The Meaning of the Religious Experience, Part 1, 1976 July 23


In this first sermon, Thurman sets out to explore the meaning of religious experience, and the religious experience of Jesus specifically. For Thurman, religious experience is a private and intimate experience, and yet it also seems to involve everything that is. Religious experience is not static, but rather a dynamic experiencing that our minds cannot capture totally. Nevertheless, the mind tries to freeze it into doctrine, dogma, and theology – the language of rationality. But Thurman says religious experience cannot be reduced to the practical and empirical. Ultimately, religious experience is our awareness of the presence of God, and nothing we do gives us control over that presence. For it is God that gives of Godself freely and lovingly.

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