DID YOU KNOW?

This week’s Did You Know, is excerpted from a South Bend History professor’s latest book, “Changed by Grace:” When it comes to the subject of Soul Changes, Complete Psychic Changes, Spiritual Awakenings and “Spiritual Experiences,” the book Alcoholics Anonymous issued a strong warning in its Appendix II, that most of them are a matter of a series of “Educational Experiences” extending over a period of time:

 

Though it was not our intention to create such an impression, many alcoholics have nevertheless concluded that in order to recover they must acquire an immediate and overwhelming “God Consciousness” followed at once by a vast change in feeling and outlook…

Among our rapidly growing membership, such transformations, though frequent, are by no means the rule. Most spiritual experiences develop slowly over a period of time. Quite often friends of the newcomer are aware of a difference in their attitudes long before them. They eventually realize that they have undergone a profound alteration in their reaction to life and that such a change could hardly have been brought about by themselves alone. What often takes place in a few months could seldom have been accomplished by years of self-discipline or therapy…

It is important to note however, that there ought to be noticeable changes in behavior patterns within a few months after entering the twelve-step program. There are some people (not many), who have been attending twelve-step meetings for twenty or more years who thump on their Big Books or some other book, and can quote thousands of passages and know all the history of every passage in that volume, but who totally fail the real test. They still spend a good deal of their time attacking other group members, are continually filled with anger, and are using underhanded methods and political maneuvering and verbal bullying on anyone who disagrees with them while they try to get their way in every little thing. St. Augustine, in his City of God, pointed out that the two most common ways of expressing out-of-control egoism and false-pride were the desire for the gloria mundi (becoming the center of everyone’s attention and praise) and the libido dominandi (the lust for dominating and controlling everyone else). But any genuine soul change will of necessity produce behavioral changes which are real, external, and objectively verifiable. So in particular, continual explosions of temper at other people demonstrate that there has in fact been no actual change down in the lower levels of the soul, no matter how piously we may talk.

Jonathan Edwards first discovered the necessity of doing this external reality check, and John Wesley was equally aware of it. People, who claim to have had a soul change when there has been little external behavioral change, are still worshiping an imaginary God of their subjective emotions, the fake God, which the skeptics of the eighteenth century Enlightenment warned about. The skeptics and atheists of that long ago era claimed that all spirituality was an exercise in self-deception of this sort, and that no real God actually existed. The early evangelical movement said that the worship of an imaginary God was a trap which religious people could easily fall into (and which many self-proclaimed religious people had in fact fallen into). But they also pointed to the observed fact that some people were able to change and develop loving, tolerant, forgiving behavior toward all by calling upon the power of God’s grace, which provided objective proof that the inner soul change was not a subjective illusion. Modern scientific method tells us to assemble objective data and make an empirical check on all our theories. To be continued…

The Waynedale News Staff

The Waynedale News Staff

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