Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Religious Experiences as Epistemological Anchors

Detroit Institute of Arts

When I was in Billings, Montana, I spoke on healing. My colleagues from Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries were there. One of them, Pastor Ross Lieuallen, hosted the event at his church.

After I preached, I prayed for a woman who said she had multiple physical problems. She was healed in many physical, emotional, and spiritual ways. I shared her story at Redeemer, and the effect her healing had on others that night.

Stories like this will be important for the Church in the days ahead. I share why, in my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church (December 2017). 

The lack of such experiences in churches is the number one reason people doubt the truth of Christianity. J. P. Moreland writes:

"If you had to guess, what would you identify as the most prominent source of doubt in America today? Is it certain discoveries of science, incredulity about some stories in the Bible, the intolerance of Jesus’ claims to be the only way? These are not even close. In his study of doubt and defection from Christianity, sociologist Christian Smith claims that far and away the chief source of doubt comes from God’s apparent inactivity, indifference, or impotence in the face of tragedy and suffering in their life and in other’s lives, and the apparent lack of God’s interventions and help in the toil and fatigue of daily troubles." (J. P. Moreland, in Loving God with Your Mind: Essays in Honor of J. P. Moreland, p. 225)

The apparent lack of God's interventions and help... How sad, when many of us are witnessing the kind of things I saw in Montana.

Smith, the University of Notre Dame scholar, "claims that a major source of faith development and strengthening are spiritual experiences: “Very many modern people have encountered and do encounter what are to them very real spiritual experiences, frequently vivid and powerful ones. And these often serve as epistemological anchors sustaining their religious faith in even the most pluralistic and secular of situations.” (Ib.  Emphasis mine.) 

We have them at Redeemer. I expect more this coming Sunday. They are powerful convincers and faith-builders.


I am now writing...

How God Changes the Human Heart

Technology and Spiritual Formation