Experience and emotion do not real doctrine make
Experientialism is a mighty juggernaut plowing through contemporary religion. Its attractive helmet hits headlong into foundational truth where God’s revelation trumps perceived notions of His actions through and around the church. These two candidates stand in great opposition to one another for those seeking a guidepost in determining their way, for not all things experienced are all things true. We are warned about false teachers and false teachings (2Peter 2:1) and we are told to test the spirits (1John 4:1) and exercise discernment for false prophets and wolves live and breathe among us. Unfortunately, few actually heed this caution.
Felt-needs and personal preferences are main highways where experience travels at high speeds regardless of what the Word of God might have to say. One can hear the cries of exasperation, “Surely what I feel can’t be wrong! What do you mean it doesn’t matter what I saw?!” Sensory theology trumps real doctrine as “what I feel” has become “what I know”, never mind that it goes against Scripture. We would do well to remember the warnings found in the book of Colossians – “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” And “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen…” (Col.2:8,18) Many professed believers love to talk on and on about their spiritual experiences through dreams and visions but these claims must always pass the scrutiny of Scripture, not merely experience.
Those who have much invested in their experiential theology are usually not open to being challenged. To question their experience is, in their minds, to question their spirituality. If one were to dismantle an experience that they’ve put so much hope and joy into, it is tantamount to calling them an unbeliever. At least that’s mostly how they react.
However, Scripture alone should be our ultimate authority in determining truth and truth should help us organize our practice and become a filter through which we view what has happened. To do otherwise is to lean into the mystic camp and build bonfires around Gnostic ceremonies.
May we flee what is of self and cling to what is truly of Him.
Posted on November 24, 2009, in Apologetics, Doctrine/Theology, Experiential / Application and tagged church, culture, discernment, doctrine, experiential theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.