Saturday, January 1, 2011

visions of jesus

After my last post on why believe?, I remembered some other interesting stories I had read. People from non-christian backgrounds, mostly Muslim, having visions of Jesus which led to their conversion.

So I did a bit of searching, and came up with these:

  • This website tells the stories, dramatised in videos, of 5 Muslims in 5 different countries who saw Jesus in a vision or a dream, which led to them choosing to follow Jesus, or Isa, as he is called in the Koran;
  • Don Richardson is a Canadian christian who has researched world missions. In his book Eternity in their hearts he tells many stories of people believing in Jesus because of dreams, visions and other experiences. For example, a man in an Ethiopian tribe saw a vision of two men coming to his village to tell them about God. Years later, missionaries came to his tribe, the Ethiopian man listened, believed, and is now one of thousands of christians from his tribe.
  • A Sikh woman and her husband read their scriptures and prayed very day. One night while she was praying, she had a vision of Jesus. This led to her conversion, and after some study and questioning, her husband also.
  • A Muslim teenager who God spoke to in a dream, and who subsequently saw a vision of Jesus, chose to follow Jesus as a result. On the same site are many other similar stories, including this one of a number of Filipino Muslims who saw visions of Jesus after fasting and prayer during Ramadan.
  • More stories of Muslims seeing visions of Jesus and choosing to follow him as a result - this time a documentary on video.

Of course it is impossible for us to know the truth or otherwise of these stories, and some websites don't necessarily give you confidence. But then I discovered the book Visions of Jesus (published by Oxford University Press, so it must have some credibility). In it Prof Phillip Wiebe reports on his interviews with 30 people who had visions of Jesus, then analyses the possible natural (psychological and neurophysiological) and supernatural explanations for these experiences.

Wiebe believes that "Christic visions are evidentially more common than is ordinarily believed". He concludes that these contemporary visions of Jesus may well represent genuine religious experiences of a mystical character, and suggests they merit further study and analysis.

It seems there is enough evidence here to refute the oft-made claim that "there's no evidence for God". Those who really want to know whether there is evidence for God in people's experiences have information to consider.

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