You know what is seriously lacking in contemporary Christianity? The sense of God’s utter holiness. His otherness. And, I get why that is… Roman Catholicism focused nearly exclusively on the mysterium tremendem. With disasterous results.
My Grandmother had a sense of the numinous– the otherworldly nature of Divinity. But, my Grandmother was also insane. So, I never really took her view of worship seriously. My devoutly Protestant nuclear family had such disdain for her Catholic ideals…
However, I think I get it now.
Protestantism has neglected the religious experience to such an extent as to deny God’s otherness exists at all.
Anyone who has had a religious experience can tell you though– God can be terrifying.
I’ll out myself here. I’ve had terrifying religious experiences. If only they had been hallucinations, I would gladly seek professional help! But they were not that kind of experience. At least, mine haven’t been.
Mine have always been like a sixth sense. A ‘knowing’ that shakes me to the core of my being. And usually leaves me physically shaken up as well.
Isaiah touches on the phenomena:
“All these things my hand has made,
and so all these things are mine,
says the Lord.
But this is the one to whom I will look,
to the humble and contrite in spirit,
who trembles at my word.”
Isaiah 66:2 (NRSV)
As does Jeremiah:
“I did not sit in the company of merrymakers, nor did I rejoice; under the weight of your hand I sat alone, for you had filled me with indignation.”
Jeremiah 15:17 (NRSV)
And the New Testament:
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”
1 Peter 5:6 (ESV)
Now, I’m not outing myself here to exalt myself. I’m a Christian. We do not believe that any one sinner is better than another. (And I am most definitely an egregious sinner. No doubt about it.)
I’m opening a discussion here in hopes that others that have fallen under ‘the hand of God’ can know they are not alone. The experience cannot be explained away, and popular contemporary Christian theological ideas tend to overlook individual experience.
If you haven’t experienced the Holiness of God in this manner, it does not make you less of a Christian, or less-than in anyway. Christianity differs from other religious/spiritual pursuits in this way: God does what He does, and chooses who He chooses. I didn’t pick God– He picked me. Just wanted to clear that all up;)
Have you had a religious experience? If so, or if not, feel free to comment below:)