The Place of Our Experiences (A Study of 2 Corinthians 12)
Paul pulls out this experience from FOURTEEN YEARS AGO because he has to defend his apostleship! How important are our experiences? And what do we learn from them?
The psychotherapist Carl Rogers once wrote: “Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas, and none of my own ideas, are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming in me. Neither the Bible nor the prophets — neither Freud nor research — neither the revelations of God nor man — can take precedence over my own direct experience. My experience is not authoritative because it is infallible. It is the basis of authority because it can always be checked in new primary ways. In this way its frequent error or fallibility is always open to correction.” (Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person)
While we may vehemently disagree with Rogers (God’s WORD should have final authority over our experiences), nevertheless our experiences are important. Please notice here in 2 Corinthians 12 that —
I. There are times and occasions when we SHOULD use our experiences.
II. A certain type of humility ought to mark our relating of our experiences. (Paul’s use of the 3rd person).
III. We evaluate our experiences to see what lessons God will teach us (v. 7).
IV. We interpret our experiences in light of eternal persons and values (vv. 7ff). We do not give our experiences final interpretive authority!
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