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Author Topic:   Christian conversion experience: descriptions/analysis/links: input invited
Gilgamesh
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 199 (213699)
06-02-2005 11:15 PM


Hello all,

Been a while since I have posted!

I am assisting with the research and compilation of a book about one of Australia's most prominant and influential fundamentalist Christian churches. One topic that will be discussed in detail, is the conversion process. I have studied these processes and submitted myself to them over the last 10 or so years.

I have not been able to find a great deal of analysis of the Christian conversion process on the web, except for one or two articles such as:

http://www.ctyme.com/bwash/bwash.htm

I am looking to find more. Please provide me with any links that you might have.

I have personally developed a detailed rationalisation of the conversion process (and am completely immune to it) and have summarised my thoughts in posts on this forum, quoted some time ago.

I would appreciate input from ex-believers as to:

- The type conversion experience they were exposed to
- The effect it had upon them at the time
- How they now rationalise it, post-belief

I also welcome the analysis of those who have never believed.

And, I also welcome Christians to give their account of their own conversion experiences. Please refrain from proselytizing in this thread.

For starters, I am familiar with (and have submitted to) the following types of Christian conversion experiences:

- Full immersion baptism
- Reciting of doctrine in front of congregation, with requisite declaration of faith
- "Touch" conversion (where recipient is required to fall backwards)

the above with or without accompanying glossolalia (speaking in tonges).

I will provide my own analysis of these conversion processes later in this thread.

Please provide me with your input! Thanks!

( I don't really know which forum this should be directed to: probably faith and belief)

This message has been edited by Gilgamesh, 06-02-2005 11:43 PM


Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 2:24 AM Gilgamesh has responded
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 Message 9 by Faith, posted 06-06-2005 3:55 AM Gilgamesh has responded
 Message 48 by Phat, posted 06-08-2005 3:13 AM Gilgamesh has responded
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Gilgamesh
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 199 (214560)
06-05-2005 7:48 PM


Admin?
Any reason why this hasn't been released from Proposed new Topics. Is that the reason it has gone no-where or is it just a poor topic?!
  
AdminAsgara
Administrator (Idle past 279 days)
Posts: 2073
From: The Universe
Joined: 10-11-2003


Message 3 of 199 (214561)
06-05-2005 7:49 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
arachnophilia
Member
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 4 of 199 (214597)
06-06-2005 2:24 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gilgamesh
06-02-2005 11:15 PM


fear
i guess i'll get this topic off to an interesting start. i'm not really willing to share the particulars and details of my conversion. it's nothing BAD, really, i'm just intensely private about that sort of thing. but i guess i'll talk a little about some related matters later.

however, i would like to speak now about something, as a christian. and that something is the introductory step in the christian guilt-cycle: fear.

fear and doubt are probably the most common factors that play into a conversion. fear of eternal punishment, from doubting their previous convictions (athiest of whathaveyou). i think that this probably plays some role in every christian's conversion.

even my own, which had nothing to do with heaven, hell, or even a story about jesus for that matter. to some, it kicks a little wedge of "just in case" belief in, which then slowly builds into a full-fledged religion. i've personally witnessed a lot of cult-like tendencies in the fundamentalist christian churches.

yet i remain a christian, and a believer, despite that. i've always separated religion from faith. something, of course, that my church did not like. but after my fallout with the churches, it allowed me to keep my faith. i think that despite the nastiness of organized religion, or cultish fundamentalism, that jesus was a really cool guy. i think jesus would have had a lot to say about today's churches. he sure had a lot to say back then, and it mostly hasn;t changed except in name.

- "Touch" conversion (where recipient is required to fall backwards)

that stuff has always scared me. not in fear of spiritual power, but an "i can't believe the power of suggestability" kind of way. i've been to several churches that regularly did this. and i mean, regularly. almost every meeting.

this is sort of another phase of the cycle, the guilt and revival part. it follows denial. when we fail to be completely inhuman and against our nature, we feel bad about it, and need to confess, atone, and get touched by the holy spirit, or something.

my youth group did this almost every week. teenagers... lots of sin. i guess we all felt guilty about having hormones, or something. so after the p+w, the teaching, the prayer, etc, we'd have a seesion of laying the hands and rolling on the floor. now, maybe it's because i've always been a skeptic, or maybe it's because church is the place i feel the most separation from god, but i very rarely let them ever try this on me.

i remember once. the local rising-star holy boy put his hands on me and prayed, speaking in tongues, the whole nine yards. the leader of the youth group, i think, was behind me. he was the catcher. the guy prayed and prayed, but i just didn't fall over. now, i don't know about you, but when i close my eyes and try to stand still for 15 minutes, i start to lose my frame of reference and get dizzy.

and the pressure he was putting on me was greater and greater. now, i don't mean SOCIAL pressure. i mean he was starting to push me over. eventually, i lost my balance, and fell. i laid there for a few seconds staring at the ceiling, wonder what the hell this whole bit was about, and then got up.

i thought about asking why he'd pushed me over, but i thought i'd probably just come off as insulting, or damage someone else's faith. or something.

but as it was, i became increasingly sickened by my church. i had started going there because a friend brought me once, and i liked the atmosphere. i met a girl there too, who became a very good friend. she had an attitude they just didn't like. and i don't blame her. she wasn't a christian; her step-mother forced her to go as a condition for living at home. she was the time that routinely searched her step-daughters belongings, and held a bonfire of anything remotely unchristian. which of course, involved all kinds of music and classic literature.

towards the end, the church group was coming down on this girl for something or other. spreading rumors, i think it was. she was innocent, of course. not only had she not told ME the rumor, as one of her closest friends, but the rumor was also true. they were just coming down on her because it was easy to pick on the one who didn't belong.

in disgust, i left. they were not demonstrating even a desire to have a christian attitude, let alone doing things that christ would approve above. i left sort of out of concern for my own well-being. i knew if i went back, i would only have made a scene, and yelled at them. and i didn't really want to be that sort of person. looking back, i really should have.

the youth group collapsed on itself shortly after i left. attribute it heavily to the repression of the guilt-cycle there.


אָרַח

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-02-2005 11:15 PM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 2:55 AM arachnophilia has responded
 Message 10 by Faith, posted 06-06-2005 4:16 AM arachnophilia has responded
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Gilgamesh
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 199 (214599)
06-06-2005 2:55 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
06-06-2005 2:24 AM


Re: fear
Hello arachnophilia,

I appreciate your response.

i'm not really willing to share the particulars and details of my conversion.

Bummer. I respect your choice.

fear and doubt are probably the most common factors that play into a conversion. fear of eternal punishment, from doubting their previous convictions (athiest of whathaveyou). i think that this probably plays some role in every christian's conversion.

I believe fear of damnation may be just one of the factors that drives someone towards a religion, but I personally don't think a fear of damnation is a critical issue at the time of conversion/enlightenment. At the time of conversion fear is a factor in that most conversion experiences are conducted in front of the congregation and sometimes in a vulnerable state (semi-dressed and immensed in water for baptisms).

Thanks for your own appraisal of the "shoving" over technique. It accords perfectly with my own experiences.

Have you come across any good links/studies on this process?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 2:24 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 3:11 AM Gilgamesh has responded
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lfen
Member (Idle past 2654 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 6 of 199 (214601)
06-06-2005 3:00 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gilgamesh
06-02-2005 11:15 PM


I have personally developed a detailed rationalisation of the conversion process (and am completely immune to it) and have summarised my thoughts in posts on this forum, quoted some time ago.

It sounds like you are dealing mostly with Christian seeking to induce a "born again" experience? Or am I reading more into your examples than I should?

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-02-2005 11:15 PM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 8:56 PM lfen has not yet responded

  
arachnophilia
Member
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 7 of 199 (214602)
06-06-2005 3:11 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Gilgamesh
06-06-2005 2:55 AM


Re: fear
I believe fear of damnation may be just one of the factors that drives someone towards a religion, but I personally don't think a fear of damnation is a critical issue at the time of conversion/enlightenment. At the time of conversion fear is a factor in that most conversion experiences are conducted in front of the congregation and sometimes in a vulnerable state (semi-dressed and immensed in water for baptisms).

perhaps we're speaking of different things. i mean the actual intellectual conversion, the idea of being "born again" in some churches. when the person actually accepts the belief. not when they go through a ritualization of that to demonstrate it to others.

i'm speaking of falling in love, you're speaking of marriages. i think. for instance, i'm a christian, but i've never been baptized.

Thanks for your own appraisal of the "shoving" over technique. It accords perfectly with my own experiences.

i think i'm disheartened to hear that. certainly evident of the power of suggestion, considering how it starts softly.

Have you come across any good links/studies on this process?

no, just a good nine inch nails song:

quote:
I speak religion's message clear;
I am Denial, Guilt, and Fear

personal experience in the matter was enough to convince me of the truth of that.


אָרַח

This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 2:55 AM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 9:33 PM arachnophilia has responded

  
lfen
Member (Idle past 2654 days)
Posts: 2189
From: Oregon
Joined: 06-24-2004


Message 8 of 199 (214603)
06-06-2005 3:37 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gilgamesh
06-02-2005 11:15 PM


Two other thoughts.

The first is that understanding uncoversion (loss of faith) experiences might help elucidate conversion experiences.

The second is William James THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE which is available on the net is a good discussion of this.

I am interested in what this thread will reveal.

I was just raised up in the church and don't ever remember converting. I went to Sunday School with a friend and just kept going until high school when reading and studying resulted in my questioning to the point of no longer accepting most (all?) of the Nicene Creed, so I decided I wasn't a Christian and stopped going to church.

lfen


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-02-2005 11:15 PM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 9:44 PM lfen has not yet responded

  
Faith
Member
Posts: 30175
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 9 of 199 (214608)
06-06-2005 3:55 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Gilgamesh
06-02-2005 11:15 PM


It's hard to know where to start to respond to this. There seem to be many different things being mixed together here, some legitimate, some definitely objectionable. Dick Sutphen at your link doesn't seem to have a clue which is legitimate and which isn't, he lumps all kinds of phenomena together. Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening are something completely different from the revivalist trends Sutphen is rightly questioning and possibly even rightly analyzing as involving hypnotic effects in some cases.

In a nutshell, the Great Awakening was a God-originated revival, while the basic problem with the "revivalists" is that they are trying to force something that only God can do. Many of these groups are sincere and genuinely Christian however, though criticizable from some points of view as in error, while others are no doubt frauds, and some televangelists have even been exposed as frauds. Sorting all this out would take some care.

The overall subject here seems to be the charismatic movement. From your description of the "conversion experiences" it appears that the Australian church you are focusing on is a charismatic church. All the signs-and-wonders phenomena, the speaking in tongues, the prophecies, the falling over backwards, are part of that movement, and generally repudiated by the mainstream evangelical bodies. And of course, as with most things, there are many gray areas -- there are those who reject some but not all of the charismatic phenomena for instance.

It is not at all fair to characterize Christianity as such by this movement, or "conversion" or baptism or testimony before the congregation.

To respond to some of your specific points:

For starters, I am familiar with (and have submitted to) the following types of Christian conversion experiences:

- Full immersion baptism
- Reciting of doctrine in front of congregation, with requisite declaration of faith
- "Touch" conversion (where recipient is required to fall backwards)

You are saying that although you don't believe in the teachings of Christianity you went through these rituals? You actually recited doctrine and declared faith although you had no faith? Did you experience the falling backwards?

"CONVERSION"
I'm not grasping your definition of "conversion" or why you associate it so consistently with the word "experience."

Conversion means change of course, change from one thing to another, and as I understand its definition, at least in most (?) if not all (?) Christian contexts, refers to the "change of mind" or "change of heart" to belief in Jesus Christ from previous disbelief. That is, it is an interior thing, not something external. It is usually considered to be synonymous with being "saved" or "born again" but some churches may have a different definition.

It may or may not be a dramatic event. There may or may not be an identifiable experience involved. Sometimes when people are brought up in church there is no particular moment they can point to when they were converted though they can look back and appreciate that at one point they couldn't say they truly believed but at a later point they could say they did -- they simply seemed to grow into it over time.

My pastor gave an amusing illustration of a couple of kinds of conversion experiences in his sermon just this morning, the kind that happens imperceptibly over time as I just described, as opposed to the dramatic kind that occurs, say, to a heroin addict who is sleeping in a dumpster when a Christian tract wafting on the wind lands on his face and he's instantly saved/converted/born again. This at least points up the view that conversion is an inner event, a matter of a change of understanding.

Baptism (whether full immersion or sprinkling), is not synonymous with conversion in Protestant churches I'm familiar with. It is the "seal" of conversion, that is, the public acknowledgment that the change of heart has taken place. Some churches do seem to equate baptism with salvation but I'm not sure which, and I suppose they ignore the idea of an inner change but I don't know. I think this is a direction you should explore though.

The reciting of doctrine and declaration of faith may or may not be part of the public acknowledgment of a conversion to Christ I think, but there again this is not conversion itself in the contexts I'm familiar with, merely its public presentation to the church. Some churches do have a coming-of-age sort of confirmation I think, without an emphasis on the actual inner conversion, but then you would need to show the difference in the definition of "conversion" in the different contexts. But if your interest is confined to this one church body in Australia I'm not sure how relevant it is how other churches define these things.

The experience of being touched and falling backwards is specific to charismatic churches and repudiated by most mainstream or evangelical churches. I'm not aware of its being considered to be a "conversion" experience, though in some individual cases I suppose it may *happen* to be. This phenomenon is seen on Benny Hinn's programs for instance. It is called "being slain in the spirit" and people may experience it many times after being converted in the sense of already being a believer in Christ, as it is considered to be an impartation of power from God. I've seen it happen on video presentations, and have a friend who has described it happening to her, and I believe from from her description something real happened but I'm not exactly sure what. I never experienced it myself.

With both these phenomena I've come to the conclusion that they don't have any real meaning as far as true Christian belief goes, they're more like distractions, something that dazzles but doesn't edify you might say, and at times may even be contradictory with the tenets of traditional Christian doctrine. In any case I'm not aware of their being specifically connected to conversion.

I hope this is helpful.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-02-2005 11:15 PM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 19 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 10:37 PM Faith has responded

    
Faith
Member
Posts: 30175
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 10 of 199 (214609)
06-06-2005 4:16 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
06-06-2005 2:24 AM


charismatic experiences
Interesting story and I went through something somewhat similar. I was in a charismatic church and a "parachurch" charismatic group as well for about two years, accepting all the phenomena that seemed to be taken for granted. Speaking in tongues was a common occurrence. Prophecies would be given by various people. They usually seemed curiously empty, and I don't remember any of them coming true.

One time I made a big effort to experience being "slain in the spirit." Actually I think I said in my post above I hadn't witnessed that but I'd forgotten -- on this occasion I did. Many were falling all around me as the visiting evangelist would touch them on the forehead. I fought losing my balance because I wanted it to knock me off my feet as I'd heard it happens to some, but after a few long moments (which did include being pressed on the forehead in a way that certainly could push a person over who wasn't strongly resisting), I consciously decided to fall, and I lay there as you did wondering what the point was. I still believe that for some something real happened to them but I really don't know what that something was and I no longer consider it of any value in the Christian life.

After a series of programs involving prophetic teachings of a somewhat bizarre nature I had to face the fact that much of it could not be justified by the Bible and I left the church and the organization. Unlike you I did confront others with my conclusions however. They were extremely unfriendly about it. I really became a pariah. But I left and never went back.

I was without a church for the next couple of years because I couldn't find a doctrinally pure one and wasn't willing to put up with less in that frame of mind after being so deceived. Finally I found a good one where the preaching is something to look forward to every week it's so good.

None of this is about fear. I don't think fear entered into much if any of my Christian experience but I'd have to give it some more thought.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 2:24 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 9:02 AM Faith has responded
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Faith
Member
Posts: 30175
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 11 of 199 (214613)
06-06-2005 4:32 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Gilgamesh
06-06-2005 2:55 AM


Re: conversion?
At the time of conversion fear is a factor in that most conversion experiences are conducted in front of the congregation and sometimes in a vulnerable state (semi-dressed and immensed in water for baptisms).

Again, I don't understand why you regard these as conversion experiences. No enlightenment occurs at these times that I've ever heard of, they are simply public demonstrations AFTER conversion, or should be. Arachnophilia says the same -- conversion is a matter of the heart, not an outward thing at all.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-06-2005 2:55 AM Gilgamesh has not yet responded

    
arachnophilia
Member
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 12 of 199 (214633)
06-06-2005 9:02 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by Faith
06-06-2005 4:16 AM


Re: charismatic experiences
One time I made a big effort to experience being "slain in the spirit."

is that what they call it?

I still believe that for some something real happened to them

well, this is where you and i differ, i suppose. for a while, i did think there was something real to it. i even pondered the notion that there was something and not OF GOD real to it, if you follow that line of thought. something in my gut just told me that there was something seriously wrong there.

these people certainly believed whatever was happening was real. otherwise rational sane people professed visions. but lately, and i won't really go into details, my own journey of faith and examination has made me understand that some of my own experiences were just in my head, wanting to believe. there was actually a rather large crisis of faith i had a few years back that this may in fact be answer to.

and it may be the answer to what's going on here. as an anecdotal analogy, i've been interested in the topic of ufo's, close encounters, and alien abductions since early childhood. not out of belief in the matter (i whole-heartedly do not) but out of fascination with the whole culture of it, and the psychology. most alien abduction experiences are actually our particular societal interpretation of sleep paralysis disorder. it's where the brain stradles the tiny gap between rem sleep and concious, but is still producing the hormone that keeps us stationary while we dream. so the "victim" experiences paralyzation, usually accompanied with intense irrational fear, and sensing some kind of (predatory or) evil presence in the room. sometimes on their chest, sometimes at the foot of the bed. interestingly enough, when people see figures in these dreams, they are gray, wax-like, and distorted. something in our brain chemistry just produces this image. some people read them as demons, others aliens. i had one such experience myself recently, but knowing what it was, i was able to make it go away and force myself into full conciousness.

but another interesting source of alien abductions, and probably the most applicable to religious experiences, is hypnosis. research has shown that leading questions, and the desire of the patient to believe, leads to producing false memories in the brain. this was also the source of the satanic cult and ritual abuse scare a few years back, as well as most multi-personality disorders (the two were usually linked).

so, i think it's highly probably that under the right conditions, and the right atmosphere or context, a person who truly wants to believe can enter themselves into a kind of self-hypnotic trance, and think they're recieving all kinds of messages and visions from the gods. but it's all just in their heads.

my mother often quotes julian jaynes at me, which basically proposes a theory that human mind only developed the modern corpus collosum in the last few thousand years, and so intra-brain communication was interpretted as visions and the voice of god. personally, i think the guy's a crackpot, and my last psych teacher agreed with me. the human mind just has not evolved physically that much in the last few thousand years, and even if it had, it wouldn't be in that way. i think that the human mind operates now just as it did in 5000 bc, and produces visions the same way.

not to say, of course, that some aren't neccessarily real.

I no longer consider it of any value in the Christian life.

i never saw the purpose in it at all. it didn't help anything. maybe it cemented belief, but that was about it. and it never once worked on me.

but neither do placebos.

After a series of programs involving prophetic teachings of a somewhat bizarre nature I had to face the fact that much of it could not be justified by the Bible and I left the church and the organization.

suprisingly little of modern churches can be. jesus spoke of a direct relationship to our god, and that he would show us that door. what he left us with was a community of equals. that's VERY threatening to a church that thrives on heirarchy and power structures. that's the reason they had him killed.

Unlike you I did confront others with my conclusions however. They were extremely unfriendly about it. I really became a pariah. But I left and never went back.

i confronted my church on a number of things during my stay there, but always in a friendly manner. i left because otherwise i would have interrupted their service, yelled at them at the top of my lungs, turned over a few tables, and left.

wwjd, right? ah well.

I was without a church for the next couple of years because I couldn't find a doctrinally pure one and wasn't willing to put up with less in that frame of mind after being so deceived. Finally I found a good one where the preaching is something to look forward to every week it's so good.

i've been without a permanent church since then, actually. i've visited a few, but i'm becoming more and more disheartened with the whole thing. i don't need them to try to foster my faith, i have it already. it just comes off as brainwashing to me now. do this, don't do that. jesus was not about DOCTRINE, he was about INTENT.

and i could seldom find a group of believers that were about intent. the kind who were down-to-earth, and genuinely nice people who didn't annoy me with their fakeness. and when i did, other things prevented me from regular attendance. in the end, i think it was a good thing. i've gone places i never would have in church, and asked some questions and gotten a few answers that never would have been allowed.

None of this is about fear. I don't think fear entered into much if any of my Christian experience but I'd have to give it some more thought.

please do. i know i would be lying if i said it didn't play a role in mine. i think it really plays a role in everyone's, to an extent. i think it's the hook that pulls people in once they've taken the bait. even me, and my bait was never about heaven or hell, or the afterlife.


אָרַח

This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by Faith, posted 06-06-2005 4:16 AM Faith has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Faith, posted 06-06-2005 12:41 PM arachnophilia has responded
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Faith
Member
Posts: 30175
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 13 of 199 (214664)
06-06-2005 12:41 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by arachnophilia
06-06-2005 9:02 AM


Re: charismatic experiences
One time I made a big effort to experience being "slain in the spirit."

is that what they call it?

I still believe that for some something real happened to them

well, this is where you and i differ, i suppose. for a while, i did think there was something real to it. i even pondered the notion that there was something and not OF GOD real to it, if you follow that line of thought. something in my gut just told me that there was something seriously wrong there.

By "something real" I meant something they didn't themselves make happen, but happened to them. Yes, something not of God is a real possibility I think.

these people certainly believed whatever was happening was real. otherwise rational sane people professed visions. but lately, and i won't really go into details, my own journey of faith and examination has made me understand that some of my own experiences were just in my head, wanting to believe. there was actually a rather large crisis of faith i had a few years back that this may in fact be answer to.

I've had experiences I once thought were of God and now don't but nothing I'd yet say were "just in my head." For one thing I got "the gift of tongues" and there's nothing about that I can fake. When I was in that charismatic church I just started praying out loud once and this gibberish came out, a gibberish with a pattern to it, a series of sounds that would repeat, varying a bit now and then but coming back to the same sound patterns over and over. Some claim their sounds are a real language but I don't think mine were and I have real doubts any of them are. I know some think people fake it, but no, it just happens -- you can keep it from happening but if you allow it there's a definite pattern to it that goes on without your conscious partipation -- you just listen to yourself doing it and it has repeating patterns in it. A production of the brain? I don't know. It NEVER felt like something from God, EVER. It was never associated with a worshipful attitude to God, or anything at all I'd consider genuinely Christian. Others say theirs is a part of worship for them and they believe they are "praying in the spirit." I can't speak for them of course. I've just wanted mine to go away but it's still there if I focus on it, only quite a bit less "intelligible" than it used to be if that makes any sense.

Yes, I'm familiar with Julian Jaynes and certainly the idea of a change in the brain in such a short time doesn't make any sense. Also I have to say I'm not convinced of the hypnagogic-state paralysis explanation for elaborate visions and things like "alien-abduction" experiences. That seems as far-fetched an explanation to me as demonic activity seems to others. A kind of trance state IS cultivated in some NON-Christian religious practices such as meditative practices and shamanistic practices, which have some similarities to these abduction experiences, and something similar may be going on in charismatic "revivalistic" Christian contexts too, but I don't see how anybody can be sure that what they bring about is not real (that is, demonic activity) but merely something they induce in their own brains. I'd have a hard time myself trusting the conclusions of any research done by people who don't believe in demons. While they treat the "religious" interpretation as simply imaginary and produced by beliefs, I see no reason to consider their own interpretations any less imaginary or less produced by their own preconceptions or "beliefs" about what can and can't happen.

I personally think that if research is to be done on these things it shouldn't be done by unbelievers who bring their own prejudices to the job. {EDIT: There are some good books on the subject by Christian pastors, but I'd have to do some looking to remember which. One that comes to mind is John MacArthur's Charismatic Chaos.

I saw a TV program some years ago that showed Catholic girls who were having visions of "Mary" (possibly Medjugorje) and I thought it was fascinating that they were walking along -- backwards I think -- with this crowd following them as they experienced their vision -- and they were looking up with their eyes rolled back into their heads, which reminded me of what some eastern religions call the "third eye" which "sees" from the forehead. Nobody could see their vision but themselves. They may have been in a trance in some sense or other but they were completely conscious and walking. I wish I could remember exactly what that was I saw. It was ten to fifteen years ago on some religion channel.

I must say I appreciate hearing about your experiences as they make a lot of what you have been doing with the Bible more understandable, even though I believe your approach to the Bible is wrong. Your experiences seem to have had the effect of causing you to reject all churches and all traditional Christian Bible interpretation. In my case I had a strong grounding in the Bible and judged those experiences from it and simply wanted to find a church that preached the Bible accurately --although they revere "the word of God," in practice charismatics rely far more on their experiences than on the Bible. There are many questionable churches these days (perhaps a sign that we are nearing the end of the end times) but there ARE good ones out there too.

Thinking more about fear, I think my charismatic experiences brought about some fear in me as they were confusing in their contradiction with the Bible and caused me to doubt my salvation at times, and I could see that kind of fear leading someone to get even more involved in the need to resolve it, but in my case it eventually drove me away from them.

{EDIT: P.S. I didn't yell at anybody, I merely told them what I'd discovered about how some of the prophecies and other teachings were unbiblical. They weren't interested in discussing any of it though I'd approached them saying that's what I'd like to do before leaving. My understanding of it alone made me their enemy from their point of view -- and since this is how cults behave I have to say it shows a cultish trend in the charismatic movement -- if you question anything you may even be quietly threatened with the idea that you have committed the "Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit," which is the Unforgiveable Sin. Now THAT is food for fear.

This message has been edited by Faith, 06-06-2005 06:59 PM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 9:02 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 29 by arachnophilia, posted 06-07-2005 8:26 AM Faith has responded
 Message 102 by randman, posted 06-25-2005 3:52 AM Faith has responded

    
Gilgamesh
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 199 (214855)
06-06-2005 8:56 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by lfen
06-06-2005 3:00 AM


Hello Ifen,

I am addressing the Christian "Born Again" experience. I will try to define it a little better below.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by lfen, posted 06-06-2005 3:00 AM lfen has not yet responded

  
Gilgamesh
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 199 (214862)
06-06-2005 9:33 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by arachnophilia
06-06-2005 3:11 AM


Re: fear
Hello arachnophilia,

perhaps we're speaking of different things. i mean the actual intellectual conversion, the idea of being "born again" in some churches. when the person actually accepts the belief. not when they go through a ritualization of that to demonstrate it to others.

I've spent over 10 years trying to identify a intellectual path to belief, and have failed to find it. It is my experience that there is no such path and that conversion (whether it be a born again process or a slow evolution of thought) is an emotional process. A degree of intellectualisation occurs after conversion, or what I call "backrationalisation", only to the extent that is necessary for psychological comfort. Compartmentalisation is then used to ensure that the emotional need is not compromised by rational analysis. Many Christian faiths have processes/rules/tenets that assist with this process.

You can witness the concept of compartmentalisation and the conflict between intellect and emotional need when you read through many of the debates on this forum. The obsfucation and evasion demonstrated by some of the educated Creationists when logically cornered is evidence of the internal conflict.

The conversion experience that I talk of transcends intellect. It is an emotional process that often manifests in a truly moving experience for the subject. It is then capitalised on by the church to put the experience in the context of their particular religious interpretation. It is very necessary to follow the conversion up with exposure to thought reinforcement techniques in order to maintain what is a very transitory experience. That's what fellowshipping is all about!

I only consider the conversion as "ritual" in the context of when it is re-run over existing converts or when children born into the church submit to it when they come of age. The conversion experience is a critical tool for many Australian churches and is fundamental in the success some of these churches have demonstrated over the last few decades.

To use one example of an Australian church (not the subject of the book): it was taught with Biblical authority that the Holy Spirit could only be obtained through full immersion baptism, and be evidenced by speaking in tongues. A potential convert would be prepped with the appropriate Biblical verses, manipulated into the requisite mindset, and then submitted to the baptism in front of the entire congregation. This would frequently produce an "experience" for the recipient, often with accompanying glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and other emotive responses. That the 2000 year old Bible predicted this process is emphasised as proof of the validity of that particular faith and the convertee is open to being fed the doctrines of the church. This was (particularly in the 80s) an astoundingly successful conversion process, despite it easily being rationalised. How many people plucked from he streets, particularly the emotionally vulnerable that churches love to prey on, are equipped to rationalise and resist this process? Very few.

One of the objectives of the author of the book is to detail the conversion process and the mechanisms behind it, in order to equip potential convertees with the necessary mindset to make a rational analysis about the process. It may also assist those who have converted to understand the process and de-power it's mysticism.

I have personally always claimed that if I can prep a potential convertee for 30 minutes prior to the conversion experience, they would not convert. I have not been proven wrong: but in all honesty churches don't often give me the chance!


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by arachnophilia, posted 06-06-2005 3:11 AM arachnophilia has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by GDR, posted 06-06-2005 10:45 PM Gilgamesh has responded
 Message 61 by arachnophilia, posted 06-08-2005 7:49 PM Gilgamesh has responded

  
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