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Author Topic:   Christian conversion experience: descriptions/analysis/links: input invited
Faith 
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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:
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Faith 
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From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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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.


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Faith 
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Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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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.


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Faith 
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Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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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


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Faith 
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Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 21 of 199 (214882)
06-06-2005 11:38 PM
Reply to: Message 19 by Gilgamesh
06-06-2005 10:37 PM


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.

These un-documentable and unverifiable anecdotes oft float around various churches. Some have basis in fact; often mythically embellished over time. In this case it refers to one of the most vulnerable convert profiles: the drug addict.

I have to inform you, I guess, that it was a tongue-in-cheek description by my pastor, his own parody of this kind of story, since you seem to have missed the joke.

Thanks for all of your other notes and thoughts. I will address the conversion experience applicable to the church in question, but I am also analysing alternate processes to get a full understanding of the phenomena.

But the examples you have given, as I have said, are NOT of conversions. You haven't yet said one thing to show me that you know what conversion is. You seem to be enthralled by the signs-and-wonders effects promoted in the charismatic churches, which do not represent Christianity as a whole, but they are not conversions.


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Faith 
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Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 24 of 199 (214886)
06-07-2005 12:40 AM
Reply to: Message 19 by Gilgamesh
06-06-2005 10:37 PM


IMO those groups using compelling conversion experiences, theatrics, demonstrations of "spirittual gifts" are some of the most influential and fastest growing. These features give them the ability to rapidly facilitate an emotional conversion, and then pour anti-intellectual doctrine down the throats of the converts.

But what you have described aren't conversions. I agree that the theatrics and other phenomena of the charismatic movement can produce false conversions and in fact they draw people to a false idea of Jesus Christ. Exposing those things would do the church a favor. But being an unbeliever, you don't seem to have the necessary perspective to discriminate between the true and the false that would make your study useful.

I'm generalising, but those churches that do not use such process tend to be more liberal, more rational (ie, not rejecting science) and have less political sway and ambition. An effective and powerful conversion experience can have a very intelligent and sensible fellow swallowing doctrinal nonsense quickly and easily. IMO this phenomena needs to be studied anaylsed and de-powered.

The charismatic movement HAS been studied by many Christians and much of it exposed as false. You should certainly look into that literature. I'll do a search later to see what I turn up.

Perhaps your "de-powering" might separate false conversions from true, although on the other hand you may merely interfere with a new believer's mind in a very cruel way, simply forcing your own indoctrination on someone who has just barely begun to believe in Jesus Christ and isn't grounded in the Bible yet. Back to the first hand, when I was a new believer (completely from reading books, without any contact with a church or with Christians) I would have laughed at you, having spent most of my life to that point already indoctrinated in all the anti-religious views you could possibly dream up -- but I was in my forties, and would have had the luxury of seeing through your beliefs and intentions, which a younger person might not.

Incidentally, I read William James' Varieties of Religious Experience in that same period and thought how sadly deluded he was.

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?

In order to understand one must experience the process personally.

But this is nonsense. These aren't conversion experiences for starters. Conversion is believing, and since you didn't believe even for a moment you don't know what you are talking about. This is a mockery both of belief and of science.

I have undergone many different conversion process, in some cases multiple times. I declared what I was aksed to declare. I did not fall if I did not want to fall. I understand the context of these experiences the pressure and compulsions involved, and the sensations that can be experienced.

If at all points you maintained the investigator's perspective you have NO idea about any of this. At best you may be able to judge that certain communications could put pressure on people, but anybody should be able to judge that much from a description of the process. The idea that you with your investigator's POV intact "experienced" anything that is truly definitive of it is ludicrous.

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

Coversion experience, conversion process, enlightenment process, being born again: the manufactured scenario wherein a convertee is made susceptible to an emotional experience (manifesting in a multitude of ways) that is rationalised as an experience of "God" and which facilitates conversion into a particular faith.

But as I've said, baptism, declaring one's faith to the congregation, or falling over backwards, are NOT conversions, OR conversion "experiences" or anything of the sort. There may be emotional accompaniments to any of it, especially if there HAS been a real conversion prior to the public declaration of it, as knowing that you belong to Christ and have been received into His church is deeply moving.

I'd be open to the thought that the falling over backwards phenomenon is an empty emotional "experience" but even then if a person truly believes in Christ they may be wrong about the meaning of the experience and yet appreciate it in a truly Christian way.

That is, it is an interior thing, not something external.

Most defintely, I agree. It is very subjective. It doesn't really matter what the convertee actually experiences, although they will be strongly encourage to perform, feel, and respond in a certain way, the experience is rationalised by the church as an experience of God. The experience is very personal, very variable, very subjective. And arguably very physchological and very much residing in the chemistry of the brain.

I think you misunderstood me. I was saying what Arachnophilia also said. It's interior in the sense that it is BELIEF. It is a change from unbelief to belief, a change in viewpoint, in understanding of everything. Before you believe in Christ things look different from the way they look afterward, when now all things are interpreted in light of the works of God that had previously not been appreciated. It is a change of MIND, of VIEWPOINT, of UNDERSTANDING, and in that sense it is an INTELLECTUAL change, whatever the accompanying emotions may be.

And again the proddings you are describing are strictly a charismatic thing, and again you might be right to focus on those things as psychological pressure, but in no way are those things about true conversions. The charismatic churches ARE very psychologically manipulative, and that is NOT a good thing, to say the least, but I'm very doubtful that you can judge fairly between the superficial emotional effects of that kind of pressure and a genuine conversion.

It may or may not be a dramatic event. There may or may not be an identifiable experience involved.

Agree. In many cases rhe convertee behaves in the common and anticipated way. Often nothing happens or the convertee has an experince at a later time, maybe when alone. As usual there is no positive outcome that is not explained in terms of God and no negative experience that is not explained in terms of a defficiency of the individual.

You are right to pinpoint the folly of this kind of thinking that puts blame and guilt on the person, for a lack of enough "faith" perhaps? -- that's charismatic manipulative technique, but again I'm not sure you can discriminate between those effects and something genuine that may also be going on. And again I have to point out that what you are calling conversion experiences simply are NOT conversion experiences -- Baptism, falling backwards, testimony to the congregation.

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.

I am least addressing these individuals. They are a depressing category unto themselves. Sometimes they still have an experience when exposed to the standard conversion process, in line with the church's expectations. A conversion process, other than for ritual, is generally not necessary because faith has been fed to them from birth: tragically they have never had any other mindset. These people can still be uncoverted though and it also assists to de-mystify the conversion process they have witnessed others undergoing for the span of their lives.

If you a priori rule out the possibility that faith can be both genuine and justified, your study is simply an exercise in confirming your own prejudices, and as such is false science. If, on the other hand, you were to focus on the psychological effects of some charismatic techniques, and carefully try to understand the difference between false conversions and true, that could be interesting and useful.


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Faith 
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Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 25 of 199 (214888)
06-07-2005 12:58 AM
Reply to: Message 23 by Gilgamesh
06-07-2005 12:00 AM


I have to inform you, I guess, that it was a tongue-in-cheek description by my pastor, his own parody of this kind of story, since you seem to have missed the joke

It's exceedingly hard to tell with you guys.

Perhaps because although he was exaggerating for the sake of humor, it's not that he meant to say such dramatic experiences are necessarily false. I guess it's a bit subtle.

But the examples you have given, as I have said, are NOT of conversions. You haven't yet said one thing to show me that you know what conversion is. You seem to be enthralled by the signs-and-wonders effects promoted in the charismatic churches, which do not represent Christianity as a whole, but they are not conversions.

Not conversions by your understanding/interpretation. Where you have someone who does not profess a belief in God, and would not consider himself a Christian, undergoes a process wherein 30 minutes later they claim to have experienced God and now believe in Jesus; I call that a conversion.

OK! THAT finally makes sense of it!! But until this point you did not provide that crucial piece of information.

So you do mean to say that you've witnessed someone claim that before BAPTISM they didn't believe but after it they did?? Baptising an unbeliever is a very wrong thing to do, but obviously they baptized you so it must happen.

You also DO mean to say that you've seen similar before-and-after change FROM UNBELIEF TO BELIEF from testifying to one's faith before the congregation? Very very odd, since such a declaration of faith would not be asked of someone in most churches who didn't believe.

I can see that an unbeliever who has the falling-over-backwards experience, if it's as real as many claim it is, would be awed by the supernatural power involved, and at least come to believe in the supernatural. Beyond that I'd tread very carefully in trying to understand what really happened.

In general, I do not have an issue with Christianity as a whole. I have issue with Christian fundmentalist cults that have a negative impact on their adherents, deny science and rational thought and seek to have their religious beliefs enforced on others.

Well, you must be very very careful about what you mean. I for instance consider myself to be pretty clearheaded about reality, and Christianity as a whole in its historical traditional expression to be highly rational and in fact the very source of empirical science, but I deny evolution. Many unbelievers simply make a kneejerk equation between a denial of evolution and irrationalism. To be fair, you need to make extremely careful distinctions.

The more dramatic and emotive the conversion process, the more receptive the convertee is to swallowing cultist bunk.

But also the more likely the process is to be false and the person in thrall to a false religion and/or subject to a great disillusionment somewhere down the road.

You with your preconceptions based on your unbelief should tread VERY carefully in this territory. It isn't all as it's likely to appear to you.

This message has been edited by Faith, 06-07-2005 01:00 AM


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Faith 
Suspended Member
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 26 of 199 (214889)
06-07-2005 1:17 AM
Reply to: Message 20 by GDR
06-06-2005 10:45 PM


Re: your conversion experience
Nicely described.

Your experience is actually quite similar to mine in that you read C.S. Lewis and he convinced you. I had to read a ton of stuff starting with Eastern religions and finally working up to C.S. Lewis a year or two later before I was convinced of Christ. On the way there I encountered the supernatural in the form of the occult, which I do not recommend to anyone.

But then you recognize the truth. I recognized it in many Christian sources. I may have needed many sources to convince me out of the nonChristian sources I'd also been reading, but also once I knew Christianity was the truth I was hungry for everything I could get my hands on to read about it.

Then you are convinced and then you find yourself looking at the world differently. Exactly.

Has absolutely nothing to do with being led by an emotional need for comfort, as you say, has to do with recognizing truth.

Even those who may be led through an emotional experience, however, if their conversion is true, have come to a knowledge of truth, not just a comforting illusion. If that were the case as soon as they got through the hard times they'd lose their faith.


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Faith 
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Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 36 of 199 (215149)
06-07-2005 7:58 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by arachnophilia
06-07-2005 8:26 AM


Re: charismatic experiences
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.
=====
i'm not sure if i mentioned in the last post, but i had one such experience recently. i knew what it was, and was able to control it. it certainly explains alien abductions.

Yes, you did, but I have my doubts about the source of these things.

"Science" that studies these things always starts with preconceptions that they end up proving. They deny the supernatural so supernatural explanations are never considered. Some *may* be purely psychological or brain-originated phenomena, some may be something else.

but i really just meant it as analogy about the sort of things our brains can create under certain conditions.

But this is what is in question, whether the brain creates them or something else is possibly involved.

i've decided that whether or not demons are real that i don't believe in them.

I'm sure they appreciate the anonymity.

there was a good one that hbo ran a while back on satan, and the ritual abuse crisis in this country. it was terrifying. not in the aspect of "omg devil's gonna git us!" but more "what are these people letting these pastors and psychologists do to them?"

It usually falls out to be a witch hunt on the part of the accusers. The accusations of misbehaviors in churches seem to be growing -- the accusations are outlandish but great lengths are gone to to prove them, people's lives ruined by overzealous psychologists prompting children to "remember" things that never happened.

which reminded me of what some eastern religions call the "third eye" which "sees" from the forehead.
=====
that's strictly metaphysical.

Meaning what? The eyes rolled back in the head in meditation is illustrated in some books on Hindu practice.

... and as for traditional christian bible interpretation, i was causing problems even back then. i'm not really interested in interpretation, actually. just what it's actually all about.

Well this is not the thread for going into that, but "what it's actually all about" involves interpretation -- What you do is interpretation.

... 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.
=====
i don't mean to get off on a rant here, but that's a trend in a lot of christian churches. christianity in general has this idea of an original sin that damages us all, and that sin revolves around a tree called "knowledge." i've been to any number of churches that find knowledge dangerous, for this and the reason you mentioned.

No, that's orthodox doctrine. Original sin is real. If you don't understand original sin you can't really understand salvation. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has nothing whatever to do with knowledge as such.

I would agree that there is an unfortunate anti-intellectualism in some churches today, but I've never heard it rationalized by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Historically Christianity has been a great promoter of every kind of education.

But I guess this is getting off topic.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 29 by arachnophilia, posted 06-07-2005 8:26 AM arachnophilia has responded

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Faith 
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From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 38 of 199 (215152)
06-07-2005 8:03 PM
Reply to: Message 35 by Chiroptera
06-07-2005 7:11 PM


Re: Julian Jaynes and the bicameral mind
... There are still plenty of people living in isolated areas of the Amazon and New Guinea and the like that have minimal contact with the "civilized world". I would expect that if Jaynes' ideas were correct then we should see noticeable differences in the "consciousness" of some of these people.

There are many missionary reports of encounters with very isolated tribal peoples over the last century and a half and there are sometimes occultic phenomena involved in their religions.

I also read Julian Jaynes' book on the "bicameral mind" and thought it fascinating at the time. His may be especially far out, but the problem with all such studies is that the possibility of a supernatural reality is ruled out a priori.


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Faith 
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Message 39 of 199 (215154)
06-07-2005 8:08 PM
Reply to: Message 37 by Gilgamesh
06-07-2005 8:01 PM


I wonder if you are actually concerned about the impact the book might have upon your own particular interpretation of Christinity. If your faith is legitimate, if you faith is based on a rational, intellectual process and not on merely emotive appeals or conversion processes, then what would you have to be concerned about?

That out of ignorance and false preconceptions you might do damage to true Christians. Yes, that does appear to me to be a possibility. You haven't shown me that you understand or respect what true Christianity is.


This message is a reply to:
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Faith 
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From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 47 of 199 (215237)
06-08-2005 2:22 AM
Reply to: Message 40 by arachnophilia
06-07-2005 8:40 PM


Re: charismatic experiences
..still, i'm sure, the possibility does exist of the occasional REAL alien abduction. but as it remains, most if not all of the ones reported have very down-to-earth explanations.

Oh I don't think they are alien abductions, but I think it's possible they are some kind of demonic deception. In a class with UFO sightings, leprechauns, fairies and the like, an idea which was suggested by a book on UFOs I read many years ago -- not by a Christian.

still, to extend my analogy, there's one alien abduction report that i'm not sure about. it's a famous one, too. betty and barney hill. not only do their stories corroborate one another, but they report being shown a star chart. reportedly, the stars on betty's drawing are able to be matched with a known constellation, from a different perspective. and it reportedly contained two stars which had not even been found at the time. of course, i don't know the veracity of that information, but i keep the option of a real abduction open in that case.

I haven't read much of this kind of report, but this is exactly the kind of thing I'd think of attributing to demonic deception.

It usually falls out to be a witch hunt on the part of the accusers. The accusations of misbehaviors in churches seem to be growing -- the accusations are outlandish but great lengths are gone to to prove them, people's lives ruined by overzealous psychologists prompting children to "remember" things that never happened.
=====
you know, that's sort of a good point. what if the molestation scandal is the same exact thing? that warrants investigation, i think.

I don't doubt those cases myself. There it's individuals coming in many years after the fact, as adults, not the same thing I'm thinking of. The case where they hounded these poor people who ran a child care in California was very much a witch hunt that involved the whole community however, whipped up by a social worker who prompted children to say that bizarre things were done to them.

Meaning what? The eyes rolled back in the head in meditation is illustrated in some books on Hindu practice.
=====
meaning, the third eye. it sees on a different plane, the spiritual. supposedly, anyways. i researched hinduism only breifly, and only in regards to certain things.

Yes, that's the point. They were seeing this apparition, which the people following them couldn't see. I tuned in to see this report on the Mary apparitions out of curiosity. I was surprised to see the girls in that strange posture, with their heads thrown back and their eyes rolled up.

No, that's orthodox doctrine. Original sin is real.
=====
to quote myself in another thread: "i believe in micro-sin-death, but not macro-sin-death."

i do not believe in original sin. it doesn't make sense, and alleges that god is unjust. why should i punished for someone thousands of generations my ancestor?

It's a matter of what the Bible says. God told them they would die if they ate of that fruit and they died. Paul simply emphasizes that when he says in Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned...."

god makes up a set of rule designed to damn us, and then saves us from those rules? so basically, god's saving us from god. kind of silly, isn't it?

Some of us consider it to be beautiful and mysterious. It's not a matter of God's "making up" rules -- God's Law reflects His very nature, his mind, his perfect justice, his holiness, his perfection -- when we violate it we violate him personally in a sense, we reject him, we put him at a distance from us.

i believe that god saved us from ourselves. it is our TENDENCY and nature to sin, but we do not have to pay for the sins of others.

But now in these last few statements you are not even pretending to follow the Bible, not even interpreting, you are simply making up what you want it to mean. You just throw out those parts you don't like. Same with your speculations about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You are simply pondering it from your own feelings rather than what the Bible actually says.

This message has been edited by Faith, 06-08-2005 02:23 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 40 by arachnophilia, posted 06-07-2005 8:40 PM arachnophilia has responded

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Faith 
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From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
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Message 49 of 199 (215248)
06-08-2005 3:58 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by Gilgamesh
06-08-2005 2:05 AM


Re: This post should preceed the previous one!
I can see that an unbeliever who has the falling-over-backwards experience, if it's as real as many claim it is, would be awed by the supernatural power involved, and at least come to believe in the supernatural. Beyond that I'd tread very carefully in trying to understand what really happened.

You close your eyes, get wobbly and someone pushes you over. In many cases you put on a reasonable performance and play along with the spirit of things, might writhe on the floor, laugh or cry etc. Nothing supernatural there.

That's your theory but what's your proof? Some of us who did fake it KNOW we faked it. But if others deny faking it or describe something that would be very hard to fake you are just going to insist your interpretation is the truth about what happened no matter what, right? As you just now did, as if you KNOW it's nothing but "playing along" -- but again, you cannot prove that for all cases.

Exactly the same as a Martin St James "hypnosis" shows. Some 15 odd years ago, I myself did my very best Michael Jackson dance impersonation in front of thousands of people I didn't know. Not because I had succombed to the supernatural, not because I was hypnotised, because it was fun and I was prepared to play along. Martin sent those that did not want to play along back to their seats.

Again you are interpreting but there may be some elements of hypnosis involved in some cases. I just think you need to be very careful not to assume that's the explanation when you find situations you can't explain easily.

Christianity as a whole in its historical traditional expression to be highly rational and in fact the very source of empirical science

Cough. You're joking, right?

Not in the slightest.

This is the religion that put civilised society and early Greek incarnations of science on hold for about 1500 years.

That's the revisionist history that's taught these days for sure.

The religion that early scientists has to tread carefully around in fear of their life.

According to my favorite source on this subject, Under the Influence by Alvin J. Schmidt, empirical science was developed from the Christian faith in a rational God who made a lawful universe. He quotes Alfred North Whitehead (in Science and the Modern World), p.18, saying that "the origin of science required Christianity's 'insistence on the rationality of God.'" [Schmidt,p 219]

He also argues that the opposition to empirical science came out of Aristotelian ideas that the Catholic Church had absorbed, rationalized by the Bible but misrepresenting the Bible, which does not oppose science. He makes a good case for this.

"'From the thirteenth century onward into the eighteenth,' says Lynn White (Dynamo and Virgin Reconsidered,89) 'every major scientist, in effect, explained his motivations in religious terms'" {Schmidt 222. He discusses briefly both the science and the religion of a list of 31 scientists, starting with Robert Grossetest, 12th-13th c. who "first proposed the inductive, experimental method," followed by Roger Bacon, William of Occam, Jean Buridan, Nicholas of Oresme, Copernicus, Da Vinci, Parcelsus, Pare, Vesalius, Brahe, Kepler, Galileo, Harvey, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Leibniz, Priestley, Lavoisier, Volta, Dalton, Ampere, Ohm, Faraday, Simpson, Pasteur, Mendel, Kelvin, Lister, Carver. All considered themselves Christians. Some wrote treatises on Christian topics. Many on the list, such as Blaise Pascal and Michael Faraday, were extremely devout Christians. Grossetest, Bacon and Occam were Franciscan monks. Schmidt describes Faraday as "a member of ...a small fundamentalist Christian group that firmly believed in the Bible and in Jesus Christ as God's only Son. He ...read the Bible daily....'"

The same religion that in it's present fundementalist manifestations seeks to once again censor science because it has replaced creation myths with scientific theory.

Well, at least get our point of view on this because some of us do not see it your way at all. Evolution is not science. It has not been proved and cannot be proved. It eats data, but the data do not support it. It is all an imaginative construction that is rationalized as science and defended by its aficionados with all the ferocity and loyalty of Rottweilers, but not with reason. True science is done by evolutionists but the theory of evolution is merely a big piece of baggage they pack along with their work and rationalize by their work and make their work fit, but it is forever incompatible with most of the actual facts of their work. Yes I know this is argued to a fare-thee-well here, and in my view very poor arguments on the evo side are allowed to trump rather good ones on the creo side, but there is not going to be any way to get anyone to see this, so I'm merely stating this for the record.

but I deny evolution. Many unbelievers simply make a kneejerk equation between a denial of evolution and irrationalism. To be fair, you need to make extremely careful distinctions.

IMO there is no rational basis on which to deny evolution.

Nothing unexpected there. That's what I just said is the prevailing view.

150 years worth of re-inforcement and additional evidence, thousands of scientists working across many inter-related testable fields of science vs the ever shrinking cry of the worshippers of the God of the Gaps: "we haven't seen a wolf turn into a whale, so we're still unconvinced".

That's a rank caricature of the creationist arguments, a deliberate choice of the silliest expression of it to mock. The testable fields have testable observations, but the theory itself remains forever untestable and nonsensical. The reinforcement as you say is certainly real, but it's just the habit of thought shared by all those in the scientific community, it has no true empirical basis. It's an amazing case of group delusion reinforced by habit.

I know many Christians accept evolution and the age of the earth and that Christianity need not rest upon the validity of a literal interpretation of the Bible, but Christian fundamentalism can be pulled apart on these issues. From their the rest follows, and you guys know it. That's why you are kicking and screaming so hard and using every trick in the box. Emotional conversion experiences are just one of them.

I think evolution is crazy. It doesn't faze me at all. It makes me laugh. But it's true that some Christians of weak faith or weak intellectual ability or just noncombative personalities (which doesn't describe me) get broken by this idiotic theory, try to hold on to their belief while embracing it although it contradicts the word of God, or lose their faith altogether, or have their faith reduced to a vague shadowy thing they cling to because they are truly born again Christians nevertheless, though they can't defend it, and I consider that very sad and wonder who is going to be held accountable for it in the end.

This message has been edited by Faith, 06-08-2005 04:08 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 46 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-08-2005 2:05 AM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 54 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-08-2005 5:02 AM Faith has responded

  
Faith 
Suspended Member
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 51 of 199 (215251)
06-08-2005 4:10 AM
Reply to: Message 50 by Gilgamesh
06-08-2005 4:05 AM


Re: Topic!
My world is one void of supernatural monsters: when I am alone in my room, I am alone in my room: there are no bogey men, demons, ghosts or pixies. My world is easy to join: you just have to exorcise superstitions from your head.

Jeepers, what do those of us do who started out with your unidimensional world and then discovered we were wrong?

But I will honor the topic request.

This message has been edited by Faith, 06-08-2005 04:11 AM


This message is a reply to:
 Message 50 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-08-2005 4:05 AM Gilgamesh has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 53 by Gilgamesh, posted 06-08-2005 4:21 AM Faith has responded

  
Faith 
Suspended Member
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 55 of 199 (215264)
06-08-2005 5:20 AM
Reply to: Message 54 by Gilgamesh
06-08-2005 5:02 AM


Re: So off topic!
How quickly you descend to sheer mean nastiness. Why is that? I was in context, explaining my position and you become a rude raving madman because you can't control what my position is I guess. Get a grip man. And go ahead and do your smear piece, because that is all it will be as you have no understanding and no respect for your subject matter.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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