Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae
On-line version ISSN 2412-4265
VAN AARDE, Andries. Little faith as an alternating state of religious consciousness: A pragmatic-empirical perspective on Matthew's portrayal of Jesus' disciples. Studia Hist. Ecc. [online]. 2013, vol.39, suppl.1, pp. 187-212. ISSN 2412-4265.
This article argues that "fear" can be understood as an alternate state of religious consciousness. The aim is to demonstrate that fear is central to the state of being of Jesus' disciples when their religious experience is characterised as "little faith" in the Gospel of Matthew. The nature of religious experience is explained by means of William James's understanding of critical-empirical epistemology. A general overview is given of what alternating states of consciousness are. From the perspective of a radical-empirical approach to experienced reality, a distinction is made between an alternation in a state of consciousness and an alternation in phenomenal property. This insight is applied to that passage in the Gospel of Matthew where the implications of fear for the experiences of the disciples can be observed most clearly, namely Mt 13:53-17:27. In this passage their state of being is described as "little faith", and it is suggested that the integrity of their message would not be accepted unless they overcome their fear. Transcendence of fear implies an alternation in phenomenal property. The article concludes with an illustration that "little faith", which is "fear", can be the psychological consequence of political hegemony on religious experience, both in antiquity and today.