Numinous experience

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  • Created on: 23-01-13 09:33
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Numinous experience
What is `numinous' religious experience?
Experiences of awe and wonder in the presence of an almighty and
transcendent God
Awareness of human nothingness when faced with a holy and powerful
Isaiah 6:3-5: believed that he was nothing compared to God
Blaise Pascal: believed that he is nothing without God so must give
total submission to Jesus Christ and God
Otto and the numinous experience
Mysterium tremendum
Mysterium because of the mystery of the experience that cannot be
Tremendum because of the awe-inspiring terror = sense of dread in
the presence of an overwhelming being
Fascinans: drawn to the experience with a strange fascination
Ideas about God may be developed when believers reflect on their
experiences but ultimately the encounter with God is inexpressible
We are not able to know God unless he chooses to reveal himself but
the numinous experience is where God reveals himself and his
revelation is felt on an emotional level
Is all religious experience numinous?
To suggest hat all religious experience is numinous is too simplistic
Other understandings of religious experience
agreed with Otto that religious experiences are primarily emotional =
deeper than reason
not numinous but are at their core of feeling of absolute dependence
upon the divine
awareness of absolute dependence upon a source of power that is at
the heart of religion
theology arises afterwards as people reflect on their experiences
viewed religious experiences as been analogous to intimate personal
relationships that he called I-thou relationships : mutual interaction
I-it relationship : with objects/ when we treat people as objects


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