Thursday, April 15, 2010

Thoughts?

LSD and Worship

14 comments:

dave johnson said...

This certainly changes the meaning of "Most High."

aaron said...

Bah Dum Cha!!

And here I thought I would get a serious answer out of superDave on this one.

Definitely reinforces the importance of robust truth and clear headed speaking at church.

Mrs. Huse Clifton said...

I have had both experiences in my life drug induced highs and spiritual highs. I choose GOD. Nothing can beat that high.

Trevor said...

The "problem" the author introduces is not a real one when examined from the standpoint of authentic Christian spirituality. Mystical experience is not primarily about the individual, but about God's work. I have only just skimmed the top of the Christian mystic tradition, but what I have read would not be compatible with taking a hallucinogen because it is not something we control. It is only a work of Grace that we journey in through humility.

Another reason why it fails to be a problem, is that historic Christian worship was understood to be sacramental. The Eucharist stood at the center of the liturgy as a miracle of God where Christ becomes present. Among other things this provides a merciful way to get out of our heads, and striving for experience, because we encounter an objective reality. So, we are given an experience much more like the apostles. They ultimately said "yes", or "no" to a real objective presence in their midst, Jesus. So, ultimately what they felt or didn't feel was secondary to reality.

This miracle in the Eucharist is something that can never be replaced by reproducing a chemical reaction in our brains. Thanks be to God!

aaron said...

Yeah, I'm not sure he's having that conversation, Trev. I think that he's talking about the perception that folks think they need to "feel" a Christian experience, or, that the clergy has to "provide" them with a certain feeling.

That kind of thinking has led to bad worship practice.

No doubt what you said was true. . that there is an objective spiritual reality that one can experience that is different than drugs, etc. . . But, perhaps in a survey afterwards, a person would describe the two things as similar. Perception is not reality, but it might seem like it sometimes.

I"m with you. . . I just think it's another wake up call to folks trying to "create spiritual experiences" apart from truth or with electronic equipment, etc. . . .

Trevor said...

Yeah, maybe I missed his point. I thought what I wrote was relevant to the article. What did I miss?

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aaron said...

Trev,

No, I thought what you said was totally relevant. I think what he's specifically addressing is not so much "Can you have a real religious experience that is different from drugs?" which is what you seemed to be answering.

I took him as saying "if you're just trying to provide a religious experience in an existential way, folks can get something like that with drugs".

Of course, I could be misreading it too, so no sweat.

Trevor said...

Aaron,

Thanks for clarifying. What I was really trying to say is, a proper understanding of an authentic Christian religious experience shows that the experience with drugs is not one :) So, they can't be legitimately compared. Or, to say it another way, someone who describes the two things as a similar experience in a survey is misunderstanding what an authentic Christian religious experience is. To do so, presumes a reductionist philosophy about our human nature, and becomes a slippery slope to agnosticism, not to mention drug addiction :)

I can't tell whether the author is just using the LSD facts to make a point about what he thinks is a trend of improper understanding about religious experience, or if he is actually leaving room for the use of these drugs in future religious services as long as some understanding of Christ is not lost.

I am sure you are encountering this challenge to some degree as a worship leader. I think the history of Christian worship I mentioned is relevant to these challenges that are cropping up in Evangelicalism. The testimony of all of orthodox Christianity until the reformation shows a Eucharistic centric model of worship, and a sacramental understanding of that model (some of the reformational traditions even kept degrees of this). It may not seem immediately relevant, but one (of the many) consequences I think directly relates to this issue as I described above. Should evangelicals consider a return to this practice? Thoughts?

Trevor said...

Also, I wonder what favicon Hapi would use to describe the article :)

aaron said...

Trev,

what's up with spam bloggers for real?

yeah, I didn't hear him leaving the room for legit drug use as a religious experience. . .but I could be wrong.

I agree with communion being the center of Worship absolutely. We'd probably disagree on what that looks like.

Over-emotional worship is a problem not unique to evangelicalism, but we might have some who are the worst offenders around for sure.

In articles/conversations I've been a part of . . . there's been serious talk (not shiesters or Osteen's or hippies. . serious talk) about "experiential worship", which as you said, is part and parcel of the whole deal.

But, in the wrong hands, that concept can turn into a truthless existential waste of time. That's what I "heard" in the article just because I've been in those discussions. Good to hear other perspectives! thanks!

And thanks Kanta and Hapi!!!!

Publican_Chest said...

Interesting article Aaron. Thanks for the link.

It seemed to me the author of this article was suggesting that Christianity is distinguished not by the subjective personal experience people may have, or by an ethical code of conduct (both of which the author notes is found in many other religions and cults), but rather by the objective revelation and message of God to Man. Too often, the author suggests, people want others to become Christians because they will feel better about themselves instead of the fact that Christ lived and died for them.

So whether you get goosebumps through the Eucharist or the last Taylor Swift hit, those feelings or experiences are 1) not the object of Christian worship (God is the object of worship, not our subjective experience) and 2) not the plain on which Christianity competes as a religion. The author seems to suggest then that Christianity is different than everything else precisely because of the message it puts forth, not because of an experience or ethic it produces. Although it does and should produce those things, those things are the result (not the cause) of authentic Christianity. Because as the author notes, practitioners of other religions and drug addicts have great experiences that resemble Christian experience, but Christian experience is different because we are reacting to different news and different truth which is what distinguishes Christians.

When the apostle Paul preached, some were cut to the heart, some laughed, and some picked up stones. The experiential reaction was not important to Paul. The message he preached was central. Paul never said "ok, right now, you should all be feeling something physiologically distinct." Rather, he preached, and said the proper response is to repent and believe. Confession with the mouth and belief in the heart.

So what I heard the author saying was that what is important in Christianity is objective, the good news of the gospel. And what is important in worship is objective, what God is doing, and not what we are feeling.

Unfortunately, the liberal theology of the 18th and 19th century has shot through every Christian tradition, Roman Catholic and Protestant alike. The thesis of liberalism is that the essence of Christianity is a "feeling of absolute divine dependence." The article, in my read, is saying 'no', the essence of Christianity is the message, not our feelings whether religious or otherwise. After all, I don't think Abraham had the tinglies when he marched his firstborn up to the altar. But it was the proper response to God's objective revelation.

Just my take. Thanks again for posting.