3.11.09

Academic about the otherness of Christianity

It has been really worth-while reading 'Tongue Speaking, an experiment in spiritual experience', by Kelsey. The title is a little off-putting, leaving you wondering whether you are going to be blasted with some medical people's conclusions about the sub-conscious and language-acquisition and those parts of our brain that we have lost the function of etc and their high-filuting theories which somehow attribute this phenomenen to anything but God, it is, however, not that sort of book at all. The 'experiment' part of the sub-heading refers really to the testimonies that people have given over the twentieth century and how sometimes the 'coming out' has been a serious experiment in spirituality for the consequences entailed with some pastors being forced to resign once they have preached that this is part of their experience of God.

There is the science too. Kelsey looks at Jung and Freud but finds nothing to conflict with the truth of Glossolalia, that in fact these pychologists were very aware of a realm beyond the rational beyond the rational which is the same as the realm in which Christians dwell, they simply explain it with a different scientific lexicon.

I found it very interesting when I was reading about Catholic and conservative protestant reactions to spiritual phenomenon and tongues, in particular. I do find cessationist beliefs difficult to identify with and this book very helpfully explains the influence of Aristotle and his very rational approach to life and how this has done much to influence Catholicism and conservative expressions of the faith. Some clergy have become aware of this and begun to appreciate that Jesus' world-view of a realm inhabited by both spiritual forces for good and evil is a Christian world view and one we must grapple with and be informed about as we do battle in the 'heavenlies' (Eph 1).

Dewar comments "It is indeed strange that calvin nowhere in his Institutes comes to grips with the question of what constitutes inspiration.'

We can not come to know God purely through 'sense experience and reason'. The Bible itself testifies to the fact that some of our 'knowing' comes in part from 'visionary experiences, dreams, or tongues...'

How far is our world today 'stripped down, absolved of all super-natural alliances, scrubbed clean of special events divinely arranged, deprived of the deus ex machina, the undeniable proof, the outright arrogance of miracle? Yet it is God's creation; he made it.
(Samuel H Miller The Dilemma of Modern Belief, New York, Harper and Row 1963, p.16)

As MacAlpine would have it, we need to be discerning, yes, but also take care that our world-view isn't becoming more and more aligned with today's at the cost of really understanding our Lord's.

We perceive with the spirit that which is Spiritual.

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