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The Experience of GodA Postmodern Response$
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Kevin Hart and Barbara Wall

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780823225187

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823225187.001.0001

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Faith and the Conditions of Possibility of Experience

Faith and the Conditions of Possibility of Experience

Response to Kevin Hart

(p.87) 6 Faith and the Conditions of Possibility of Experience
The Experience of God

James K. A. Smith

Fordham University Press

According to Kevin Hart, “that God can be experienced is to have assumed that the divine offers itself as a phenomenon, and this runs counter to everything you know about the proper usage of the word God”. That observation itself, however, assumes something about both the nature of “experience”, what constitutes a “phenomenon”, as well as the nature of God and God's “donation”. There is a correlation between experience and phenomenon: only a phenomenon can be experienced, and experience can only be experience of a phenomenon in a strict sense. So any “encounter” with something (or someone) that cannot — or will not — be subjected to the conditions of phenomenality cannot be “experienced” in a strict sense. But this does not mean that it cannot be encountered, or that it cannot encounter us; we will just have to find a different name for that “event” — a “counterexperience”. Faith is understood as the medium of this counterexperience that is not an experience and becomes the condition of possibility for the revelation of God.

Keywords:   God, experience, Kevin Hart, counterexperience, faith, revelation, phenomenon, phenomenality

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