According to a new study, researchers have highlighted certain attributes that lead individuals, such as modern day prophets, to claim that they heard the voice of God.
The study, titled “Sensing the presence of gods and spirits across cultures and faiths,” examined over 2,000 participants from multiple religions in the United States, Ghana, Thailand, China and Vanuatu across four separate studies.
“Hearing the voice of God, feeling the presence of the dead, being possessed by a demonic spirit—such events are among the most remarkable human sensory experiences. They change lives and in turn shape history,” the researchers wrote.
“We argue that experiences of spiritual presence are facilitated by cultural models that represent the mind as ‘porous,’ or permeable to the world, and by an immersive orientation toward inner life that allows a person to become ‘absorbed’ in experiences,” they continued.
According to lead researcher Tanya Luhrmann, Stanford University anthropologist, and her team, porosity alludes to ideas about how people can perceive thoughts, emotions, or knowledge directly from outside sources including divine inspiration, divination, telepathy, or clairvoyance.
Porosity can also refer to the notion that feelings and thoughts can potentially impact the world, particularly through witchcraft, healing energy, or shamanic powers.
The study cites the term absorption as “an individual’s personal tendency to be engrossed in sensory or imagined events.”
“People with a greater capacity for absorption tend to ‘lose themselves’ in their sensory experiences and are capable of conjuring vivid imagined events. For example, they might get so caught up in music that they do not notice anything else, or they might feel that they experience the world the way they did as a child,” the researchers explained. “In the psychological literature, absorption is commonly considered to be a personality trait, although it may be sensitive to experience or training.”
The researchers also noted absorption among congregants of American Charismatic churches, who reported on “more vivid experiences (e.g., that they experienced God in dialogue or heard God’s voice audibly) tended to score higher on measures of absorption.”
They argued that both porosity and absorption played “distinct roles in determining which people, in which cultural settings, were most likely to report vivid sensory experiences of what they took to be gods and spirits.”
Evangelical leaders in the U.S had recently come under intense scrutiny after falsely prophesying that Trump would win the 2020 election, including prophet Jeremiah Johnson, who received death threats for his failed prophecy for Trump.
Pastor Kris Vallotton of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, posted a public apology the Saturday after the election for saying that Trump would win. The video, which was initially taken down, was later reposted a few weeks ago after the electoral college confirmed that Joe Biden would become the next president.
Christian Broadcasting Network’s Pat Robertson asserted that God told him Trump would win re-election. When Trump contested the results, Robertson argued that God would ultimately intervene and give Trump victory.
Robertson, despite his prior claims, would then urge the former president to move on and that he should not run again in 2024.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Ivan Vislov
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer and content creator. He is a contributing writer for Christian Headlines and the host of the For Your Soul Podcast, a podcast devoted to sound doctrine and biblical truth. He holds a Masters of Divinity from Alliance Theological Seminary.