|If you don't respond well to suggestion,|
then you won't have a "Salvation" experience.
And if you don't have a "Salvation" experience,
then no matter what else you do, you won't get into Heaven!
This salvation experience, however, is not considered to be voluntarily attainable, since it is the result of "grace," or the unmerited favor of God. Should an individual seek to join a particular Fundamentalist congregation merely because one is convinced of the truth of Christian teachings, many members would be inclined to doubt that he or she is truly a member of the "elect of God" and, not being able to have such an experience, is probably fore-ordained to burn in Hell regardless of what kind of life one may be leading.
From a scientific point of view, it may be postulated that the degree to which an individual is able to have a salvation experience such as the one described is a function of the degree to which that person is suggestible, and that there is therefore a direct relationship between the ability to be "saved" and the ability to be hypnotized. (Gibbons & DeJarnette, 1972; Gibbons, 1988). After giving a questionnaire to our high and low responders on the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (Shor & Orne, 1962) concerning the nature of their personal religious experiences, we found that there was no significant relationship between hypnotic susceptibility and a previous change in denominational preference, or between susceptibility and the perceived religiousness of one's father. However, the low-susceptible subjects were less likely to perceive their mother as being moderately religious or deeply religious. Compairing high- and low-susceptible "saved" Protestants with high- and low-susceptible "unsaved" Protestants, the "saved" group contained significantly more subjects who were highly susceptible to hypnosis.
In follow-up interviews, the reasons for the differences between high and low-suggestible subjects became glaringly apparent. The high susceptibles said things like, "I began to feel a warm tingling glow inside of me. The next thing I knew, I was down in front of the altar, and I was crying," or, "It was like the Hand of God came down and touched me. I felt so happy. I never felt joy like I felt it that day." But when the few low-susceptibles who indicated that they had been "saved" were asked about their experience, they said things like, "I had been going to that church for about six months, mainly because my girl friend went there, but I never 'went forward.' Then one day the preacher accepted all those who had accepted the Lord to put up our hands, and we both put our hands up and that was it."
Hyperempiria, or suggestion-enhanced experience, also plays a significant role in experiences as varied as falling in love, having an orgasm, coming under the sway of a totalitarian dictator, or exploring an alternate universe.
Gibbons, D. E. (1988) Were you saved or were you hypnotized? The Humanist, pp. 17-19.
Gibbons, D. E. (1987, August). Were you saved or were you hypnotized? Paper presented at the joint conference of the American Humanist Association and the Humanist Association of Canada, Montreal.
Gibbons, D. (1988, June). Hypnotic susceptibility and the salvation experience. Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Professional Hypnosis, Houston, TX.
Gibbons, D. (1988, March). Were you saved or were you saved or were you hypnotized? Paper presented at the meeting of the International Society for Professional Hypnosis, Atlantic City, NJ.
Gibbons, D. E. & De Jarnette, J. (1972). Hypnotic susceptibility and religious experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11(2), pp. 152-156.
Sarbin, T. R. (1998) Believed-in Imaginings. New York: Barnes & Noble.
Shor, R., & Orne, E. C. (1962). The Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting psychologists pres