Tag Archives: truth

98: Examining Exceptional Experiences

In this podcast John and Gregg once again return to “the Eagle” in order to discuss the notion of experience and, particularly, to contrast everyday experiences with exceptional experiences.

Gregg begins by explaining how he wants to relate exceptional experiences, and particularly experiences of God, to something called Speech Act theory (by J. L. Austin). John seeks a definition for experience and Gregg believes that experiences in general are composed of—and require—three components: 1) an external event that I can recognize and evaluate as being “really there,” 2) my own action of recognizing and evaluating such an event, and 3) my responses to whatever I recognized and evaluated.

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85: Listening to Yourself

In this episode John and Gregg again discuss the idea that Christians need “second opinions” about their faith. John sees parallels here with Wayne Jacobson‘s notion of listening to one’s “yuck meter,” where Christians need to attend to their negative reactions / feelings of unease regarding supposedly “Christian” responses (because this may be the Holy Spirit communicating that this is in fact a questionable response).

Gregg agrees with Wayne but also thinks that this mechanism is unlikely to function in those cases where it is needed most. Specifically, Gregg argues a culture exists within evangelical Christianity such that the more a particular situation challenges or even threatens one’s Christian faith, the more one has to act forcefully and without hesitation to preserve God’s truth or Christian vales (and so the less one will likely even experience any “negative reactions” when responding to such challenges / threats).

John wonders what practical advice we can offer to listeners? Gregg notes three points:
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79: Beneficial Disagreement

In this episode John wonders why Gregg was so pleased when, during the last episode, Tommi disagreed with Gregg’s perspective.

Gregg explains that he is excited and positive about several things. First, that listeners such as Tommi are listening attentively to our episodes, grasping what is being said, formulating their own views on the subject, and being willing to engage with us about the differences. Further, Gregg is becoming further aware of his own perspective on Christianity, even that much of what he and John are doing through this podcast (and in particular, challenging what “counts” as information sources about God, about humanity, and about the relationship between the two) Gregg would now consider to be his vocation.

Gregg summarizes how his spiritual journey (of being a Christian for 7 or 8 years, then as an agnostic for 7 years, and finally as a Christian again for the past 15+ years) was very painful yet also very beneficial. John guesses that this a rare trajectory. Gregg explains that even as his current views about Christianity have been formed by this difficult process, so too Gregg believes that the integration of Christian beliefs and human existence that he is presenting will be mostly unfamiliar (and so challenging) to others. And so perhaps the best sign that listeners are really engaging with this material is that they are having some of the same reactions that Gregg had himself, when he was first grappling with these ideas!
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72: Too Much Love and Mumbo Jumbo

In this episode John and Gregg discuss a post, “Are we supposed to balance love and truth?” on Gregory Boyd’s blog.

John is surprised to learn that Gregg has hesitations about the article’s view. Gregg explains that while evangelicals tend to fix truth over love, this article fixes love over truth. Yet in his view both alternatives are problematic: love and truth instead appear to be co-central and in tension with each other, but not fixed in a hierarchy.

For Gregg the lack of biblical references is worrying; for John the references used become far less straightforward when seen in their larger contexts (within the chapters they are situated in). Gregg also finds the terminology to be vague and confusing: what is “the command to love”? In other words, to help readers understand as best as possible why not cite the passages (Matt 19, Mk 10, Lk 10)?

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70: Eminence or Evidence | Expectations Around Experiencing God

In this episode John enquires into the result of Gregg’s 6 month stay in Switzerland, at Swiss L’Abri.  Gregg recaps his time by noting that his writing has been very productive, and especially his most recent topic: “everyday” experiences versus exceptional experiences (particularly, ‘experiencing’ God). Gregg is concerned not only to lay out the content of such experiences–his own included–but also to offer sufficient theoretical, theological, philosophical background for the discussion to appear credible.

In brief, Gregg’s view on the matter is that we should expect such exceptional experiences—experiences of God acting currently, in people’s lives—to be personal but not necessarily individual. In other words, we should expect God to “show up” and act in people’s lives but not necessarily our own lives, which raises both the importance of testimony and of understanding who God is and what God’s priorities are (so as properly to set one’s expectations, relative to God’s action, within Christianity).

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