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Mystical EEs/EHEs
Record Type: Review   ID: 826

Human Experience of God

Edwards, Denis

 A theologian seeks to encourage mystical experience from within Catholic theology, in contradistinction to the standard dogmatic theology. He draws on the work of Karl Rahner. Traditionally, he says, Catholic Christianity recognizes that humans can obtain knowledge of God by reason and by faith. Edwards points the way to a third possibility: experience. However, he does not consider such experience to be direct: it is mediated by worldly objects. He feels that people must be taught how to interpret the signs of God's presence in order to recognize it. He also realizes that religious experience is shaped and heightened by belonging to a religious community. Examples are given of exceptional experiences of grace that, due to ignorance, were not even connected to Christian faith in the mind of the experiencers. Edwards discusses various contexts or trigger situations that are often asssociated with experiences of grace, such as childbirth, creativity, forgiveness, scenes of natural beauty, death. He points out: "We can have an immediate sense of God's presence, but this occurs in and through the mediation of an ordinary human event and depends upon the further mediation of our own interpreting consciousness" (p. 67). (This also applies to EHEs.) Edwards devotes a chapter to how the experience of God related to history and society and another to how it "opens out into contemplative prayer" (p. 67). A chapter follows on theological approaches to finding God's will. A chapter on "Visions, Voices and Tongues" is about "extraordinary" prayer experiences and deals with how one should respond to them. The final chapter is on how experience of God relates to the growth of faith. He lists 18 characteristics of the experience of God.
Publisher Information:New York: Paulist Press, 1983. 154p. Chap. notes: 136-154
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