Characteristics of Religious Experience

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Characteristics of Conversions

Dissatisfied with former lifestyle

E.g. John Wesley

Worried by the 'absence of joy' in his existing faith and related to psalmist in Psalm 130 'I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits and in his word I put my hope.'

Crisis beforehand involving physical/emotional upset

E.g. St Augustine of Hippo

'I cast myself down, I know not how... giving full vent to my tears and the floods of my eyes gushed out.'

Change in behaviour

E.g. Paul

Was a persecutor of Chritian Church but Galatians 1:23 'the man who formerly persecuted is is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.'

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Characteristics of Mysticism

Passive - the RE occurs without any action on the part of the recipient.

E.g. St John of the Cross 'I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on the face of my Beloved, all things ceased; I went out from myself.'

Ineffable - the RE cannot be communicated in normal speech.

E.g. Teresa of Avila 'I wish I could give a description of at least the smallest part of what I learned, but, when I try to find a way of doing so, I find it impossible...'

Noetic - the mind gaining knowledge and understanding.

E.g. Julian of Norwich was shown a hazelnut in the palm of her hand and marvelled at the fact that it existed 'because God loves it.'

Transient - the RE only lasts for a limited time.

E.g. W.Somerset. Maugham 'I felt that if it lasted a moment longer, I should die.'

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Characteristics of Visions

Recurring - E.g. Virgin Mary appeared to St Bernadette on 18 occasions. (CORPOREAL - believed the figure of Mary was externally present).

Message - E.g. Mary told St Bernadette 'go, tell the priests to build a chapel at Lourdes.'

Dream - E.g. Jacob's vision of ladder to heaven Gen 28:10-22 he 'saw a stairway resting on the earth with its top reaching to heaven.' (IMAGINARY - seen with mind's eye and strengthened Jacob's faith).

Brings anxiety and fear - E.g. Transfiguration disciples 'did not know what to say, they were so frightened.'

Treated with hostility - E.g. children at Medjugorje were subjected to psychological testing, people thought they were lying and seeking attention.

Brings greater knowledge and understanding - E.g. Julian of Norwich: shown a hazelnut in the palm of her hand and marvelled at the fact that it existed 'bc God loves it.' (INTELLECTUAL - deeper insight into love of God, greater knowledge/understanding of God's love.

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