Testing the Spirits

One of the great needs of our day it seems to me is the need for us to consider the nature of religious experience. For an age that is so taken with the idea of religious experience there is comparatively little examination of such experience. Instead it seems to increasingly be the case that all religious experience is considered to be authentic religious experience. Previous generations took the task of examining the nature of religious experience much more seriously. And whilst lacking the tools of modern psychology they also understood it remarkably well.

One example of this is found in the work of Archibald Alexander in his 1844 work ‘Thoughts on Religious Experience.’ In this work Alexander gives detailed consideration to true and false religious experience. As someone who lived through times of revival offers many wise words that all who are interested in the true work of God in their own lives and in the lives of others would do well to read. This work offers a helpful antidote to the superficiality that afflicts the contemporary church. And where sadly many are deluded with regard to the true nature of religious experience. Alexander’s work touches upon issues of eternal consequence which we would all do well to heed. He covers many helpful topics including dreams, true and false conversions, the effects of age on spiritual vigour, the variety of conversion experiences, the relationship between sin and dreams and draws on many historical illustrations of his points.

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