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Assess the view that personal religious experiences are the inspiration and driving force of faith and practice. Include your own point of view.

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Introduction

Assess the view that personal religious experiences are the inspiration and driving force of faith and practice. Include your own point of view. Religious experiences can be seen as an influential role in the inspiration and driving force of faith and practice. Religious experiences can inspire and motivate and can enhance a religious believer's faith in God. However, there are certainly many more aspects of a person's experience of religion, which can have equally inspiring effects. I will begin by assessing how religious experiences can indeed be an inspiring and, in a way, the driving force of faith. A religious experience is a difficult phenomenon to describe, as it is a very personal event. Theologians such as Swinburne have attempted to categorise religious experiences, to make them easier to understand. For example, Swinburne split religious experience up into five different groups, including the categories of public and private experience. ...read more.

Middle

A more recent example would be Neale Donald Walsch and his 'Conversations with God' books, in which he records the dialogues he believes he had with God. Both examples demonstrate how religious experiences can be an inspiration and a driving force to faith and practice; after a religious experience the person can feel enlightened and with a new perspective of life. An excellent illustration of religious experiences playing an important role in faith would be charismatic experiences, in which people are inspired or enthused. Within the Christian tradition, there has been increasing evidence in recent years of powerful and emotional experiences. One particular group, which originated in a church at Toronto airport, experiences which have become known as the Toronto Blessing. People shake with laughter or collapse on the ground. They may cry or wail. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although religious experience does offer inspiration and motivation, it is not the main feature of devoted faith and cannot be relied upon alone. Faith is far more than simply having an experience that seems to prove The Divine's existence; religion and faith should be the way in which people have chosen to live their lives. People who have not had religious experiences are by no means less devoted than those who have had an experience; in some ways their faith can be stronger as it has withstood the challenges and uncertainties the person might have felt in having no kind of 'proof'. In conclusion, we can see that religious experiences can be the inspiration and driving force of faith, but that religious experience should not be seen as the only element in creating a devoted believer. I personally feel that, although religious experiences have undoubtedly affected many people, faith should be able to thrive without such experiences. If faith were to rely upon experience alone, it wouldn't be faith at all. ...read more.

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