Wiebe (Philosophy/Trinity Western Univ., Canada) draws on 30 contemporary visionaries and a wide range of scholarship in an...



Wiebe (Philosophy/Trinity Western Univ., Canada) draws on 30 contemporary visionaries and a wide range of scholarship in an attempt to produce a philosophically coherent critique of visions of Jesus. Many people claim to have experienced these visions, so that dismissing all such reports as hoaxes or hallucinations can look like prejudice. But the question remains, what sense are we to make of what the visionaries tell us? Wiebe's answer is that visions of Jesus do not exactly prove anything about the truth of Christianity or even the existence of God, but they are symbolic of a transcendent realm that is as real as that of conventional Western science. Wiebe's approach involves issues of epistemology and philosophy of religion; for example, he uses the thought of Richard Swinburne and Alvin Platinga and looks at various theories of how mind and body interact. Wiebe is also a disciple of William James and Alistair Hardy in his attitude to religious experience. Our author offers as the empirical basis of his study 30 contemporary cases of alleged visions that he has personally investigated. These include not only dreamlike encounters but also experiences shared by groups of people and even recorded on film. Not all of the visionaries were religiously active, but in spite of Wiebe's protestations of heterogeneity, most of them seem to have been influenced by an Evangelical or Pentecostalist setting. An important part of Wiebe's thesis is his controversial belief that these visions are basically the same as, and thus shed light on, those recorded in the New Testament. It is a pity that in a multidisciplinary study of religion Wiebe largely bypasses theology and the nuanced Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions of discerning the authenticity of visions and situating them in the larger context of religious growth and practice.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1997


Page Count: 270

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1997