From a conversation with popular evangelical Christian apologist Randall Rauser on his blog:
Gary: What evidence would convince you that Jesus does not dwell within you, Randall?
Rauser: Is that your way of asking what would persuade me that Christianity is false? Well, for example, encountering a very irritated looking Allah after death: that would certainly do it. Various experiences, likely the bones of Jesus discovered in a tomb, perhaps a group of first century letters outlining the means and motive for the resurrection story being a hoax, etc.
Gary: No, I’m not talking about the historical evidence for Christianity. I am asking about your belief that the spirit of the resurrected Jesus dwells within you. What evidence would you need to reject as false your perception that the spirit of Jesus dwells within you? (evidence prior to your death.)
Rauser: Jesus doesn’t literally “dwell within me”. And Rod Stewart’s beloved is not literally in his heart and soul. That’s a spatial metaphor conveying the existence of a relationship.
Gary: As a former evangelical myself, many evangelicals are taught that it is possible to perceive “Christ in you”. It isn’t just intellectual knowledge it is perceptible through the senses. Many evangelicals believe that the spirit of Jesus speaks to them in an non-audible voice. They describe it as a perception of being “moved” or “led” or “directed” to do this or to do that. For some evangelicals, a denial of the perception of “Christ dwelling within you” is a concerning sign as to your status as a true born-again believer.
Randall, do you now or have you ever perceived the presence of Jesus Christ within you?
Rauser: I’ve written a couple of books that offer extended treatments of Christian epistemology: “Theology in Search of Foundations” and “The Swedish Atheist…” You can read about my epistemological views there. Just be sure you don’t confuse a spatial metaphor with literal language. That’s a big mistake.
Gary: Randall, do you now or have you ever perceived the presence of Jesus Christ within you?
Rauser: LOL, trying to have a conversation with you is analogous to a child trying to talk to Dora the Explorer on TV. The child initially thinks there actually is a meaningful back-and-forth conversation, but eventually they realize otherwise.
I’m going to go walk the dog now.
Gary: Dear Readers of Randall Rauser’s blog: This is the exact same reaction I received from evangelical scholar and apologist Michael Licona when I asked him the same question. He too did NOT want to answer this question. He twisted himself into a pretzel to avoid answering it. Why is that?? All Licona and Rauser need to say is:
“I do not believe that anyone can perceive the presence of Jesus’ spirit or that of the Holy Spirit through the senses. The presence of Jesus is not something one experiences but something one believes intellectually.”
Why can’t they say that?
End of post.