What Event is the Foundation of the Christian Faith? Part 2
This is how I responded to my friend's discussion, outlined in part 1: The point of my response was that similarities and commonalities of experience, religious experience in this instance, is to be expected on the one hand because of our shared humanity (and religious orientation, imo), and on the other hand it has no conclusive bearing on the truth/falsehood of truth itself, religious or otherwise. So the fact that a Pentecostal speaks in tongues and a Buddhist speaks in tongues and the physiological, emotional, mental experience is similar to the person says little about the truthfulness or falsehood of either Christianity or Buddhism. And putting the experience into a science lab and mapping the brain and confirming the similarities of the experience at that level really has no bearing either; it just shows that just like two people speaking in tongues are doing the same thing with their tongues they are also doing the same thing with their brains though the person is conscious of the one (tongues) but not of the latter (brain waves).
This very point, that humans can have such religious/spiritual experiences in various religious contexts whether sacrificing to an idol, shouting for Jesus, contemplating the sound of nothingness, or chanting to achieve a state of inner peace, is a point that is affirmed throughout the Christian Scriptures. Thus, when Paul addresses the gifts of the Spirit, including tongues, in 1 Corinthians 12 - 14, his very first point is that such experiences are from God only in the context of the basic Christian confession that Jesus is Lord (12:3). Paul is admitting that experiences can be misleading and come from many sources and or inspirations. Thus, he sets out what differentiates the influence of God's Spirit from other sources: God's Spirit leads people to confess that Jesus is Lord and live their lives for Him and manifest the kind of love that characterizes God Himself (1 Co. 13).
I think Paul's words in 1 Co. 12:1-3 show us that the experience of speaking in tongues or other spiritual/religious experiences is not the foundation of the Christian faith and never was intended to be. Instead, the foundation is the truth about Jesus: He is Lord. This is the central truth of the Christian faith and this is confirmed by His resurrection. The historical event of the resurrection of Jesus is the hinge of this whole thing, which is exactly Paul's point in 1 Corinthians 15. Either Jesus rose from the dead and validated His claims to being the Christ and the Son of God or He did not rise from the dead and the New Testament is a lie. Thus, one needs to decide what they believe about Jesus and His life, death, and resurrection and go from there.
So one can argue religion and spirituality to the day of the big crunch when the universe collapses in on itself and do so from every conceivable angle - psychological, physiological, sociological, comparative religious studies or whatever - and get pretty much no where. But if Jesus really was dead for three days and walked out of His tomb on the first day of the week then that changes everything.
So, in summary, the foundational event for the Christian faith is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth not your personal spiritual experiences. This is not to denigrate one's experiences of the Spirit but to qualify them and make an absolutely vital distinction, one that the New Testament makes as well particularly in 1 Co. 12-15. At the end of the day we must deal with facts not feelings and I believe that the Scriptures are more than able to handle that.
What do you think?