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Encountering Mystery

Religious Experience in a Secular Age
  • By Dale C. Allison
Product Description

Despite widespread skepticism on the matter, a significant number of people today have stories of religious experience-- moments of inexplicable terror or rapturous joy, visions, near-death experiences of the afterlife, encounters with angels, heavenly voices, and premonitions. How should rationally minded people of faith respond?

What would your reaction be if someone told you that, one night while sitting alone, she saw through the window a brilliant light descend from the sky until it was so large that it filled the room--and that it radiated a feeling of "pure love"? And what would you say if a friend confided in you that he fell from a scaffold the other day, and that he felt a pair of arms catch him so that he was miraculously uninjured--even though he was alone?

By default in the secular age we are skeptical about anything mysterious or supernatural. More likely than not, most people would respond to the stories above with embarrassment and concern about the person's grasp of reality, or they would attempt to explain them away through rational or scientific means. But the truth is that religious experiences like these are not as uncommon as they seem--although talking about such experiences is. This is even the case in a faith tradition like Christianity despite the Bible's numerous accounts of miraculous happenings like the parting of a sea and the instantaneous healing of lepers.

In Encountering Mystery, noted biblical scholar and theologian Dale Allison makes the argument that stories of religious experience are meaningful and not to be marginalized in the church. Pastors especially, but all Christians, have a moral prerogative to lovingly engage with such stories regardless of whether they themselves have had similar experiences. Through a close look at phenomena such as moments of inexplicable terror or rapturous joy, visions, near-death experiences of the afterlife, encounters with angels, heavenly voices, and premonitions, Allison shows how the ordinary practice of faith is not necessarily at odds with individual religious experience--and is, in many ways, theologically compatible with it. Above all, he enjoins Christians to be honest about the persistence of religious experience in a secular age and to make space in the church for people who encounter mystery in their lives.

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  • Additional Details
  • Additional Details
    Product Specs
    • SKU: 9780802881885
    • Manufacturer: William B Eerdmans Pub Co
    • ISBN 13: 9780802881885
    • Publication Date: 07/26/2022
    • Format: Paperback
    • Author: Dale C. Allison

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