Monday 28 October 2019

Personal divine revelations and the snare of generalisation

I seems that quite a few people have divine revelations of one kind or another - knowing, visions, understanding, miracles...

I regard this as the most profound source of insight. However...

Such experience often does people no good, or harm - because they try to make this personal gift into something public, universal or in some way general.

This may be for reasons of pride, or to try and gain prophetic status... or it may be from a humble desire to do good - but it is usually an error.

As a rule, I'm pretty sure God works with individuals, communicates one to one. To describe such interactions is rather like reporting to third parties a private conversation between husband and wife. It is a kind of betrayal.

It seems right to acknowledge that such things happen and are vitally important. But we should not, or seldom and only selectively, discuss the details.


Gary Bleasdale said...

Is not a large part of this blog a communication of (filtered, processed) personal revelation?
If so, doesn't that mean that there is an important place for this type of communication(in a general and non-seldom way)?
And again, if so, what would the conditions under which it would be a good thing be? Or is criterion something that something that can't be generalized?

Jared said...

Plato said that the most important, or at least some things that he knew, he would never put in writing, as far as I remember. I have similar feelings. A video the LDS Church made a few years ago in 2013 about Joseph Smith shared a message that may relate to this topic as well. The mother of the perplexed young Joseph Smith tells him that he must seek that knowledge that 'man cannot give, or take away'.
The truth was not made to harm you, although realizing an eternal truth can bring division. 'I am not come to send peace on earth' said Jesus, 'but a sword'. If we begin to use truth, as we understand it, to harm ourselves or others, we prove that we have not received it completely in its context.
There is the inside mind and the spirit, and what is communicated to our inside mind but is not understood by our spirit is probably just part of the constant flow of information which connects us to the world of phenomena and may not actually be about lasting or eternal truth.
If we remember something well enough to live it, then we can often show better by our other words and actions that we understand that gem than we can by trying to tell it directly, and it is best not to try to tell other people that gem.
That's why I like this blog because it calls us all on the journey we have already begun and it describes what it has been like for a fellow traveler.
Personal revelation is like the ephod of the high priest of Israel in Moses' day. Each gem has it's own characteristic like the different gems in the ephod that represented the 12 tribes and each person is like that gem. They are all different and God interacts differently with each of them. This is true of our spirits even more than it is true of our physical characteristics, because we have been around for ages living in heaven with God before this life.
There is no substitute for having God in your life. At the same time, there is no substitute for having social connections. That's why there are several aspects to life, including social, spiritual, physical, and emotional.
There is a balance between the spiritual and the social. It actually helps the process of revelation.

Bruce Charlton said...

Gary. The post is partly an admonition to myself about what I should say and what not. I may well have been too specific in the past, for which I repent.

I think we can distinguish. e.g. When I became a Christian I experienced two answered prayers, and later a small miracle. These were very important to me, and I think it is important to acknowledge the fact. But I have not shared the specific content with anyone.

Bruce Charlton said...

Jared. The way I would put it is that those who do not want and value Loving 'social connections' do not want the resurrected life everlasting of Heaven - because Heaven is 'social'.

a_probst said...

This post squares with a thought I had a few years back that if I should witness a miracle I would most likely not report it to anyone, though I might if I were one of many to see it, as with the sun vision at Fatima. Then I could intuit it was meant to be shared.

Apart from scriptural reports of miracles, and the Sacraments, Christianity as professed and practiced places very little emphasis on metaphysics and the how of spiritual things, certainly not in the most-quoted passages of scripture (I had to add that last clause because I've still yet to do truly extensive Bible reading). The emphasis is on love, adoration, morality; scripture contains many exhortations to these.

Eastern religions, on the other hand, have been presented to Westerners in a manner that appeals to the latent technocrat in them (us), to people accustomed to pulling levers and pressing buttons to get what they want. It dovetails nicely with youths' greater facility with and interest in the latest technology and their elders' perceived obtuseness.

RE: Your answer to Jared. No disagreement. I only want to add that many people we perceive not to value loving social connections in fact do, or will when they get a taste of them.