The Validity of Christian Religious Experiences

Where would the common ground be?
Do you have any experience which you would categorize as spiritual?

I would not categorize it that way, but others might well do so.

That is an example of a productive discussion that could be had. If Christians actually described in specific terms what a “personal relationship with Jesus” entails, and how this differs from and what it shares on common with “spiritual experiences” claimed by people of other faith traditions and worldviews. But this would require a degree of skepticism regarding one’s personal interpretation of one’s experiences that I suspect many believers are not comfortable with. So, instead, we get bald assertions of “I have a personal relationship with Jesus. If you don’t, well, nothing more to be said.” That’s what I mean by this leading to dead end.


Can you share it so that we can understand if others may categorize it as spiritual?

As to Christian’s interpretation of their experiences, I am sure most Christian’s are the same as you. They are self aware enough to understand other people might categorize or interpret their experiences differently, while holding on to their personal interpretation/understanding closely.
There is the additional factor that the experience of Jesus is a continuous one for most Christian’s including me. Hence, we call it a relationship.

Why propose different rules for christians. Rules which you yourself dont seem to follow?

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As your comment was directed to me, I can say with confidence that I have never disregarded the belief or opposite stance of non-Christians. I merely explain my own experience and how I have been effected by the truth that I find in my relationship with Jesus. I am bold about my own belief, but do not press my belief on others, because I know that it is personal. You are welcome to explain your own personal spirituality or atheism and I would not disregard it.

I am doing my best to describe it…


I’m sorry, that is not a description at all. If I’d asked you to describe a duck, you would not say “You’ll know one when you see one, but only if you want to see it.” You’ll provide a description of a duck.

Now, I accept that you may be describing a subjective experience like pain or happiness, and if this was not something that everyone experienced it would be very difficult for someone who has experienced it to describe to someone who has not. That them raises the question of how you know this thing you experienced was Jesus. Can you speak on that?

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I think I can. I appreciate that you are seeking to understand, but I may or may not be able to articulate it in a way that makes sense to an unbeliever. I will give it a shot, I think I understand what you mean…I feel a little like a guinea pig…keep in mind I am being very vulnerable here, try not to tear me apart.

The short answer is that I get confirmation through prayer and the bible and interaction with other people, but that is not concrete. I equate Jesus with the bible (He is the Word of God) and have a personal relationship that develops over time with truth in the Word as I seek God in prayer. I have had specific times where a scripture makes no sense, then I pray and converse with Jesus/Father/Spirit in my heart and the meaning is made clear…the relationship is personal because I change and grow at a different pace and with different understanding than others, but my way/experience is no better or worse than others…I guess that the “personal relationship” I have is with the bible, which I consider the Word of God, which to me is also a representation of Jesus. That relationship changes as I seek truth, or ignore truth, or am obedient or disobedient to His Word. My life has significantly more peace when I allow Him to guide my thoughts and actions. If I try to understand the Word without communicating with Him directly, I struggle to understand, so that makes it seem to me very personal. Not sure if any of that makes sense to a non-believer.

I know it is Jesus because that is what He (the bible, the Word) says. The book of John is the best scriptural reference (to me) regarding who Jesus was, is, is to come. I have found deeper meaning to my own life as the bible connects and confirms truth throughout all of the books. That belief is reinforced through interactions with others as God moves in my life.

I have been thinking about science and the necessity of faith to successfully put forth a new theory. Scientific breakthroughs do not occur without someone first believing in a new theory (having faith that there is a better way)…then going about proving it. Knowing Jesus is the same for me, I had faith that there was a better Way, and He changed my heart so that I could understand who He is and how He effects my life by having faith in Him (In the Word). So, agreed that it is cyclical and hard to find a starting point.

I know that it is Jesus in the same way that you know that DNA is responsible for our genetic makeup…faith, hypothesis, research, belief, evidence, education, understanding, testing, experiment, failure, success…but my results are in peace, joy, love, hope…things that are not quantifiable unless experienced. Without faith in Jesus I was lost, angry, prideful and hopeless. So I believe it is my relationship with Jesus that has given me hope and a new life (my understanding of who He is…being able to explain which form He takes matters not…it is my faith in Him and belief that my relationship with Him changes me for the better that matters). So, even if I’m wrong, I’m better off now than I was without Him.




The one place where it should be safe to describe and discuss a Christian view of faith … should be Peaceful Science.

@swamidass, would you agree with this?

Easy George, we’re working it out…I don’t think that post was meant to be as harsh as it seemed.

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Tolerance of Faith-based premises should be, at the very least, a given at Peaceful Science.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. That helps me understand where you are coming from. I appreciate that you are not comfortable with your beliefs being challenged, so I will end the discussion here.


It’s interesting to note that you never discussed your own " not spiritual" experiences…
Or put them out their so that your interpretation of said experiences can be challenged.

No one here has provided a description of their own “spiritual” experience that is sufficiently detailed to allow me to determine if I have shared that experience.

We are left with at least two options: Christians are experiencing something that non-believers have not. Or they are interpreting experiences that many if not all most people share, as a “personal relationship with Jesus.”

There does not seem to be enough information being provided here to allow a productive discussion over which is correct.


That sounds correct @Faizal_Ali.


I am ok with my faith being challenged, I would in fact welcome it. I just don’t like the name calling and referring to another person’s beliefs as nonsense. I will respect your viewpoint if you can respect mine. If you would like to continue the conversation, perhaps another thread. Not sure what we’d call it. I can tell you that what I have experienced is specific and identifiable (to me), a major shift in thought and feeling that happened in a noticeable fashion (though hard to describe).

I studied the bible as a non-believer and got nothing out of it, I studied eastern religion and philosophy in my college years as well. For nearly 50 years, I was confident that there was nothing in the bible for me, that it was “just stories”. Then my life changed in a moment of brokenness. It was 17 months ago and I can describe the exact moment and how my life changed with great detail. I know I’m not crazy or irrational about it, I am a fairly skeptical and level headed person. Anyway, my story may be unique, maybe not…but I am willing to share if it can be productive and in a non-confrontational manner.

I can say that as a Christian I am definitely experiencing something that I did not experience as a non-believer, without a doubt. I also know that I am not interpreting normal experiences that all people have as “personal relationship with Jesus”. I know because I have lived both ways.


And I can agree with you here too @Mark10.45.


Perhaps the only way forward is a personal investigation/journey.

I don’t think there is a way forward.

There is a group of people who claim to have a subjective experience that cannot be understood unless one has also experienced.

Back to my earlier example of a subjective experience like happiness or physical pain. If someone had never experienced these things, I have no idea how I could describe them so that this person would fully appreciate what the experience entails. I believe the technical term for this elusive attribute of subjective experience is “qualia”.

But suppose we had a device thru which we could connect our brains and allow the other to experience what we are experiencing. So I do this with the guy who does not know what “pain” is, and he responds, “Oh, yeah. I feel that all the time, like when I hit my thumb with a hammer or something. I didn’t know there was a name for that.”

If you were to use this device to permit to experience this “personal relationship with Jesus”, maybe I will understand that it is a completely different thing from anything I have experienced, and will also be convinced that I am in a personal relationship with a person who died 2000 years ago. But it is also possible that I will say, “Oh, yeah. I know that feeling. It’s (fill in the blank).”


Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance, the only thing it cannot be is moderately important.

C.S. Lewis

Are you willing to consider the possibility it is true?

Fair enough…my invitation is open.

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Well, if I go by your description, what you are talking about is reading a book, having trouble understanding it, then reading it again and then understanding it.

That happens to me all the time. I fail to see how that amounts to my having a “personal relationship with Jesus.” What am I missing?