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Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Worship and Neuro-theology
Check out "Faith is More than a Feeling:  The Problem with Neurotheology is that it Confuses 
Spiritual Experiences-- Which Few Believers Actually Have-- With Religion, a short article in this weeks' Newsweek Magazine discussing the connections or lack thereof between neuroscience, spiritual experience and God. 

Those who follow this blog know of my ongoing interest in this conversation. One of the big questions I have for Christian worship and worship leadership is whether it leads us into an experience that is escapist in nature or toward a deeper immersion into the Life of God.  I summarize it as the contrast between Narnia and Nirvana. Narnia is a deeper place of reality.  Nirvana is only a deeper place in our own spiritual experience. Is worship an escape into an existential experience or entering into an encounter with eternal reality.  It is quite easy to confuse the two.  Is worship about being led to my "happy place," or being radically reoriented around the reality of the God we know in Jesus Christ?  Or are these the same place after all???

So how do we tell the difference? In the end, I posit there is only one way to tell where authentic worship happens:  Examine what happens outside the worship gathering.  Are worshippers loving others in ways that go against their self interest? As the article points out-- Saints aren't canonized because of their religious experience, but for their extravagant sacrificial love. 

How about it? Does the article shed any helpful light on the subject? What questions does it raise for you? 
posted by John David Walt | at 4/29/2009 09:08:00 PM



Blogger OnNorthFace said...

A lot going on in this article! Great to see this stuff hitting the secular press.

Couple of things that struck me that is unique to the Christian experience vs other faiths mentioned is that yes we are to 'overcome self', but that we are given the Spirit to enable that move. It's not just an ascetic self-lashing.

Experiences of God can only assist in our continual transformation toward dying to self more and more and putting others before ourselves more and more.

Therefore, dissecting 'religion' (i.e. 'doing') from 'experience' (i.e., 'being') doesn't seem particularly helpful.

Another aspect is the notion that our lives and experiences of God are for His glory. Both the being and doing.

People can misrepresent the passage "be still and know that I am God" by leaving out it's counterpart "I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth".

All we do is to give God glory. It's all about Jesus.

I don't think we can live (well) as Christians without having personal time with God combined with the practical outworking of His love.

I'm not sure it's a case of precedence or priority. The two go hand in hand. We have to 'be' as well as 'do' to the glory of God the Father.

3:31 PM EDT  

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