From: Rich Blinne (email@example.com)
Date: Tue Feb 18 2003 - 12:43:05 EST
John Burgeson wrote:
> We've been studying Mysticism in the history class I'm auditing at
> Iliff. Today the following notice came in my e-mail. It looks
> Mysticism is, of course, a vital part of Christianity. Although
> probably some folks are afraid if it.
The problem is in the details of what constitutes mysticisim. A simple
definition would be mysticism is the antonym of Logical Positivism.
That is, mysticism posits non-material reality. It also posits the
immanence of God. So, Christianity can properly be called mystical in
the sense that it affirms both of the above. In addition to this,
however, Christianity also posits the trancendance of God. Without
transcendance, Mysticism becomes pantheistic and ceases to be Christian
Another angle to look at mysticism is how it deals with the
subject/object problem. As scientists, we are -- shall we say --
obsesssed with the "objective truth". How the objective becomes
subjective reality is not of much concern. In fact, the skeptical
debunkers will generally attack mystics of any stripes whether Christian
or New Age, etc. Christian mystics occupy the middle ground between
everything is objective of modernism and everything is subjective of
post-modernism. Since as Augustine said "all truth is God's truth",
Christian mystics see a harmony between the two. Where Christians have
lost their moorings is when they go towards one rail or another.
Most likely you have studied in your class the Society of Friends. Some
of the followers of George Fox came up with some pretty crazy beliefs
and others didn't. The difference was whether the mystical beliefs were
checked against Scripture or not. A modern example of this synthesis
can be found in the Friends University professor, Richard Foster. His
writings contained much evangelical warmth. That term, evangelical
warmth, is just a soft-peddling of mysticism which you have already
noted is "scary".
Scripture teaches us to "test the spirits". We are not to assume the
subjective ideas we have are automatically from God. We are also not to
assume that we don't not receive the truth subjectively. Those of us
who are evangelical, born-again, Christian we are by definition to
affirm the mystical. How are to have personal relationship with God, if
we have no subjective relationship? The fact that some don't tie down
their mysticism with objective truth is no argument against Christian
Mysticism. Abuse of something is no argument against the proper use of it.
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