Re: personal revelations

From: Sondra Brasile (
Date: Wed Feb 19 2003 - 10:37:57 EST

  • Next message: Jay Willingham: "Re: personal revelations"

    Dear Robert and others,

    I've read all the posts about mysticism. I'm not quite sure what it is
    referring to. I'm sure I've seen it/experienced it, but what would the
    definition of it be? It seems to be a bit vague for me still. Is it a
    personal divine revelation, a vision?

    Thank you,
    Sondra Brasile

    >From: "Robert Schneider" <>
    >To: "Don Winterstein" <>, "Rich Blinne"
    ><>, "asa" <>
    >CC: <>
    >Subject: Re: personal revelations
    >Date: Wed, 19 Feb 2003 08:26:02 -0500
    >To avoid confusion, it may be helpful to distinguish between various forms
    >of revelation. I note three that have emerged throughout this discussion:
    >(1) mystical revelations, (2) prophetic revelations, and (3) personal
    >revelations. I think all three are attested in Scripture, and I agree that
    >such revelations did not end with the closing of the canon. I know for
    >certain that God has gifted me with two of these three. One I would
    >consider mystical: it was a moment of what Rudolf Otto in _The Experience
    >of the Holy_ referred to as a "mysterium tremendum"; it left me literally
    >trembling with awe at the Power that animates the univserse. It happened
    >only for a minute or so. The other was a personal revelation which
    >happened just a few months before, a word (I didn't hear a voice, yet the
    >words were very clear) that spoke to me in my deepest pain and brought
    >peace, healing and reconciliation. It was also a very brief moment. The
    >first was an experience of transcendence; the second of immanence: both
    >brought me back to faith. I don't know if I have ever spoken
    >prophetically, though it is possible that I have done so without realizing
    >it. I tend to think, however, that one who is called upon to speak
    >prophetically in the classic sense is one who is compelled and impelled to
    >so speak, and has a clear sense that God is calling him to do so.
    > There is a rich tradition of Christian mysticism that, as has been
    >noted, is not well known to many evangelicals. Its history has been
    >charted particularly over the past decade by a number of scholars; some in
    >particular have been attracted to such medieval mystics as Hildegarde of
    >Bingen, Mechthild of Magdeburg, Marguerite Porete (whom my wife Maria
    >Lichtmann has published on), and Meister Eckhardt. Bernard McGinn, a
    >prolific scholar on things mystical and apocalyptic, has been writing a
    >multivolume history. The title of the series: "The Presence of God: A
    >History of Wesern Christian Mysticism." Three volumes have been issued:
    >(1) _The Foundations of Mysticism: Origins to the Fifth Century_, (2) _The
    >Growth of Mysticism: Gregory the Great through the Twelfth Century_, (3)
    >_The Flowering of Mysticism: Men and Women in the New Mysticism--1200-1350_
    >. The fourth and fifth not yet completed volumes will be titled (4)
    >_Continuity and Change in Western Mysticism_ and (5) _The Crisis in
    >Mysticism_. These are thick tomes; there's a lot to write about.
    > I have begun to appreciate St. Paul's mysticism, thanks to Alan
    >Segal's excellent study, _Paul the Convert_. Segal is a Jewish scholar who
    >writes on early Christianity. He traces the influence of "Merkabah
    >mysticism" on Paul. I can see now the mystical dimension of some of Paul's
    >most inspired utterances.
    > The issue of the nature of revelatory experiences takes a new turn
    >with all of the recent work in the burgeoning field of neuroscience, and
    >the attempts to identify parts of the human brain that seem to be active
    >during periods of meditation and religious experience. It will be
    >interesting to see to what degree these studies help to illuminate the
    >psycho-physical dimensions of religious experience.
    >Bob Schneider
    > ----- Original Message -----
    > From: Don Winterstein
    > To: Rich Blinne ; asa
    > Cc:
    > Sent: Wednesday, February 19, 2003 4:08 AM
    > Subject: Re: personal revelations
    > > bivalve wrote:
    > >
    > > >Can such principles also apply to other claims of revelation? What
    > additional principles for assessing such claims have I overlooked?
    > > >
    > > >
    > > First and foremost the rule is consonance with Scripture.
    > It would be very instructive to review everything in the Bible on this
    > fascinating topic. But that would be a book-length undertaking.
    >Throughout most
    > OT times there were bands or schools of prophets. On rare occasion one
    >prophet would
    > prophesy one thing, and another would contradict him. Prophecy did not
    > with Jesus, as the Acts describes instances of prophecy, and Paul
    >himself was
    > a prophet. There is no scriptural reason for saying that prophecy
    > end with the Bible. In fact, to say that any new revelation is not of
    >God by virtue of being new would be to lay a major constraint on God. I
    >think I know him well enough to say he'd find that particular straitjacket
    > Rich Blinne in writing on mysticism said, "Those of us
    > who are evangelical, born-again Christians are by definition to
    > affirm the mystical. How are we to have a personal relationship with
    >God if
    > we have no subjective relationship?" By implication, then, all
    >Christians who have a personal relationship with God have a personal
    >revelation of God and hence are prophets when they speak of that
    >relationship, because the basic meaning of prophet is one who speaks for
    >God from personal revelation.
    > In ordinary usage we reserve the word prophecy for special and unusual
    >revelations. Although consonance with Scripture is perhaps a good rule in
    >our time, how about OT times when Scripture of any sort was minimal or
    >nonexistent? People asked Moses how to tell when a message came from God.
    >He said (Deut. 18:22), "If what a prophet proclaims.does not take place or
    >come true, " then don't believe him. But by this standard you can only
    >know in retrospect, so it's not always the most useful standard. I'm not
    >sure, honestly, how Ezekiel would fare by this standard, either. He makes
    >predictions about Sodom and Tyre that several years ago I was unable to
    >verify were ever fulfilled. He also seems to imply in one of his later
    >chapters that the Messiah (the "prince") would have children. Another
    >informative study would involve checking out all the detailed prophecies
    >made by canonical prophets about foreign nations to see whether fulfillment
    >could be verified. The Bible has been so thoroughly studied I wouldn't be
    >surprised to find that someone's already done this.
    > Jesus gave us a very simple standard (Matt. 7:15-16): "Watch out for
    >false prophets..By their fruit you will recognize them." What does this
    >mean? Obviously it would include such things as grossly immoral behavior,
    >self-aggrandizement, sucking the flock dry of their earthly possessions for
    >one's own benefit and instructing the flock to live in ways contrary to the
    >teachings of Jesus and the apostles. But care is required. For example,
    >Isaiah ran around nude for--what was it?--three years, Ezekiel lay on his
    >left side for 390 days. So obviously you don't rule out a prophet just
    >because he's odd. Contemporary Christians as a rule are gun-shy about
    >special revelations because of all the ones in the past that were clearly
    >not from God, and now they are perhaps more gun-shy than they should be.
    > As one who has had probably one of the most startling revelations of
    >all, and who at this time feels constrained by God to make it public
    >despite the fact that at the time it was very private and it occurred more
    >than 40 years ago, I have a personal interest in how this question gets
    >answered. First of all, you may decide that the particular revelation is
    >not meant for you and therefore ignore it. What I call my revelation I
    >suspect is not going to be of much consequence for many Christians, and I'd
    >expect them to take no special action. However, I can't help but believe
    >that it is going to be of consequence for Christianity as a whole. This is
    >partly because I don't think God would do something of this sort just for
    >my personal benefit, even though I was willing to accept that idea for four
    >decades and so told no one about it. My revelation introduces a high
    >degree of novelty relative to previous divine revelations, but it should
    >not be dismissed for that reason. God occasionally likes to startle and
    >even shock people. It involves no teachings that cannot also be gleaned
    >from Scripture, although admittedly they come from parts of Scripture most
    >people are not familiar with. My deductions about origins from this
    >revelation, of course, are inconsistent with a literal reading of Genesis
    >but consistent with science; but this should not be a problem for people
    > What I suggest is that you don't make snap judgments. If you decide my
    >revelation might be relevant to you, then carefully assess what I say and
    >what my objectives seem to be. If it still doesn't seem right, then forget
    >it. I won't be offended. Frankly, this task God has set for me seems
    >totally impossible, so I won't be at all surprised if nothing comes of it.
    >But I have made a commitment to God to follow through on this, and if I
    >didn't do it on my own, he wouldn't let me rest until I did. That's the
    >kind of person he is. So, yes, I'm doing it eagerly on my own, but back
    >behind me somewhere I sense this really big boot poised to strike.
    > Don
    > PS - Correction on that "I won't be at all surprised if nothing comes of
    >it" thought: Humanly speaking, I wouldn't be surprised; but because God is
    >behind me here, I actually will be surprised if nothing comes of it.

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