Question & Answer – What is an experimental religion?

Having a personal experience:

“There is an element in the church at ______ that is detrimental to its spiritual interests. There is a great want of vital godliness, of experimental religion. I call no names. Let each search his own heart and understand his own imperfections. There are some who are ever leaning toward the world, ever lowering the standard of religion by their worldly conversation. They have not the love of God in their hearts. They are weak-handed when real help is needed in the church. This spiritual weakness is the result of their own unwillingness to bear burdens when and where they can help the most. When, however, there is any plan or device of their own to carry out, they are willing to assume any responsibility; to have their own way is their purpose. If that were a sanctified way, it would not be so bad; but it is not.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 114.

“Experience is knowledge derived from experiment. Experimental religion is what is needed now. … Some—yes, a large number—have a theoretical knowledge of religious truth, but have never felt the renewing power of divine grace upon their own hearts. … They believe in the wrath of God, but put forth no earnest efforts to escape it. They believe in heaven, but make no sacrifice to obtain it. … They know a remedy for sin, but do not use it. They know the right, but have no relish for it. All their knowledge will but increase their condemnation. They have never tasted and learned by experience that the Lord is good.

“To become a disciple of Christ is to deny self and follow Jesus through evil as well as good report. … Every darling indulgence that hinders our religious life must be cut off. … Will we put forth efforts and make sacrifices proportionate to the worth of the object to be attained?

“Every association we form, however limited, exerts some influence upon us. The extent to which we yield to that influence will be determined by the degree of intimacy, the constancy of the intercourse, and our love and veneration for the one with whom we associate. Thus by acquaintance and association with Christ we may become like Him, the one faultless Example.” Maranatha, 74.

Note: Although Sister White used the word “experimental,” we would more commonly use the word “experiential” today. Since Sister White’s time, “experimental” has acquired a connotation that implies untested or not yet settled or finalized.