The Nature of the Religious Reality Experienced in Epiphanies
A second issue that is no less fundamental than that of veridicality presents itself once it is allowed that at least some epiphanies are truly of or from religious reality: the nature of the religious reality that is experienced in epiphanies. This issue arises because, while epiphanic experiences are recognized and occur in various religious traditions, the phenomenal content of epiphanic experiences varies greatly from tradition to tradition and because there is interreligious disagreement about the nature of religious reality. In this chapter, we consider three ways of understanding the relationship between the religious reality encountered in epiphanic experience and the diverse phenomenal content of those experiences. These approaches avoid both equating the reality with the variegated phenomenal content of those experiences and absorbing the reality of one tradition into that of another. One of them is exclusivistic, deriving from a church teaching that goes back to the fifteenth century. Another is embodied in the pluralistic thesis developed by John Hick. The third way is an approach that looks to relationships with religious reality as they are understood in different traditions. These ways of understanding all take religious reality to be unique and ultimate, but otherwise they are different.