Understanding Religious Experiences: What the Bible Says about Spirituality

Front Cover
Greenwood Publishing Group, 2008 - Religion - 183 pages

Today most people feel less interested in religion and more interested in spirituality. If you ask what they mean, they will tell you that organized religion tends to turn them off, but, nonetheless, they feel a hunger in the heart that they cannot seem to fill. They do not mean that they would rather have disorganized religion; they mean that institutional religion does not seem to satisfy their spirits and feel there must be something more, some better way of experiencing whatever that is for which they are hungry. Much new experimentation is going on as a result. Some of it is a search for the meaning to fill the soul and satisfy the spirit; much of it is a search for meaning on the spiritual level itself. Spirituality reaches always toward the question about the meaning of God, the meaning of relationships with others, the meaning of intimacy, and the meaning of soul gratifying insights into truth. Here, Ellens carefully and sensitively explores the full range of our spiritual natures and the variety of spiritual experiences of which we are capable, describing the way our souls and psyches work in our hunger and thirst for meaning. He explains in an enlightening and unconventional way why and how every human desires to reflect upon, learn, and share a heartfelt experience of God and of others.

Readers will find in this book a description of the meaning of the biblical stories about spiritual experiences in addition to descriptions of the kinds of spiritual experiences that ordinary people are having, how they are achieving them, and the ways in which they are filling their lives with meaning that goes beyond the horizons of material life. The author paints this picture in such a way as to let us in on what biblically based authentic spirituality and spiritual experience really is, and why it may or may not necessarily have anything to do with traditional institutionalized religion. He carefully and vividly explains the notion of spirituality as it is illustrated in the Bible and discusses spiritual experiences such as prayer, epiphany, visions, and other experiences. He considers whether spirituality is mainly a connection with God, with others, or with both. Readers hoping to get a better sense of what it means to be spiritual will have many of their questions answered in these pages.


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CHAPTER 1 Introduction
CHAPTER 2 The Varieties of Religious Experiences
CHAPTER 3 Biblical Spirituality as Walking with God
CHAPTER 4 Biblical Spirituality as Searching for God
Prayer Life
CHAPTER 8 Biblical Spirituality as Counting on God
Its Nature and Sources
Its Import and Consequences
CHAPTER 13 Modern Perspectives on Spirituality
Their Nature and Significance
CHAPTER 15 A Few Concluding Observations

CHAPTER 9 Biblical Spirituality and the Holy Spirit
CHAPTER 10 Visions and Visionaries in the Bible and Today

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About the author (2008)

J. Harold Ellens is a Research Scholar at the University of Michigan Department of Near Eastern Studies, a retired Presbyterian theologian, an ordained minister, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, and a retired Professor of Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology. He served 15 years as Executive Director of the Christian Association for Psychological Studies and was Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Psychology and Christianity. He has authored, co-authored, or edited 164 books, including The Destructive Power of Religion (Praeger, 2004) and Sex in the Bible (Praeger, 2006).

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