Isn’t Christian Experience Only Psychological?

Some suggest that we have faith only because we have been conditioned since early childhood. We have been raised like Pavlov’s dogs. But this is an oversimplification; Christians have been converted from every imaginable background. Thousands have had no childhood contact with Christianity. Yet each will testify to a personal encounter with Christ that transformed his or her life. The Lord, Himself, is the only constant factor.  Others assert that spiritual ideals are essentially wish fulfillments. They can be traced to a person’s feeling a need for God, creating an image in his or her mind, and then worshiping the mental projection. Objective reality is totally lacking. Religion is called a crutch for people who cannot get along in life. Religious people are self-hypnotized.  What is our objective evidence for our subjective experiences? Christianity differs from autohypnosis, wish fulfillments, and all the other psychological phenomena in that the Christian’s subjective experience is securely bound to an objective, historical fact, namely the resurrection from the dead of Jesus Christ.

If the Resurrection is true, it makes all the difference in the world. It is confirmation of God’s revelation in Christ, an absolute truth, a historical fact outside of ourselves, an objective fact to which our subjective experience is tied. We need to hold the objective and the subjective in proper perspective. I need to recognize that my experience is based on the solid foundation of an objective fact in history.  Evidence for the Resurrection, by J. N. D. Anderson, is a brief and helpful summary. He discusses the evidence and the various alternatives that have been advanced to explain away the Resurrection, showing why, in the light of the data, each explanation is inadequate.

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