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Mysticism part 1

December 13, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Just finished reading through the Spring 2008 volume of Conversations. The issue was on Mysticism and Divine Awareness.  Will be making a few posts from the different articles

First very helpful thoughts in understanding what is mysticism from Bruce Demarest in “Mysticism: Peril or Promise?He says that there are 3 types of mysticism but only one can be called Christian.

1. Hard mysticism—“alleges the merging of human nature with the essence of the Absolute or God, in such a way that self-consciousness is lost. (Buddhism, Hinduism etc)

2. Occult mysticism—seek transcendent insights and experiences through mind-altering.” substances and/or esoteric practices. (est, New Age, Psycanics)

These first two are “fundamentally opposed to orthodox Christianity.”

3. Soft mysticism—“seeks deepening relational union with God, not emptiness, fusion, or an ontological union.” Relates to the “believers experience of intimate, relational union with Jesus Christ.” 12

“Soft mysticism calls for the integration of intellect, affections, relationships and service, which Scripture collectively calls “heart.” 16

“Christian disciples are summoned to experience more fully their union with Jesus by surrender of their lives to him and by biblical meditation, prayer and other edifying spiritual practices. The biblical mystic does not withdraw from life in some “rapturous dreamland” (Underhill), nor does he spend his days in a cave ruminating on his own spiritual world. Rather, the biblical mystic joins contemplation of Christ with practical action on behalf of others in the give and take of everyday life. In deep personal relationship with Jesus, disciples discover wisdom for living, words for speaking, and courage for serving God and others.” 17

  1. December 14, 2008 at 8:18 am

    I had not come across these definitions before. They make a nice division. I think all three would come under the purvey of “transpersonal states”; in which we go beyond the human individual and connect with an “other”, whatever that other may be.

    the tools to achieve such states are many (psychedelics, prayer, meditation) but in the end, we get a glimpse of something grander, more inspirational than what we see in everyday waking life.

    I think many people have ‘mystic’ experiences without truly realising what it is they have gone through.

    • December 15, 2008 at 9:12 am

      Thanks for the comment. I am sure a lot of people are seeking a mystic experience today or may have even had one. But, the only one that I would be a proponent of is one in which are faculties are fully engaged in and in which Jesus Christ is the object of our devotion. While other forms may bring a great temporary experience, I see them as going down dangerous paths. I think the experience of others would confirm this.

  2. December 16, 2008 at 7:31 am

    I believe you were in the class when Dr. Kollins said John Wesley’s fear was that he would become so united with God that he would loose ‘himself.’ I can’t remember for sure, but I believe I’ve read some who seemed to feel the same way. That at some point, union with God, God would take over. I’m not sure they would say there was an ontological fusion, but I sense it was a bit more than what Demarest is suggestion under the Christian label. – Peace!

  3. December 16, 2008 at 9:37 am

    I think that has been one of the most difficult things for me to understand–when they start talking about union in that way. I think I am much more comfortable with the idea of union being an attempt to describe the oneness or unity we begin to experience with the Trinity as we grow in Christ. “That they may be one as we are one” Or is this talking about a mystical experience on another level. Teresa seems to be describing something more happens in the 7th mansion.

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