The Subjectivity of Religious Experience

Fr Jeffrey Steel writes here on the slippery subjectivity of religious experience. He’s criticizing the liberal’s reliance on personal religious opinion, but the same criticism applies to all forms of Protestantism.

What interests me is how the same types or arguments are used by conservative charismatic Protestants as the Liberals they so despise. Try this on for size and guess who is speaking…
“The Lord is always doing a new thing in his church. New wine demands new wineskins. The Spirit wants to break down the old man made traditions. Denominations are simply legalistic tools of bigotry and oppression. The Holy Spirit called Peter to step outside the box and take and eat the things he considered ‘unclean’. We need to take risks with God and have more faith and trust the God within us. We need to listen to the inner voice and follow that leading with courage–even if it threatens to divide the church. etc. etc.”
Of course, there is truth in all these statements, but without a central authority by which to test the truths, discern the spirit and decide which innovations are of the Spirit and which are not, anything goes.
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  • Father, if I might venture a guess: I would say the speaker is associated with a “non-denominational” denomination of some sort. Perhaps a charismatic non-denominational denomination?

  • My point is that the same language is used by charismatic Protestants as is used by the liberals. They use the same ‘we stand for radical Spirit-fueled change’ talk.