types of religious experinces


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What does `Religious Experience' mean? Types of Experience
Two definitions; direct and indirect Swinburne's Public Experiences
Direct Experiences Ordinary experiences; a person interprets a natural
Refer to cases where a person event as having religious significance (e.g. natural beauty)
encounters God in a direct way. E.g. Extraordinary experiences; experiences appear to violate
Paul on the road to Damascus. a normal understand of the workings of nature (e.g.
Otto; central element of direct was water into wine)
an `apprehension of the wholly
Swinburne's Private Experiences
other', called the `numinous'. This
means the world hat is beyond the Describable in ordinary language; experiences such as
physical observable universe in which dreams (Joseph in the Bible)
we live. They are experiences of the
Non-describable experiences; direct experiences where
wholly other; completely outside our
God is revealed to the person. They go beyond human
possible knowledge and experience.
powers of description.
The ways religious experiences are
Non-specific experiences; include things like looking at
described are often with words such
the world from a religious perspective.
as awe, wonder and beauty, but the
actual nature of the experience was Vision Experiences
ineffable. James agrees.
Direct experiences involve Where God or the divine is `seen' or `observed'.
experience of God/numinous/divine Information may be revealed. They can happen when
and are ineffable. One reason for awake or dreaming.
this s that experiences are always of Intellectual vision (what is seen is an experience, rather
an object, bur of a sensation, feeling than being just observed); Teresa of Avila talked of seeing
or awareness directly in the mind of Christ at her side, but was just conscious of him being
the person. Direct experiences aren't there, as she couldn't see him with her eyes or body. She
just about seeing God, but being could not discern the form of the vision, but was aware
aware of him in an intimate and he was there.
personal way. Ordinary experiences Imaginative vision; visions that occur in dreams, e.g.
do not involve God, though they may Joseph having the dream about it being okay to marry
be ineffable Mary. A message from God is received through a dream.
Corporeal vision; where knowledge is communicated
Indirect Experiences (e.g. form Mary to Bernadette at Lourdes). Bernadette
sees Mary as a form or image like a physical person.
Refers to experiences where the
mind of an individual focuses on god.
Voice Experiences
E.g. being inspired by the beauty of
nature and leads them to thoughts Religious experiences of God can often be associated
and feelings and an appreciation of with hearing. But more than an audible voice, it is a
God as the Creator. communication of knowledge. God declares Jesus is his
Acts of prayer and worship are also son at his baptism.
indirect experiences, as God is not Disembodied voice, communicates revelation, and it is
directly revealed to the person or authoritative, and passes on God's authority.
knowledge revealed. Instead the But how do you know it's God's voice? Manic
person learns something about God schizophrenics have killed people and said God told them
through what they observe. to do so.
Some people suggest they are not Teresa's Criteria; does it fit with Christian teachings?
different to ordinary experiences, but Does it leave the person feeling at peace with god and
just have significance to the the world?


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