Toward the integration of religious and ordinary experience: in conversation with Alvin Plantinga, Mark Wynn, and Thomas Aquinas

International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 76 (1):20-35 (2015)
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Abstract

In theological and philosophical circles, religious experience has often been described in terms of a direct encounter with the supernatural that exceeds the possibilities of normal human experience. More recently, however, select scholars have endeavored to explore the respects in which ordinary aesthetic experiences might serve as a site for mediated encounters with the divine. In this paper, I will argue that any attempt to establish the legitimacy of both direct and aesthetic religious experiences depends upon their placement within a larger context, which recognizes the sense in which all forms of ordinary human experience may mediate an experience of God. In order to bolster this claim, I will begin with a critical assessment of the relevant work of Alvin Plantinga and Mark Wynn, who respectively offer accounts of direct and aesthetic religious experience. I will then show that neither account fully evades two main objections that tend to be leveled against accounts of religious experience. Following this discussion, I will develop an account of the way all ordinary human experiences may mediate religious experience, in conversation with Thomas Aquinas. Far from precluding narrower accounts of religious experience as direct or aesthetic, this account includes them in a way that makes it possible to determine their validity.

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Author's Profile

Lydia Schumacher
King's College London

Citations of this work

Analytic theology and contemporary inquiry.Martin Westerholm - 2018 - International Journal of Philosophy and Theology 80 (3):230-254.

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References found in this work

God, freedom, and evil.Alvin Plantinga - 1978 - Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
Plantinga on warrant.Richard Swinburne - 2001 - Religious Studies 37 (2):203-214.
Alvin Plantinga on the ontological argument.William L. Rowe - 2009 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 65 (2):87 - 92.

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