Re: Mysticism

From: Rich Blinne (
Date: Tue Feb 18 2003 - 12:43:05 EST

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    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
    > interesting.
    > 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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