There has been a drastic high rise of theological empiricism in recent decades across the religious land scape of America. The axiom of empiricism (science), sensation, needs only the five senses to extrapolate knowledge. When you hear someone accuse another of being sensational, it just means there is a heightened appeal to the senses.
Highly evolved scientific societies like ancient Greece, Rome, the former USSR, revered a political view that made science the center of their world. In such a world where experience (sensation) casts is primal influence, all knowledge is filtered through the senses and there can be no other knowledge that exists beyond this realm. As a result, those countries became pluralistic. It is the only logical conclusion that can be deduced from a sense based consciousness.
This paradigm then creates an inertia that will ultimately impregnate the religion of that country. My theory is, this is what we are witnessing in the post modern church of America. There has been a decisive shift from Luther’s sola scriptura to sola experientia. The hermeneutic is sweltered inside our sense data base and our perception craves sensation and experience for validation.
Therefore, it is no wonder that the main line denominations in America have all but collapsed. A 500 year reformation has closed its doors because it can not tolerate a world of sensationalism. An intellectual feat such as The Institutes by Calvincould never be re-created in the religious culture of today. The power of the intellect would be greatly diminished if overshadowed by a strict, reductionist’s, empirical belief.
The over developed emphasis on sensation subdivides the intellect and reduces the deductive powers of the mind. Thinking does not feel (at least it doesn’t to most people) as well as sensing and experiencing. Inside the mind, independent of experience, levies all of one’s concentration on using his intellectual prowess.
If one traverses the theaters and dares to view some of the modern Christian movies, or attend the local churches, he will witness bizarre scenes; non-fictional stories of people coming back from the dead and publishing a book about it, healing events, chairs being thrown around, in short, sensational events. One also finds, the pastor’s sermons are irrational and have no logical train of thought.
Because experiences are personal, no one can prove or disprove an experience. There would have to be some objective standard of judgment. An experience stands on its own merit with nothing more than an anecdote to support it. It is no wonder that people crave them, because real life has a tendency to be boring and un-eventful. Sensationalism creates excitement and raises one’s emotional thermometer.
Who wouldn’t want to attend a healing meeting and be relieved of the sickness? Unfortunately, much of the healing that occurs at these healing revivals are those illnesses that are not organic. Heightened levels of excitement can alleviate ones pain that is not pathological.
Emotions that grow out of a one time experience have no roots and the excitement that one receives will last only as long as the memory of that experience.
One interesting development is the revival of speaking in tongues with in the church. This phenomenon does not even follow the example that is often quoted from the bible in Acts 2:2. When context is applied, there is logic to the passage. The people at that time were from various nations and were hearing the message spoken in their own language.
The Greek words for “unknown tongues” is heteros glossa. Heteros is the derivative of our word, hetero, for example, hetero sexual, or “other” sex. Glossa is the word for language. heteros glossa should be translated as “other languages.” The Pentecost phenomena has far more to do with understanding the message and content than what it does with experiencing something. Jesus said, “a wicked and adulterous generation seeks a sign.”
The controversial passage in 1st Corinthians 13:8, New American Standard Bible: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” is often misunderstood in today’s church, however, the meaning of the passage is clear in the Greek language. The word for “cease,” or “fail,” is katargeo which is in the perfect verb tense/continuous action, and means “to be done away with, or discontinue.”
A different verb (encapsulates a similar meaning as katargeo) is used for “have sinned” in the passage “For all havesinned and fall short…” All “have sinned” (Aorist tense, past time point action) and “fall short” (present tense and continued action).
Since katargeo is continuous action, the question becomes, when will tongues be done away with? The answer lies in the legitimacy of what is in practice today compared to the passages recorded during 1st century Palestine. The same could be said of miracles. The Corinthian passage where Paul wrote that he spoke in tongues privately still uses the Greek word glossa, which I have already written, means language. He spoke in a language that he most likely understood. There is no empirical evidence that the tongues in today’s church are congruent with what is recorded in the Corinthian passages, or Acts.
Certain gifts are no longer needed. They serve their purpose and outlive their usefulness. While God does not change his methods do. If one reads the new testament, in the earlier letters, the apostles are able to heal, but in the later letters, they are not even able to heal their own sicknesses.
If it is true that people of today have the gift of healing, then why don’t they go into hospitals and heal people. What would we need the practice of medicine for if faith was the only barrier standing in the way between humans and cancer? Why are the so called “tongues” babbling that neither the person speaking them nor the hearers know what is being said? What purpose does it serve? Does it make people feel good? So do many other things that are not “tongues.”
The reason they are called miracles is because they do not happen very often. Any “miracle” that was an every day occurrence would not be classified as a miracle. The proposed argument is a reductio ad absurdum Be careful about what you are asked to believe. If it does not make sense, then you should always question.