Examine Both the Main Characteristics of Both Visions and Conversion Experiences

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Examine the main characteristics of both visions and conversion experiences [30 marks]

Visions and conversions are both a type of religious experience- it’s a subjective experience where an individual reports contact with a supernatural reality, an encounter or union with the divine, Religious experiences are preoccupied by extraordinary psychological state and no one can give real evidence about it.

According to William James, a 20th century philosopher; every religious experience has four characteristics. Ineffability, meaning that these experiences can’t be expressed or it is challenging to express them; people often gain an insight or they learn something from the experience of how to carry on with their life. Transiency,
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An intellectual vision causes the person to become aware of an abstract concept such as the ‘grace of God’- a numinous experience. These are often followed by a sense of inner peace or a call toward religious life.

A conversion experience is one in which the ‘goal’ is to change one set of beliefs. This process is called a double action; this is because one must turn away from a previous lifestyle and turn to a new state of being. The development of conversion can be a sudden experience or a gradual one and the end result is usually a greater understanding of faith. People may convert for several reasons; It may be about years of searching for a spiritual home, or about a moment of inspiration that has caught them by surprise; sometimes it involves the pain of breaking away from a previous path, a sense of loneliness and wrestling with doubt. Some may say that a conversion takes place when one’s identity is perceived to be inadequate and so they move to being in a state when adequacy is met, and the knew life they start is a holy one. There are four main stages identified which can lead to a conversion experience; a prior interest in religious questions and other related issues, the influence of other cases of conversion, a situation which may involve physical and emotional upset, and the moment of conversion which brings about a radical change in feeling and outlook of the persons life. There

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