Feelings as a Result of the Indwelling of the Holy Spirit

When I was a Christian I was convinced that I was getting emotional responses as a result of my 'indwelling spirit'. Eventually, through honest introspection, a lot of it done while praying, I reasoned that it was all natural. In fact, I would say that I probably spent too much time thinking about things during prayer which eventually led to "god" telling me that he was really a Euphemism for Luck. But this morning I got one of those feelings again while listening to a podcast and it reminded me of all those times I got them as a Christian....

This morning I was listening to a Science Magazine podcast and they expressed condolences to the family and friends one of the lead authors on the paper they were doing the story about. He died before it was published. I felt an instant of sadness, like a tingling or shock and misty eyes. I remembered the last time that happened was when I was reading about the WWF wrestler (Benoit) that is the subject of a murder suicide investigation. And before that the Virginia Tech tragedy. Then I remember how misty I got watching the Movie "United 93" and had to wipe the tears off my cheeks. I get misty eyed when I see information about tragedies and instances of sadness that I would describe as feelings of electric shocks. It happens out of happiness when I see acts of heroism on the news. It continues to this day. Sometimes, in other situations, it was not sadness but a feeling like my hair was standing on end. In fact, It just happened to me as I was writing this because I concentrated on it and it happened. It happened to me the first few times I published articles on this blog and was waiting for the fall out. Did any of you ever get yourself "Psyched up" for a game or track meet in High School or College? Remember how it felt? I am convinced, as you should be, that it is not the indwelling of the spirit. It is apparently a biological response to some hardwired morality/altruism/excitement that I have built in. Even former contributor DagoodS has those moments. He details one here on his blog.

So, Christians, what is it that convinces you of your spirit indwelling?

22 comments:

EI said...

But this morning I got one of those feelings again while listening to a podcast and it reminded me of all those times I got them as a Christian....

This is interesting and it can only be a "confirmation of the holy spirit." Just last night while I was walking on the treadmill I was thinking about this very thing.

How often it was that in the midst of prayer, praise and dwelling on the word of God I would get goosebumps or chills or emotional highs. I interpreted this as the holy spirit coming down and resting upon me - what else could it be?

I was mainly thinking about things in terms of experience. There is no doubt that something was going on but its the conclusions that get us into trouble. Suppose its close to Christmas and there have been a rash of break-ins in the neighborhood. Presents have been stolen out from under peoples trees. During the night I wake up because of a noise. I silently go down the hall to the living room. There before me is a fat man in a red suit. At first I think it must be the robber but I see him putting presents down instead of taking them. Something is not right here. I got back to my room and get my gun - have to be armed in these instances. When I come back he is gone. Later I wake up - was it a dream? Is Santa real? Was I hallucinating the whole thing?

There is no denying that there was some experience going on be it none or one of the above. While an answer may never come forward it doesn't mean the experience wasn't real in some way.

That is how I interpret "holy spirit moments" today - there is some experience going on but is it God? Perhaps a few hundred years ago when our knowledge of the brain was scant this argument may have been as good as any other. Today, however, this is not the case. We have all kinds of evidence to suggest that all of these are brain related experiences. These spiritual experiences can be recreated by stimulating parts of the brain.

There is more evidence today than ever before that its "all in our heads."

Christian Beyer said...

Thank God everything's not "all in my head" - how limiting. But perhaps your craniums are that much larger, to be able to encompass it "all". What headaches you must get, under all that pressure.

"Spirit indwelling?" That's a Christian cliche', religious jargon. I know that you are looking for a spiritural consensus here but it is unlikely to happen. The spirit of God cannot be winnowed down to a thread that we can place under a glass slide and examine cooly and intellectually. The church tries to do this all the time and mostly only succeeds in confusing those who take them too seriously -such as yourselves.

No one who has experienced God can explain God satisfactorally. Just as an adolescent boy cannot understand the love that a father has for his daughter, not until he someday has his own child, you cannot understand what a relationship with God is like until you experience it. And just as that father cannot 'explain' this love to the young boy, we could never sufficiently explain this relationship to you. That is why (I believe) so much 'evangelizing' is wasted effort.

Realizing God is not the result of exposition, but of relation.

Jennifer said...

Lee,

Galatians 5:21-23 NASV
"... envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

It's not about feelings while praying. What more can be said?

Jennifer said...

Oops..I forgot to add that I also agree with Christian!

EI said...

You know, I was going to mention something else but forgot.

But this morning I got one of those feelings again while listening to a podcast and it reminded me of all those times I got them as a Christian....

I have had many such experiences since becoming an atheist. For some reason the holy spirit still visits me. The other night I sat on my deck and just soaked in the sounds of the evening. I could remember when I was a kid looking up at the stars and speaking to God about his many lights of the sky. I revisited that experience of "personal relation." I listened to some Christian music that I used to worship to - sure enough, same experience. I have since listened to other music and meditated upon other things and found that the holy spirit visits me during those times as well. But then again, maybe its the devil? How does one know?

While Lee's blog is titled "Feelings as a result of the Indwelling..." you will note that my comments spoke of experiences. I take this as a broader term to point to each persons objective relationship to "what is." I did not deny that people are experiencing something and in that sense the notion of "religious experience" is objective. The question is "Where is the relationship of experience taking place?" Is the relationship a personal deity seeking to make contact or is it the result of processes in the brain? For me, until someone can demonstrate a valid way to conceptualize "god" then it seems the evidence suggest the latter.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Christian,
all of the contributors, including me, are ex-christians, apostates, etc. For more on this see the top of the page under the words "debunking christianity".

you cannot understand what a relationship with God is like until you experience it. And just as that father cannot 'explain' this love to the young boy, we could never sufficiently explain this relationship to you.
So when you say this you are not considering that we have been there and done that. Whats with the cranium crack? If you infer that we are smarter or we think we are smarter, thats all on you. My experience led me to believe it was all just chance and luck, and when I had that revelation, the rest of my christian experience reinforced it to the point that I 'fell out'.

Anyway, this analogy of love between people is not relevant to love between people and god because the people exist in the natural world, and the evidence of their love is visible and you live it day to day. With god that is not the case, you can't see it day to day and and it is not visible. And you cut god more slack that you would your kid, or spouse or 'significant other'. You have to because as you said you can comprehend it etc, and it does what it wants, makes up its own rules because it is apparently capricious with universal consequences. Doesn't save children with cancer etc. even when he can etc.

the following is off topic but you are welcome to pursue it here if you want. I am going to do an article on it so I won't address it here.

Just imagine you saw that your spouse or child or parent, had the ability to save a puppy from certain death with little effort and no risk and didn't. How would you feel about them? How would that affect your love for them, your trust for them?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer,
That list of spirit fruit is not what this article is about but I'm glad you brought it up. That list extends to the other 70% of the non-christian world as well. So it doesn't support your case very well.

It's not about feelings while praying. What more can be said?
and neither is the article.

This post was intended to be a rebuttal to the evidence of Indwelling of the spirit through emotional feedback in the person. Maybe you and Christian have come to a happy place where you latch onto your favorite bits of the bible and discard the rest, but if the bible is divinely inspired, then doing that is spiritually and intellectually dishonest or ignorant, because with the stipulation that god exists, it should validate itself. Since you think that god exists and you don't apparently think everything in the bible is useful for instruction then I see your position as inconsistent.

Hi Christian,
that goes for you too. Why don't you just call yourself a deist? You seem to be where I was a couple of years ago. I was sure the bible was wrong, but not sure if jesus lived or if there was a god or if that god really did what it was supposed to have done since I couldn't trust the bible. If you don't trust the bible or the church which was supposedly sanctioned by god, you don't really know anything about god do you?

At the point that you are at, any old god will do, but I suppose you have cultural influences that compel you to think it prudent to invest in 'fire insurance'.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi El,
thanks for expanding the dialogue to include experiences. I guess the article could just as well have used the word 'experiences' instead of 'feelings'.

Christopher M. Jourdain said...

Christian you say:

"No one who has experienced God can explain God satisfactorally. Just as an adolescent boy cannot understand the love that a father has for his daughter, not until he someday has his own child, you cannot understand what a relationship with God is like until you experience it. And just as that father cannot 'explain' this love to the young boy, we could never sufficiently explain this relationship to you. That is why (I believe) so much 'evangelizing' is wasted effort."

Your analogy is flawed because the father doesn't believe the daughter exists because of his love.

And also the inexplicableness of what it is like to have a particular experience is no argument against discussing its significance or what we are to infer from the experience.

For example if I say "I'm hungry" I don't have to try to explain my hunger pangs in order for people to know I want food. You can explain stuff with descriptively irreducible concepts. You haven't given a good argument that no irreducibly descriptive concepts that refer back to simpler experiences can shed light on a religious experience.

Jennifer said...

Lee,
What parts of the Bible that are instructing did I say I don't accept as instruction?

Who do you know who has all of the fruit of the Spirit? If 70% of the world had it; I think the world would be a different place.

The point that Christian and I are making...or at least I think Christian is saying this...is that knowing God is a combination of knowledge and experience. They cannot be separated. In order to know God one must experience Him.

If you really wanted to know for yourself you wouldn't be asking us, you'd be asking God...not on a blog, but on a quest to find Him, and it would change your life. I hope that doesn't insult you because I know you are a very intelligent man, but I hope you can experience God for yourself.

Take care, Lee.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Jennifer,
What parts of the Bible that are instructing did I say I don't accept as instruction?
you said in a previous comment
Oops..I forgot to add that I also agree with Christian!
after christian said
The church tries to do this all the time and mostly only succeeds in confusing those who take them too seriously -such as yourselves.
which is rather disparaging to the church.
But the gathering together of christians is mandated or endorsed in the new testament, and supposedly the Holy Spirit will dwell there. I guess you were just agreeing with his father/son analogy? If so, sorry, my mistake.

I didn't say anyone has all of the fruit of the Spirit I said it extends to the rest of the 70% of the world.

Would you deny that there are buddhists, jews, muslims, atheists, etc that do exhibit all the fruits of the spirit? Would you deny that most christians don't exhibit all the fruits of the spirit? Would you deny that some of all types of people exhibit the fruits of the spirit? And if you do, have you gotten a large enough sample to be statistically representative? I haven't but I can tell you that I have seen some really messed up raging christians, one of them a preacher in the middle of a service. I was visiting the church to see if I wanted to start going there and a dog was barking outside disrupting the service. After the preacher had had enough he yelled out "would someone go out there and shoot that dog!". Needless to say, being the animal lover I am, I didn't go back. In another case It was pretty ironic to see a christian going into a rage over something small at work wearing a tee-shirt with bible scripture on it. Being a concerned type of individual I pointed out to him that he should calm down because he should have the peace that passes understanding indwelling. He stopped raging, but he was still glaring. I think that was self-control that comes from embarrassment rather than any spirity type of thing.

If you want to tell me or anyone for that matter that they don't exhibit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, self-control, I think you will offend them. I know you'd offend me. These are so basic that it is silly to say they are supernaturally generated.

You take care too.

Jennifer said...

Lee,

This is where I agree with Christian, as well as the parental analogy:

The spirit of God cannot be winnowed down to a thread that we can place under a glass slide and examine cooly and intellectually.

I also agree with you that a person raging is NOT indwelled by the Holy Spirit. What Christian was saying, about the church as a whole getting it wrong, (correct me if I'm wrong!) is that being indwelled means meeting, knowing and "walking" with God in a relational way. It's not about head knowlege, although that is part of knowing someone.

The list Galatians gives is complete and I do believe it means all at once. It's a very focused life that can experience God living within and I don't always live that life, but when I do; there is nothing that compares to the richness of God within.

Anyway...I agree that everyone can exhibit the list of the fruit of the Spirit, but I think the difference is that when a person is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, those things become automatic. I believe He programmed us to be all of those things and it is because we go against that original design in pursuit of an independent life from God that there is such turmoil in life.

A case in point would be here. I get the feeling that Christians are tolerated but none of you are trying to persuade us out of love. You may think that you are trying to help us see a better way but so far it doesn't seem any better. Christians are just as guilty in many circles but it shouldn't be that way. Being a Christian doesn't mean a person is spineless, but it does mean that we should do nothing from selfish ambition. I just finished a book called "Bruchko" that is a wonderful example of how a Christian should behave...not out of obligation but because we should be "delightfully compelled", to use a phrase coined by some friends, to share what we experience and know of God and to live it out in the way of love; not self-righteousness.


I didn't understand the Bible until I knew God from experience and I can't convey how to do that for anyone else. It's a matter of finding God and He can be found.

Last..I would not endeavor to study experiencing God just as I think the idea of writing a book analyzing emotions such as "The Origin of Emotions" by Mark Devon, because it takes the wonder out of relationship. I would not endeavor to study my spouse beyond what is reasonable to understand about what makes him happy etc...
There can be a wonder to life that is extinguished by too much analysis.

There is too much to try and communicate through typing. I imagine if God had communicated everything we needed to know; that information would fill a few libraries.
Even then we probably wouldn't get it.

Lee Randolph said...

HI Jennifer,
thanks for the thoughtful reply.
I wish you'd spend a week researching the holy spirit like I did. Not that it would change your mind, but it would expose you to the huge range of claims and rebuttals between christians about what it is and isn't.

I would not endeavor to study my spouse beyond what is reasonable to understand about what makes him happy etc...
There can be a wonder to life that is extinguished by too much analysis.

And unlike you, I think knowing how things work makes the world a richer place and knowing my wife as well as I can helps me to better enrich her life. For example, she gets paninc attacks so I researched everything I could about them to understand them and deal with them. I watch her and have to come to know when she drifting into one or close to one. In the old days I would have just prayed about it and gave it to god. I think we would both agree that it is more useful to get busy reading than waiting around for god. And by eliminating prayer it gave me more time to learn.

Steven Carr said...

'Sometimes, in other situations, it was not sadness but a feeling like my hair was standing on end.'

That is not the witness of the Holy Spirit.

Just ask Craig and Plantinga.

The inner witness of the Holy Spirit is a belief in the Great Things of the Gospel, and a belief that the Book of Obadiah was inspired by God (and the other 65 books as well, of course)

After your hair stood up on end, did you know that Obadiah was an inspired book?

The witness of the Holy Spirit is not just a feeling (no matter how many Christians tell me that to them it is just a feeling).

The Holy Spirit imparts beliefs, not feelings.

Just ask Plantinga.

Jennifer said...

OK Lee,
I agree with you about living in practical ways too, but my point was that to analyze too much is missing the forest for the trees.

I also agree that there are many claims that conflict about the Holy Spirit and, sadly, I don't think that will change because people want to get a handle and have the right answers. There is no formula for the Holy Spirit's activity in the world, but a person who claims to be indwelled by the Holy Spirit and is consistently exhibiting behavior at odds with the list in Galatians, cannot be credible.

I'm done. :)

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jennifer,
ok, as usual it was pleasure to talk to you!
See on another topic!
:-)
take care!

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Steven carr,
The witness of the Holy Spirit is not just a feeling (no matter how many Christians tell me that to them it is just a feeling).

Why are you so sure you are right and the others are wrong. Isn't that just a tad bit arrogant?

This illustrates my point. There is no phenomena of the Holy Spirit, if there were you should all agree.

Jason said...

On what grounds are you claiming the Holy Spirit should make everyone agree?

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Jason,
Where have you been? I replied to you in the first 'holy spirit' article at 10:54 PM, July 15, 2007 and you didn't reply. Its not like you to avoid a rebuttal. Are you feeling okay?
;-)

I didn't say "make". They should choose to agree because they should all be getting the same guidance from the omni-present,potent,scient etc one and only god of which they wouldn't think of disobeying, okay maybe that was an exaggeration, but at least they profess that they wouldn't think of disobeying because it would make them look stupid if they did.

and heres my grounds from this article in which I laid out my argument
P1a. The Holy Spirit is God
P1b. God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.
P2. The Holy Spirit informs the Unbeliever as to the truth of Jesus when being told about it.
P3a. The Holy Spirit is in every Christian
P3b. Every Christian Accepts Christ
P3c. Every Christian should be favorable to Holy Spirit Influence.
P4. The Holy Spirit helped write the scripture
P5. The Holy Spirit helps interpret the scripture
P6. The Holy Spirit gives understanding (informs).

Of which I am sure you will disagree because different denominations can't agree on all of this anyway. In fact you did challenge my premises but I provided a link showing you that I wasn't making it up, people actually believe that stuff. Isn't it weird? It seems you and I may have common ground after all. However the disagreement between christians illustrates my point.

richdurrant said...

Actually I have to disagree that because all Christians don't agree about the Holy Spirit proves that there is no Holy Spirit.
I think it's good to find common ground;)

John W. Loftus said...

Rich, who's talking about proof here? But the overwhelming evidence is on Lee's side, not yours.

richdurrant said...

Actually John Lee was making a conclusion that because all the denominations don't agree that the shows the HG doesn't exist. That is what I am disagreeing with. Sure there are many different teachings and all claim that they receive HG guidance. All that really shows is that people disagree, it doesn't conclude that the Holy Ghost doesn't exist. That is my point
That Lee has the evidence of disagreement between Christians on his side is indisputable. The conclusion drawn from that evidence is my disagreement.