible according to authorial intention, the background of the text, etc. I think it’s absolutely fantastic, and incredibly important for Protestant theology (I am a Protestant) (unless I am mistaken the method is a fruit of Protestantism rather than Catholicism, unless I am mistake). However the excesses of the method (hyper-skepticism) can go too far.

      I disagree – having used the method for 5 years, I would say traditional Christians beliefs withstand scrutiny.

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    • Richard,
      I would say that Traditional Christian beliefs have been utterly destroyed by the scrutiny of NT historical textual criticism. That is why Christianity is dying in Europe. It seems that the Devotionalist Christians who claim to use the method often arrive at their own presuppositions which indicates that they are really misusing the process. However, I agree that even devotional Christians can benefit from the method by coming to a more realistic understanding of what the Bible actually says. Though the concern is that once they gain such an understanding, they may not remain traditionalist Christians for very long, and may ultimately end up leaving the faith altogether. I have met and talked with many Christians from the latter group, and with quite a few who have accepted Islam partly because of their study of Biblical textual criticism.

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  4. In tasawwuf, this is the result of what we call “jadhbi” striving (as opposed to “sulūki”). But a feeling remains just that. The state of spiritual intoxication/ecstacy reached by a dervish probably feels just as you’ve described; but their attention and love are fully on the Islāmic concept of Allāh, and the path they adhere to is that of Muhammad ﷺ. But a feeling remains just that. In either case there is yet no *proof*.

    Something can be so hot that it *feels* cold.

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    • Thank you for your thoughts 🙂 just to say that with my own religious experience, it is focused upon the Christian concept of God as revealed in Christ, and does not lead me away from the path of Christ, but helps me to adhere to it more closely

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  5. Richard,

    Here’s a Muslim talking about his personal experiences:

    “I’d say that I’ve experienced a variety of emotions and feelings throughout my life; listening to music I enjoy, finishing a marathon, celebrating a goal in a famous football stadium, chanting football songs in unison with tens of thousands of others, giving and receiving presents, going out on dates, drinking alcohol, having sex, getting married, ate the tastiest food, walking alone on a beach, being inches away from lions, swimming in the sea, swimming in the ocean, travelling,breaking up fights, being in fights, loving, hating, helping homeless people etc.

    All those experiences aren’t exactly the same but they all have something in common – all of them derive from within me. An experience of the self. Not the other. Not the external. Completely Internal!

    My experience as a Muslim is unlike any other – when I worship Allah it feels like being struck with spiritual lightning – my soul is plugged into an external power source.The external. Whatever it is, it’s not restricted within me. I experience the other. It didn’t come from within me! It’s an experience of the other. I get this 5 times a day when I pray. I get this when I sit/stand or even lay down whilst humbly remembering Allah. I feel the love of Allah.

    This experience is unique.It’s out of this world. It doesn’t resemble the other experiences – the experience of spiritual bliss I feel is completely other.”

    Now you’re saying you had some experiences whilst being a Christian, convert to Islam and live as a Muslim for the rest of your life and tell us about the experiences you feel whilst a Muslim – I’m 100% confident you will experience the same as that Muslim or more (perhaps much more:)).The account of the Muslim that I shared with you using the framework you used is a true account.

    Come on home, come to Islam, Richard.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Excellent

      Liked by 1 person

    • And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.[Surah 2:186]

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing the above Yahya 🙂

      So I would say that if someone has the above experiences, they may well be rationally justified in remaining a Muslim as opposed to any other religion.

      My article above isn’t necessarily saying that these experiences, whether Christian or Muslim, are a perfect guide to determining what is true. But I am saying that these experiences could be enough to justify a person belonging to a certain religion, and perhaps making it excusable as to why they do not recognise the truth of another religion, whether it be Islam or Christianity.

      Something I didn’t make clear in my article perhaps is that it doesn’t all depend on religious experience. The individual must weigh up his religious experience, and the rational arguments, take it all into account, and follow the truth as best they see it.

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    • Well clearly Muslims are having religious experiences and dreams too (see my latest post responding to a /christian who is claiming “Jesus” visited him).

      So let’s focus on the doctrine of the Trinity and pure Abrahamic Monotheism (tawheed) – which one is more consistent with what the messengers of God taught? Let’s focus on the Quran and the New Testament – which has more authority?

      Right now, if you’re a Trinitarian you are worshipping a man. A middle eastern man – one who would look like a Muslim male from that region.

      Pray about these things Richard – don’t allow confirmation bias to kick in.

      Also, please do acknowledge my correction of your post here:

      https://bloggingtheology.net/2016/11/20/25030/

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  6. “I do want to (and pray that I) convince you …”

    I thought you were calvinist?

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    • Absolutely – it is the recognition of the sovereignty of God and the necessity of the Holy Spirit to regenerate the heart of sinful men that leads us to rely upon God in evangelism! 🙂

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    • Thank God all this doesn’t help when someone tries to “convince” with circular reasoning.

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    • Maybe not to you (though I pray he will) – but the Holy Spirit has brought many to faith in Christ, myself included 🙂

      Circular reasoning – I disagree with this description of what I’m advocating.

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    • My personal experience must be from God because it’s my personal experience.

      Circular, not convincing. Keep praying.

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  7. I think the experiences that christians have such as “God spoke to me” is from Satan himself.
    For example:

    Surah 6:121
    “….. Indeed, the satans INSPIRE their friends to dispute with you, and if you obey them, you are surely idolaters”

    ==============
    Moreover, sufi muslims’ claims have been heavily criticized by Islamic scholars. In fact, there are books just for refuting these claims.
    In Islam, exprencies “Karamat” must be considered in light of Quran and Sunnah.
    Imam Shafi’y said: ” If you saw a man flying on the air or even walking on water, that doesn’t mean anything till you test his status by Quran and Sunnah”.
    Even after they(i.e experiences) pass the filter of Quran and Sunnah, these experiences would still be something personal.
    In Islam, it’s very dangerous to speak on behalf of God such as God loves me so he made me experience X & Y. It doesn’t work like that in Islam.

    Also, the greatest tribulation for muslims is the test(Fitnah) of Al Masih Al Dajjal (the false messiah/ the antichrist). This hadith explains my point about it.
    Narrated Abu Sa`id:
    One day Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) narrated to us a long narration about Ad-Dajjal and among the things he narrated to us, was: “Ad-Dajjal will come, and he will be forbidden to enter the mountain passes of Medina. He will encamp in one of the salt areas neighboring Medina and there will appear to him a man who will be the best or one of the best of the people. He will say ‘I testify that you are Ad-Dajjal whose story Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) has told us.’ Ad-Dajjal will say (to his audience), ‘Look, if I kill this man and then give him life, will you have any doubt about my claim?’ They will reply, ‘No,’ Then Ad- Dajjal will kill that man and then will make him alive. The man will say, ‘By Allah, now I recognize you more than ever!’ Ad-Dajjal will then try to kill him (again) but he will not be given the power to do so.” Sahih Al Bukhari.
    Imagine if that man had the same style of thinking about “experiences”?, he would fail defiantly.

    Allah knows the best.

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    • The Bible too (e.g. 1 John, ‘test the spirits’) commands us to test personal experience in the light of revealed scripture, and this is a principle I adhere to.

      As to the alleged religious experiences of Christians, or indeed other Muslims, I cannot comment as to their sincerity or whether their experiences are simply subjective experiences – I am not them.

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    • I qouted that hadith to tell you that experiences could be real and genuine, yet they lead the person to the falsehood.
      Also, I find it interseting to point to the standards in 1 John. You know some people according to the gospel will heal others by the name of Jesus, yet Jesus will deny them. Also, the end of Mark gosepl about snakes’ poison and how it could be seen as experience !
      Moreover, experience of Paul which differs from Jesus’ disciples whom Jesu had told they would testfy for Jesus becuse they are the ones who were with him from the beginning.

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    • True, but:

      1) My spiritual experience produces good fruit (virtues that the NT calls ‘fruit of the spirit’), rather than murdering a man.
      2) I don’t rely on spiritual experience alone, but complemented with the rational.

      Indeed, and I believe works of power are not as compelling as evidence of a moral life changed by the Holy Spirit.

      I think that was a later ending to the Gospel of Mark, as do virtually all NT scholars.

      I would say the experiences of Paul and the disciples (in terms of when they encountered him, the precise way, their previous experience) are different, but complimentary and not contradictory – they all point to the grace of God and the lordship of Christ.

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    • I’ve nothing more to add about the core of the subject which is circular with no doubt.
      However, there are some points I want to point to :

      1- You said ” I think that was a later ending to the Gospel of Mark, as do virtually all NT scholars.”
      Doesn’t this contradict what you have said in your article about the purpose of writing in this blog in which you said “Inerrancy – I believe the Bible is inerrant in all its moral and spiritual teaching” ?

      2- I think Paul’s experience doesn’t go along with Jesus’ disciples. Jesus was very clear that the disciples’ testimony is very important because they had been with him from the beginning (John 15:27). However, Paul thought that he is more important to get over the importance of the disciples,and he had to no problem to curse those who preached the gospel which differs than his gospel.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Richard,

    I don’t want to sound like I’m being harsh. Could you please engage with the arguments and blogposts that you have thus far posted without seemingly engaging with the comments? This behaviour comes across as rather smug, for you post and then fail to engage and often will make recourse to previous articles as if they are now granted suppositions.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aspiring Student – I do apologise, and I do not wish to seem smug. I do read and learn from more comments than I always have the time to respond to, so I do appreciate what people write.

      I tried to reply to all comments, but it became too time consuming it simply wasn’t possible.

      I have a rather tiring full time job in London, and I am often exhausted in the evenings/weekends. I do not dedicate as much time to this blog as I would like.

      Also, while I like to reply to comments, I will often feel prompted to write articles because I believe (1) they can be more valuable, as more people read them than all the comments, and therefore it is a more efficient use of time, and (2) I actually often post blogs as it is valuable for me, to develop and formulate and express my thoughts.

      I am sorry I cannot be more committed to the blog, but I hope you will not think it smug of me – just due to tiredness and lack of time.

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  9. “As a Christian I have many failings, and though I strive hard to do good, I constantly fall. I increasingly realise as time goes on that ‘that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.’ (Romans 7:18, NIV). Yet when I turn to God, I feel a surge of strength, of love, of transformation, of hope, of faith, of everything good that I can never stir up within myself – and I know because I try.”

    Letting go of your frustrations and relying on the reassurance of some higher power whether real or not can have that kind of effect.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Indeed! But I argued in my article why I believe someone is rationally justified in trusting in my own religious experience as opposed to the claimed experience of others.

      But also, I may not have made clear in my article, that I don’t solely rely upon religious experience – it is one factor, along with more intellectual arguments that might distinguish my faith from others, such as the experience of Jim Carrey

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    • Well, you did say it’s transformative, unique, intense, etc. But those feelings are also associated with falsehood and misguidedness.

      There is no way the reader can assess the claim that your experience is a rational basis of your faith if you don’t share the rationale behind it emanating from truth rather than falsehood, etc.

      If you don’t have any, then it is a basis of your faith but not a ‘rational’ one.

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    • Hi Verdant Servant,

      I think you make some really important comments, so thank you.

      1) ‘But those feelings are also associated with falsehood and misguidedness.’ Yes, but my experiences are combined with (to some extent) the good virtues of the fruit of the spirit, and other more rational evidence.
      2) ‘There is no way the reader can assess the claim that your experience is a rational basis of your faith if you don’t share the rationale behind it emanating from truth rather than falsehood, etc.

      If you don’t have any, then it is a basis of your faith but not a ‘rational’ one.’ –

      This is a part of my point – I’m not necessarily trying to enable anyone else to assess it. I’m saying it’s possible for something to be rationally/intellectually justifiable to the person having the experience, even though this may be inaccesible to everyone else.

      For this reason, I try to cut others a large swathe when they disagree with me, because while I disagree, I believe they may be convinced in their own mind and making the best decision (e.g. in politics) that they can.

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  10. I’m not entirely sure as to what exactly you were getting at with this article Richard. It seems to me that you are trying to make a case for religious experiences (an odd term considering what the word religion means) as a legitimate means to know whether or not a religion is true.

    Yet you didn’t provide any real answer as to why we should not count the experiences of people from other religions as authentic whether it be a Buddhist experiencing bliss through meditation or a Hindu and Sikh experiencing God through ritual chanting, to even your own experience of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Instead we are left wondering as to what to make it of it all.

    My suggestion to this problem might be to simply not try to argue over it but instead appreciate that there are people who are deeply connected to their beliefs. Don’t judge it one way or the other but instead focus on what kind of objectively verified or ‘provable’.

    Such experiences are in my opinion personal and hold weight to that individual who experienced them and may even be an encouragement to others who are on a similar path but to those outside of it, it only ends up becoming an area where the other cannot engage.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Part of the point of my article is that it’s okay to have ‘an area where the other cannot engage’ – the appeal to religious experience does not have to do that. It can be defensive, i.e. explain why one can stay in their religion and not convert to another, without being offensive, i.e. explaining why the other person in the conversation should convert.

      So basically, I agree a lot with your last paragraph 🙂

      Like

    • Patrice’s entire comment makes a lot of sense to me.

      I recognize and appreciate the impact that personal religious experience can have on a person of ANY faith, including my own. However, it just seems to me that it is, more than any other, most often Christians who make the appeal to personal faith experience when cornered on a lack of evidentiary support for their own illogical mystery faith beliefs. In that sense it’s kind of a cop out.

      Like

    • Hi Ibn Issam,

      I would agree that often it is Christians who make this appeal more than, say, Muslims or Jews.

      As I’ve argued, I think it’s a valid approach, but I wish that more Christians (like myself) take seriously and reflect more deeply upon more traditionally ‘rational’ approaches to religion.

      So I agree with you a fair bit I think.

      Like

  11. Richard,
    Bruce Lee said, “Don’t think…..just feel!”

    I think Muslims would say, “Just think AND feel!”

    What is concerning about your article is that you seem to deny that people of other faiths can have a similar transformative experience, at the same level or greater than yours. What you are really trying to say in a more palatable way is that, there is “no salvation outside of the Church” or that we cannot reach the father “except through the son.” Your polemic here seems to be that, as a Christian you have experienced something that we have not, and while we may think we understand, we cannot really know and truly experience the full effect of that until we too are Christians. This seems to be an entirely subjective and flawed argument. You yourself indicate (with your discussion of person A and B) that we cannot verify anything about your own personal experience, and therefore, without any other evidence, why should we believe that there is anything rational about your experience alone?

    I think that you are incorrect if you believe that “God does bless one group of religious believers alone with genuine religious experiences.” You must ask yourself this, if yours is the only valid and genuine experience, then why are there millions of Muslims, Hindus and others who have not “Personally encountered Christ?” I think it is possible to have a genuine transformative religious experience in any religion, including yours. It is common knowledge that all religions produce miraculous, numinous, transformative experiences, most of which are unverifiable to others. Why does God allow this? It is because he is testing our will. He is looking to see if we believe and love him based on our internal external experiences alone, or if we will follow his guidance as well.

    Do Muslims experience the divine, and can Muslims experience “an other-wordly-yet-immanent and internally-transformative experience.” Yes, of course, this is entirely possible within the context of Islam! Why wouldn’t it be possible, when the entire aim of Islam (as with any other authentic religious tradition) is to experience within the self, a connection, and commune with the Divine Supreme Being? But, unlike Christians, or some others, we do not base our faith in that experience alone, since we recognize that our senses can fool us, and one can be misled by false or misinterpreted experiences. Therefore, while you base your faith in a mysterious unverifiable esoteric spiritual experience alone, we acknowledge the possibility of such transformative experiences while anchoring our faith in a more secure rational knowledge and the scriptural guidance of God’s Qur’an. We find verifiable assurance in the Qur’an that we are rightly guided, and following the straight path of Gods guidance to all of mankind:

    The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). ~ Qur’an 2:185

    Unsurprisingly, as a Christian you seem to take issue with Faith vs. Striving, but in Islam is not really an either-or question. By communing with God directly through the actions of, prayer, Salat, dua’, dhikr, meditation and reading of Qur’an the Muslim can achieve the same electric and transformative internal and external experience as a person of any other faith. It is NOT by striving alone. It is first and foremost through internal FAITH/belief, and secondly through the outward action of striving to come closer to God. Therefore, the feel and effect of this experience is transformative, both inward and outwardly. Like yours, it is personal and unique to the one who experiences it. Though, I would personally argue that the Muslim experience is a more verifiable experience, as it is also grounded in rational thought and evidences. The Qur’an even tells us that we can achieve this experience, and enter into such a state of being:

    “Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: for without doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. ~ Qur’an 13:28

    You said the following: “I know Muslims claim to be awed by the uniquely beautiful nature of the Qur’an – but would you count this as religious experience, or as a natural (rather than supernatural) exercise of the human aesthetic faculties?” In answer to your question, I would simply say, “All that and so much MORE!!”

    I pray that this may help guide you in finding your way to the true path of Islam.

    Liked by 3 people

    • May Allah bless you, man!

      Like

    • Abdullah,
      Wa anta, ya habibi!! Allahu Barak feekum!

      Like

    • I meant to say: I would personally argue that the Muslim experience is a more POWERFUL and verifiable experience, as it is also grounded in rational thought and evidences.

      Like

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts 🙂

      My religious experience does indeed lead me to doubt the religious experience of others. But if those from other religions want to appeal to their own religious experience, I believe the approach in principle is rational/justified. Ultimately, God will reveal our hearts, our justification and our reasoning on the day of judgement.

      Also, apologies if I have not made this clear in my article, but I don’t believe in religious experience alone – I also believe in other forms of evidence – e.g. logical, historical, etc. Those were simply not the point of this article. But I believe these other arguments point to the truth of Christianity, along with my religious experience.

      Like

    • Richard,
      You seem to have changed your stance in mid-stream and now agree with what I stated above in regard to the Islamic approach that personal experience must be weighed against the rational evidences, scripture, history, etc. and that a holistic conclusion should be reached. If your article was not about personal experience but rather about holistic approach then what really is point of your article? – Isn’t this all just basic reasoning and theology 101?

      What is your purpose other than to tell us about your own “personal encounter with Christ” and how we are unable to have an authentic religious experience unless we too are Christians? Based on MY OWN personal experience, and holistic approach I believe the evidences point to the truth of Islam! If I say that you cannot experience what I feel as a Muslim unless you are truly a believing Muslim, then where does that leave us? Back at square 1. So again I don’t see the point of your article.

      The difference between us is that you selfishly and single mindedly limit the power of God to engage with, and work the life of others outside your own religious tradition by doubting the religious experience of others, which can only lead you into pride and arrogance. I on the other hand, allow for the possibility that God may work in the life of a deserving person outside my own tradition. The authenticity of a personal experience is not exclusively judged by its congruence with your own orthodox Christian doctrines, it is subjective, and can only be interpreted by the person who experiences it, and it is up to that person to put it into context.

      God will guide whom he wills.

      Like

    • Hi Ibn Issam,

      Thank you for your thoughts.

      It’s possible I have changed my stance mid-stream, in which case I apologise for confusion – I answer as I see fit at the time, and it’s possible my view changes.

      But I think in this case I have been consistent in my view, but some of my view I only expressed in the comments section – that is because I tried to keep the article to a point, and focused on one particular argument. I simply was not dealing with more traditionally ‘rational’ arguments.

      The point of my article was me outlining an argument about why I think it can be reasonable for a person to follow personal experience, and a response to some objections.

      I did make a rational argument, yes, about why a person of religious faith might be justified in rejecting the religious experiences of others. This is not based on intolerance, but an epistemological argument based on primary experience vs. human testimony/limitation of human language.

      If you used the argument I am making as a Muslim to reject my Christian faith, I would respect that. I would disagree with your assessment of reality, but I would concede that this is a rationally justifiable approach. Perhaps my article was not clear enough, but I do distinguish between truth and good attempts to get at truth.

      The main reason I would doubt the religious experience of another is if it contradicts my own, or my scripture. I would not mind at all if a Muslim did the same to me based on his own experience or scripture. I would say the issue is not about selfishness or single mindedness, but arguments about religious epistemology. You will notice (I hope, unless I have stumbled) that I strive hard to make any comments about other people such as ‘selfish’ ‘single mindedness’. If you sincerely believe that about me, very well. I would ask you kindly to consider further, however, whether you still feel this is an accurate description.

      I should also say that I allow for the possibility of God working in others in other religious traditions, even when he doesn’t bring them to salvation – arguably it is the common grace of God in all mankind that keeps mankind as a whole descending into anarchy. I would want to say that my own religious experience, however, is different, in that it is the kind of relationship and intimacy that suggests a salvific relationship, and that confirms the exclusivist claims of the New Testament.

      ‘The authenticity of a personal experience is not exclusively judged by its congruence with your own orthodox Christian doctrines,’ – it can be if those doctrines are derived from scripture, and I have good rational grounds to believe Christian scripture (which I believe I do).

      ‘God will guide whom he wills.’ – Ameen.

      Like

    • Richard,
      In your above comment you affirm that NT Christianity is an exclusivist religion which denies salvific efficacy to other faiths. My comments in regard to ‘selfish’ ‘single mindedness’ were mentioned in light of this well known fact. I apologize for directing those statements at you, as I am sure you are not a selfish or single minded person. However as someone who considers himself a Christian, your theological beliefs are certainly in concert with the traditionalist exclusivist Christian worldview which backs you into a corner and forces you to deny salvation to people of other faiths. And that is why you attempt to argue that based on your own esoteric, intangible “personal experience” you can somehow mysteriously confirm that God’s salvation does not come to others outside of Christianity. Even though there is ample evidence that multitudes from many different faiths do in fact have same or similar personal experiences while you have no absolute proof that these other faiths do not receive God’s salvation as well. Others can say, like you, that their own personal experience confirms the claims of their own non-Christian scripture where does that leave us? Back at square one.

      The Catholic Church has abandoned the doctrine of, “Extra Ecclesium Nullas Salus” and opened the possibility of salvation up to other faiths especially, Jews and Muslims, who worship the very same God of Abraham. Isn’t it about time that Protestants were a little more honest with themselves and did the same? After all, according to your own book Jesus says that we do not even have to know him or be a Christian in order to gain salvation, only that we must charitable Matt. 25:31-46. In light of that passage, how can you question the validity of someone else’s sincere, heartfelt personal experience and deny them salvation when your own book says that all that one needs to do in order to gain salvation is to be a kind and charitable person. Building upon that, It is not the personal experience that matters so much as the kind of life one leads, and virtually every world religion, including Islam, teaches kindness and charity. Again, the authenticity of a personal experience is not exclusively judged by its congruence with your own orthodox Christian views and doctrines. Your own scripture refutes you.

      Like

  12. If such personal faith and mysterious experience as Richard describes is the ultimate measure of God’s effect and presence in our lives, then what should one do if this experience is not felt or does not occur?

    A good question to ask is, what if any given Christian never “personally encountered Christ” in some way as Richard describes? Does it mean that person has fallen short and their religious effort is invalid? Or does it mean that this person is unable to experience the same transformative experience as Richard? If a Christian does not authentically, “personally encounter Christ” why should he/she remain a Christian, rather than seek guidance and transformation experience elsewhere outside of Christianity? Such thinking will result in undue pressure on some people to “FEEL Christ” within themselves, even when in reality they know that they do not honestly have any such feeling. This can ultimately mislead some people into a witnessing to a false “transformative” experience in order to be accepted as real Christians. This may be one of many reasons why we so often see Christians who regularly claim to have been transformed by Christ, and yet we can see no evidence of such a transformation…nothing is changed. Such pressure can also lead people away from Christianity if/when they realize that the feeling of a “personal encounter with Christ” was always false and was never truly felt in the first place.

    Over the years, I have personally known many people, who have related that as a Christian they had a “personal encounter with Christ” who rather than to the cross, instead called them to Islam! They eventually became Muslim because of this transformative experience. I have also met many others who, while practicing Christians, have in some inarticulate way experienced the One true God, who they believe guided them out of the false innovations of Christianity and into the true Deen of Islam. Make of this what you will, but these are powerful, transformative experiences which have inwardly and outwardly changed the lives of these people for the better, according to their own telling. What are we to make of such claims? How can anyone say that these external-yet-immanent, genuinely transformative (in the inside not only the outside) experiences cannot (even possibly) be by the power and love of the almighty One True God?

    Is the authenticity of a personal experience only judged by its congruence with orthodox Christian doctrine? I sincerely doubt it. Richard’s thinking limits the power of God to engage with anyone, anywhere, anytime……..for is it not true that God guides whom he wills, to where he wills, when he wills? This is the meaning of “Hidayah min Allah.”

    Wa Masha’Allah

    Like

    • If a Christian does not have the kind of religious experience I am talking about:

      1) Perhaps they are not a Christian.
      2) Perhaps they are young in their faith.
      3) Perhaps sin is hindering them from fellowship with God.
      4) Perhaps God hides his presence to cause Christians to seek Him.
      5) Perhaps some other reason I didn’t come up with in 10 seconds.

      I’m not saying a Christian has to constantly (or maybe ever) experience the things I described – I certainly don’t experience it all the time. Christian experience does fluctuate. But absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence – the absence of an experience of God does not mean God has never worked in that person’s life.

      Like

    • Your comment that absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence, proves my point. The absence of your own personal experience of God in Islam, does not mean God has never worked wonders in the lives of countless multitudes of Muslims throughout history.

      Hidayah min Allah ~ God Guides whom he wills!!

      Like

    • But I gave argument in my article why a person’s own personal experience means they are intellectually justified in prima facie doubting alleged religious experiences in other traditions.

      ‘Hidayah min Allah ~ God Guides whom he wills!!’ – Ameen.

      Like

    • Richard,
      Your argument is based on a lot of unproven assumptions.

      Like

  13. Experience, Spirituality, Good Spirit, Bad Spirit, Satan, Good, Bad, Holy Spirit, God.

    All human beings whether Hindu, Muslim, Jews, Christians, Bahai, Atheists, liberalists, idol worshipers, voodoo and I mean all human being have the right to the above and it is NOT CHRISTIANS ALONE who have the right and possess the above. Thinking it is only Christians who have the right to “experience” or “feelings” is illogical and irrational.

    Why?
    Visit an Idol worshiper and you will be amazed to find out that his spirituality and personal experience is higher than some Jews, Muslim and Christians. The question is that is the “experience” from God?

    The Good experience that tells him to help other human beings is from God even though he is an idol worshiper. The bad experience that tells him to sacrifice animals to other gods other than one true God of Abraham is from Satan.

    It is up to that idol worshiper to use his intellect to compare both what the evil sprit and holy spirit is saying and follow the law of God to guide him.

    If the evil spirit tells him to kill and he does that, then he has himself to be blamed and if the holy spirit tells him to convert to Islam and I will also say convert to Christian for argument sake. Then the idol worshiper had a holy spirit while worshiping his idols. So the Holy Spirit is not for Christians alone. Muslims call him good spirit. He is the one that leads mankind to good against the evil spirit that leads mankind to bad and sin.

    We see idol worshipers, Muslims, Christians, Ahmadyans, Shite, voodoo priests, Hindus, Buddhists etc. doing good every day and they help orphans, needy etc.

    Do you mean to tell me the good things the idol worshiper is doing like helping orphans which was told by the Holy Spirit to him is not Holy?

    Is the idol worshiper helping an orphan which some of them do isn’t Holy? Helping an orphan is Holy and from the Holy Spirit regardless from which ever religion you are in. So, the Holy Spirit is not exclusive to Christians.

    That is why the Holy Spirit alone cannot help anyone but it depends on the individual to follow the truth and throw lies, illogicalities and irrationalities and follow Gods law and commandments.

    The Holy Spirit is telling the idol worshiper to help orphans and the idol worshiper used his intellect to know that is right but the idol worshiper rejects the Holy Spirit guiding him to change from his idol worshiping to say Islam or Christianity. The bottom line is the responsibility of a human being to be steadfast and follow the truth instead of the Holy Spirit because the Evil Spirit is also competing with the Holy to make a human think he is on the right path.

    Islam acknowledges people who are not Muslims can do good depending on the Holy Spirit in them and Allah will reward them here on earth.

    There are magicians who sought the help of satan to achieve their aim and they sit all night having experience with the devil and they use it to achieve their aim. You can see it is obviously not from God but from satan because they talk to satan instead of talking to the only one God of Abraham.

    Muslims use their brain, Allah and experience to fight satan.
    1.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67-wIYmWY_o

    Christians uses Jesus’s name and experience to fight satan
    2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShmUy2t3X_M

    The above pastor had a wrong prediction of US elections. Is it Jesus who told him that lie or evil spirit told him that lie? He uses the name of Jesus here anyway.

    Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Addendum

      Consider this.

      In our(human) daily lives, we see people of all walk of life rushing to help the needy i.e. a person in heart attack, a person in need etc. Some of these helpers could be voodoos, Christians, Muslims, Jews, idol worshipers etc.

      Some people could walk and pass by without helping the needy but other have the Holy Spirit telling them to spend their time to help the injured person who needs help.

      Some Muslims and Christians or Jews could not have time to help the injured person but some idol worshipers could stop and help this injured person due to his “experience” and voice from the Holy Spirit to help the needy. It happens. Atheists do help people and they could refuse to help anyone but something is telling them it is good to help the needy and something must be telling them, “do not bother to help anyone because there is not God”. They will listen to the Holy Spirit in them to help others. Do you mean to tell me that the Spirit that inspired the Atheist and the idol worshiper to help others in need is not Holy?

      Come on Christians. You are not the only children of God on this earth. We are all children of God.

      Some Christians, Muslims and Jews do invoke evil sprit to satisfy their whims and caprice. Examples are all over youtube.

      Thanks.

      Like

    • Just to clarify, Allah judges each act by our intentions. If an action was performed purely to please the one true supreme divine being (or in the case of non-Muslims, maybe even in response to a repressed or innate desire to please that same one true divinity?) then that earns a greater reward than an impure act performed with intention to please a false idol, or done for other impure reasons. This is an important distinction in accordance with Islamic belief. Wa Allah alim.

      Like

    • Furthermore, an impure act performed with intention to please a false idol will likely not be accepted by the One True God. But just the fact that one is an idolater does not necessarily preclude that one may experience the divine as a call to do good deeds and ultimately to leave false belief and return to the straight path of pure belief in the oneness of God.

      Like

    • Ibn Issam

      You know, some idol worshipers like the Pagans of Mecca and some idol worshipers today, believe in Allah as the ultimate God but added other gods to him. So, these idol worshipers can help an injured person out of doing good to please Allah but their problem is they added other gods to Allah. Some scholars say, they could get their rewards here on earth and face the ultimate punishment of adding other gods to Allah.

      The spirit of good or Holy Spirit and the bad or evil spirit must be with every human being even an idol worshiper because it is the Holy Spirit that convinces the idol worshiper to leave that practice to convert to Islam. The good spirit or Holy Spirit still keep persuading him to stop his evil practice and the evil spirit convinces him to remain in the practice. The act of experiencing the Holy Spirit telling him to convert to a good religion is “experience” even though he is still an idol worshiper. If keeps refusing, then satan is telling him that the idolatry “experience” he is receiving is from God.

      There are SOME Muslims, Christians and Jews who claim to be what they are but YET you will see them seeking magical powers from satan and jinns. So, as the Holy Spirit is till convincing an idol worship to stop, the evil spirit is trying hard to cause a pious person to falter. So these spirit are with everyone until death.

      Allah warns us to treat satan as enemy.

      You can clarify and correct me where possible. We are all learning.

      Thanks.

      Like

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts – I would just say I wouldn’t just say depend on religious experience, but also see whether there is the fruit of good deeds in your life (Jesus said by your fruit you will know them), and also whether there are other arguments and evidence for God. I believe in a holistic approach. But if someone claims to be a Christian but doesn’t act like it, then they are not (book of James).

      Like

    • If someone claims to be a Christian but doesn’t act like it, he is still a Christian – Paul’s Gospel of Freedom from the Law, and faith based redemption.

      Some have argued that Christians are “Free to obey” the law, but conversely, this also implies that they are “Free to Disobey” as well” Many people say a sinners prayer, are baptized and believe in Atonement by Cross, they may even believe it in their hearts but continue in their sinful ways exhibiting no real change or transformation in their sinful lives. Regardless of what one may think, these people truly believe that they are Christians. Even though some more straight Christians would like to disassociate themselves from them, these people are the FRUIT of Christianity, and they are absolutely 100% Christian.

      Like

    • I would say that is a misreading of Paul – e.g. we read in Romans 8:29-30:

      ‘For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.’

      Other verses could be given, both from Paul and the NT more widely. Those who are justified get sanctified.

      ‘these people are the FRUIT of Christianity, and they are absolutely 100% Christian.’ – They are as Christian as you believe ISIS are Muslim. That is to say, we would both say (presumably) they claim the title, but misrepresent our religions, and we cannot be held accountable for them.

      Like

    • Richard,
      There is a major difference between the two aforementioned groups, and that is in relation to God’s Divine Law. The so-called Islamic group you named has put itself outside the fold of Islam, because it is generally agreed upon by the majority of mainstream orthodox Muslims and Islamic Scholars around the world that they have violated the laws and guidance as laid out in Islam. So although they may call themselves Muslim, there are strong arguments, based on clear standards for what a Muslim is and is not, which can be made as to why they are not truly Muslims and/or why they are not following Islam as it was meant to be practiced and followed.

      Whereas, Christians are not required to follow any law at all (in contrast to Islam) there is no real standard as to what a Christian is or isn’t. Anyone who says and believes that, “Jesus is Lord and Savior” is a Christian, even if they commit every sin in the book daily, they are already saved and are true Christians, even if you might like to think that they misrepresent Christianity. When Paul himself wrote the Gospel of Freedom which implies that the Christian is saved by faith alone, and that they are not required to follow any Divine law, code of conduct, Guidance, or rule – then who are you to say that they are misrepresenting the religion? Although you may personally choose a more righteous path, Paul’s doctrine has led millions into lives of sin and iniquity all the while falsely thinking that they are saved by Grace alone – These are the fruits of Christianity.

      Like

  14. Intellect,
    Yes I agree with you. Just wanted to be clear so as not to inadvertently cause any confusion to others. Thanks 4 your thoughts!

    Like

  15. The evangelical misses the point completely. Jesus’ message, the message of all authentic religious traditions:

    It’s not about you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s not about me to the exclusion of God. But Jesus says he will send the HS to be within us, and the NT describes this as something experiential.

      But also, the message of Christianity is not just testified to us by the HS – it is also, and most clearly, found within the written texts of scripture, which cannot be overridden by any religious experience.

      Like

    • Thank God the evangelical message is self refuting. I personally know an evangelical missionary who argues the opposite: “When the written texts of scripture fail, we can rely on the HS”.

      Like

    • When you say the evangelical message is self refuting, do you mean comments by different evangelicals? Because Muslims disagree too. Depending on exactly what he meant, I would disagree with that evangelical you quote.

      Like

    • My personal experience: Evangelical missionaries take the position in this matter that suits the occasion.
      Bible in doubt – escape door HS
      Hs in doubt – escape door Bible

      Like

  16. Thanks for your comments all – I have actually responded to them all 🙂 I may not be able to respond to them all round 2, we shall see if time permits.

    I have added some comments to the end of my article in light of these comments, to make some clarifications and therefore dispel some potential misconceptions.

    Like

    • Did another second round of responses – sorry guys that I don’t always respond, but I do respect your thoughts and I thank you for sharing them

      Like

  17. richardzetter

    December 24, 2016 • 4:25 pm

    It’s not about me to the exclusion of God. But Jesus says he will send the HS to be within us, and the NT describes this as something experiential.
    But also, the message of Christianity is not just testified to us by the HS – it is also, and most clearly, found within the written texts of scripture, which cannot be overridden by any religious experience.

    I say;
    Nonsense and rubbish. Are you the only one or religion that has scripture? Others have religion and scripture too and your religious experience.

    richardzetter

    January 8, 2017 • 4:53 pm

    Did another second round of responses – sorry guys that I don’t always respond, but I do respect your thoughts and I thank you for sharing them.

    I say;
    Who do you think respect your thoughts? We are not brainstorming only someone’s thought here but the truth. The truth is that every religion has its religious experience and not Christians alone and you were not able to provide us with prove and evidence that your “religious experience” is better than others. Saying your scripture and feelings is the evidence is rubbish and nonsense.

    Thanks.

    Like

    • richardzetter

      This Christian extremism of feeling everything Christians is superior than others is what cause Christians to massacre and killed other religious minorities including themselves( Christians killing Christians) and will not allow Muslims or Jews to practice their religion, until the liberals, secularist and atheists managed to overcome the Christians in the West and force freedom of religion on them(Christians).

      Thanks.

      Like

  18. A little boy and a little girl are playing in a garden. The girl describes how close a relationship she has to her imaginary friend. The boy argues that his own imaginary friendship achieves even more intimacy. The children grow up and as educated adults conduct more intense and complicated arguments to demonstrate that their particular relationship with their imaginary friend is closer than the other’s. Finally, after many many years of discussion, the boy agrees that the girl’s relationship with her imaginary friend SOUNDS to him to be superior to his own. (He says SOUNDS because neither of them had ever produced any physical evidence to support their argument.) The boy then goes through the emotional task of either: 1/Saying goodbye to his own lifelong imaginary friend and entering into a wonderful new friendship with the girl’s imaginary friend, or 2/Learning from the girl on how best to approach his current imaginary friend in order to achieve as ecstatic a relationship as the girl DESCRIBES that she achieves with her imaginary friend.
    As we can plainly see, there is nothing concrete in their presentations on which any rational mind could pivot a decision to change direction. Emotional nonsense always produces same.
    There has to be concrete evidence that a particular relationship produces measurable benefits that are vastly superior to other relationships demonstrating to all but the most arrogant that such a relationship must be the only choice.

    Quran 39:9 “Is one who is devoutly obedient during periods of the night, prostrating and standing [in prayer], fearing the Hereafter and hoping for the mercy of his Lord, [like one who does not]? Say, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only they will remember [who are] people of understanding”

    In verses similar to the above, The Quran constantly alludes to ‘differences’ between those who follow the true path and those who don’t. This indicates that there are tangible differences that could be observed and upon which one could ascertain using reasoning that such a path is most likely the best one to follow as it produces measurable and demonstrable results. Without such observable evidence, crucial life decisions rely solely on emotional inclination.

    Liked by 1 person

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