Does experience count as knowledge?

When traditional evangelicals respond to the charismatic movement, they counter that “experience” can never contradict Scripture.  That’s true, but I think both sides miss something.

(P1) Evangelicals define “experience” as “feeling.”
(P2) If you look at Charismatics’ facial expressions during worship, P1 seems accurate.

Therefore, the initial impression seems correct:

(P3) Experience can never contradict Scripture.

Some reflection, however, reveals a problem with P1.  Numerous everyday situations show that I experience a lot of things, learn from them, yet feelings really aren’t involved.  We must find a better definition:

(P1*) Experience is new knowledge from various situations.

Does this overturn P3?  Certainly not.  At least it is not evident that it does.  We have to have another premise:

(P4) There exists knowledge of which we have cognitive access that is not found in Scripture.

Even the most bible-thumping Clarkian has to affirm P4.  There are numerous discoveries in Science and History which aren’t contained in Scripture yet do not contradict P3.  I think the problem lies elsewhere.

(P5) There exists knowledge of religious matters which aren’t contained in Scripture yet of which we have access.

This can range from anything from words of revelation to exorcisms. Cessationists claim that P5 necessarily contradicts P3, yet they rarely advance arguments demonstrating how.

(P6) The advocate claiming P5 does not claim this knowledge counts as new doctrine of ethics.  This removes the immediate charge of contradiction (P3), if it ever existed.


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s