Carl W. Conrad cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu
Thu Oct 4 16:53:27 EDT 2001

At 10:09 PM +0200 10/4/01, Iver Larsen wrote:
>Thank you for your excellent comments and further background.
>I only want to comment briefly on one aspect you brought up, so I have
>deleted the rest:

I'm going to respond very briefly here to the most important points for the
reason that every one of these very interesting questions lies outside the
proper scope of B-Greek discussion and in the realm of personal experience
or faith or historical understanding. None of these matters belongs
properly to on-list discussion.

>> I find somewhat problematic the claim here that "the Holy Spirit is a
>> gentle voice--it never carries me away against my will." It's the "NEVER"
>> that disturbs me: I think Jeremiah might have questioned this proposition
>> and I rather think that Paul too might claim that his experience of the
>> Holy Spirit has on occasion been coercive. Whether or not one
>> might feel in
>> retrospect that one has been guided toward one's authentic selfhood by the
>> experience, the experience itself may be wrenching and something
>> other than gentle.
>I did not intend to say that all the activities of the Holy Spirit are
>gentle. Nor did I intend to say that such activities could not overrule my
>will and intentions. I was thinking of how I and others that I know receive
>prophetic inspiration. That has always been a still, small voice as Elijah
>experienced it. It can result in quite a bit of shaking, heart beat and
>agitation, but that is a human response.

I'm willing to chime in on that with respect to my own personal experience;
but I suspect that the range of experience of those we might be willing to
term authentic prophets may include elements other than a still, small
voice. I think there is more mystery to the phenomena involved here than we
can readily define. I do think that Jeremiah's experience was authentic and
that it was an experience of violent wrenching of his natural personal
inclinations, of such powerful overwhelming of his will as to crush his
spirit, at least temporarily.

>Are you thinking of any particular experiences of Paul? In the initial
>Damascus road experience the Spirit obviously had to overrule the will and
>intentions of Paul, but it was still done in a fairly gentle way through
>questions rather than condemnation.

That's one item, but that's in Acts, and I'm not so confident that we have
a very adequate account of what actually happened in that instance. But I'm
thinking also of allusions to personal experience in Paul's letters that
are open to complex levels of interpretation.

>> Nor am I quite so confident that the difference between pagan spiritual
>> frenzy and true prophetic inspiration is all that clear-cut. Saul was told
>> by Samuel that he would meet a band of prophets and "become another man"
>> and would prophesy, and afterwards there was the saying, "Is Saul also
>> among the prophets?"--which may have meant that people thought he was at
>> least a little bit looney. And it seems to me that Paul's whole discussion
>> of GLWSSOLALIA is at least partly a matter of whether non-believers
>> observing believers engaging in the practice might wonder whether the
>> believers are "a little bit looney."
>I am hesitant to apply prophetic experiences in the OT as standards for NT
>prophecy. The case of Saul is atypical and I don't think it fits with NT
>prophecy or anyone's experience of prophecy today.

Part of what I'm saying here is that I'm not so sure that the experience of
prophecy in any era can be described in "typical" terms. What is evident
from the layers of historical tradition incorporated in 1 Samuel is that
Saul's leadership was linked both to a positive view of the working of the
spirit in him and to a negative (probably pro-David) view of him as
mentally unstable.

>Yes, the misuse of glossolalia can easily make outsiders think that those
>people are more or less looney. That is one major reason why it is a misuse
>and Paul says that it should not take place.
>There are different types of glossolalia. Some types involve prophetic
>inspiration, and some do not, but discussing this would take us too far away
>from b-greek.

Yes it would, and it would be difficult to achieve a consensus on many of
these issues about which so many have very strong views--which is precisely
the reason why they lie outside the boundaries of discussion in this forum.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Emeritus)
Most months: 1647 Grindstaff Road/Burnsville, NC 28714/(828) 675-4243
cwconrad at artsci.wustl.edu OR cwconrad at ioa.com
WWW: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~cwconrad/

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