By Rev Fr William Goh
Set of 5 talks
Talk 1: A Phenomenological Study of the Falling Phenomenon
A religious phenomenon that is widespread in the Charismatic renewal is when people who are prayed over are overcome by the Spirit, resulting in them falling down. This phenomenon is called by different names, such as “slain in the Spirit” or “resting in the Spirit.” The question is whether this unusual phenomenon is of divine origin and is compatible with our faith. Is it really the work of the Holy Spirit? Hence, it is necessary for us to study and examine this falling phenomenon to ascertain its origin, lest we mistake psychological aberrations or mass suggestion for an authentic religious experience. This talk attempts an objective study of the phenomenon and studies the effects of those who are supposedly overcome by the Spirit.
Talk 2: Tradition and Scripture
Is this phenomenon new in the history of spirituality? Can we find this phenomenon in the Scriptures? The fact that it is common in the history of the Protestant revival since the 18th century should cause us to consider whether this “resting in the Spirit” is alien to the Catholic Spiritual Tradition. Most of all, are there biblical precedents of such a phenomenon and grounds for it? This talk studies the history of the phenomenon, both in the Protestants Revival Communions and within the Catholic Church. We also examine scriptural arguments for and against the falling phenomenon.
Talk 3. Objections and a Theological Response
This talk deals with some of the controversial questions surrounding this phenomenon, namely, that it cannot be from God, the danger of emotionalism, autosuggestion and its apparent non-Christian or even demonic origin. On the other hand, there are also theological justifications for this phenomenon too, since this is considered a gift of the Holy Spirit. An understanding of how God works in us and how the divine gifts operate in an anthropological way can help us to appreciate the validity of this phenomenon.
Talk 4: Discernment of the Falling Phenomenon
In the light of the arguments presented, discernment of the spirits is necessary, lest we are duped into errors. The work of discernment however is difficult as it involves a good knowledge of tradition, Scripture and a psychological understanding of the human person. What would be some of the criteria to test the spirits? What fruits should be seen in an authentic resting in the Spirit?
Talk 5: Pastoral Guidelines for Resting in the Spirit
This talk provides some guidelines to help those in the healing ministry. Understanding their role, the value and meaning of resting in the Spirit are prerequisites. This will help ministers to avoid the temptation to egotism and vanity, such as pushing and over concern about people resting. Practical considerations are also given to the place and duration in praying over people; the need for catchers and how to allay the fears of surrendering to the Spirit.