“Think Different–Accept Uncertainty” Part XV: Was Lazarus Raised from the Dead?
9 August 2012: 3 Comments »
Before leaving my brief analysis of the miracle stories of the New Testament, I want to look at what is probably the best known miraculous act attributed to Jesus in the entire gospel tradition. That is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It is a narrative told only in the Fourth Gospel (John 11), …
Question & Answer
Can you please explain to me the phenomena "speaking in tongues" and the "supposed healing" at Charismatic Masses?
Most of the speaking in tongues phenomenon, technically called glossolalia, is hysterical nonsense brought on by heightened religious emotion and autosuggestion. I regard it as more of a manifestation of mental illness than as a spiritual virtue.
The story of Pentecost in the book of Acts suggested that those filled with the Spirit were able to communicate with their hearers by speaking whatever language the hearer understood. It was a parable in the boundary-breaking Christ experience, not a miracle story of huge proportions. It was in the minds of the Jewish hearers a narrative that suggested a reversal of the story of the confusion of languages at the Tower of Babel in the book of Genesis. The idea that in a heightened spiritual awareness one can access a secret language is nonsense to me. Just because a practice is supposedly religious does not mean it isn’t “kookie!”
In terms of most spontaneous religious healing, I would rather be treated by a trained doctor than by the prayers or laying on of hands by Oral Roberts. There are some illnesses that are more psychological than physical and I suppose that religious intensity can change the symptoms dramatically. I do not think that means one is saved, it means one is dealing with one’s demons in a new way. I would expect to see those “cures” dissipate in a matter of time.
To the degree that religion fosters wholeness it is a factor in healing but I see little evidence that popular religion is about wholeness so much as it is about guilt and power. Mental health, physical health, proper exercise, weight control, proper diet and regular sleep are all activities that lead to the fullness of life. Why anyone would want to compromise that fullness with some weird religious practice escapes me.
~John Shelby Spong
Read what Bishop Spong has to say about A Joyful Path Progressive Christian Spiritual Curriculum for Young Hearts and Minds: "The great need in the Christian church is for a Sunday school curriculum for children that does not equate faith with having a pre-modern mind. The Center for Progressive Christianity has produced just that. Teachers can now teach children in Sunday school without crossing their fingers. I endorse it wholeheartedly."
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