LANGLEY – Phillip Wiebe Ph.D., like many people, was brought up Christian, but rejected the faith as a university student. Gradually, his mind began to change as he met people who claimed to have had encounters with Jesus.
In 1988, the long-time Trinity Western University (TWU) professor of philosophy (and expert on Christian religious experiences as well as the Shroud of Turin) had his own encounter.
According to Wiebe, one morning as he prayed in his office, he felt overwhelmed by a deep feeling of joy, which lasted for several hours.
“I kept asking the Lord, ‘What is this? Why are you so close?'” Wiebe said. “Then a voice came to me: ‘Why don’t you research people who feel they have encountered Me?'” Now, in his second book, Visions and Appearances of Jesus, Wiebe looks at the accounts of people interacting with Jesus throughout time.
Research into this book ranged from New Testament times to the modern day and involved appearances, visions, dreams, and trances.
For insight into modern experiences, he interviewed 30 people who had an encounter with Jesus.
Understanding how God speaks to people was at the core of Wiebe’s work.
“There is a pervasive human hunger to know the truth about the unseen world,” said Wiebe. “People can ignore it for 30, 40, 50 years, but if it’s been awakened at all in childhood, it will come back at some time.”
“Religious experience can penetrate the larger world,” Wiebe said. “That shows us that there really is another world, another order of reality. It’s a very curious and strange order of reality, to which God, including the resurrected Christ, belongs. These encounters are predominantly oneon-one and highly personal.”
It was his first book, Visions of Jesus, that positioned Wiebe as an expert on Christian religious experiences. He has also studied the Shroud of Turin, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Christ.