Christian Mysticism

Discussion in 'Pneumatology' started by FrozenChosen, May 28, 2004.

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  1. FrozenChosen

    FrozenChosen Puritan Board Freshman

    I was curious about your attitudes towards this subject. I imagine that most of you do not like the idea. I considered mysticism a misinterpretation and wrong application of spirituality.

    I see the whole charismatic movement as a mystic movement because of the emotional focus on the mysterious. I'm not talking about the health and wealth gospel, but the other kinds of charismatics.

    Are there any mystics who claim Reformed theology?
     
  2. dswatts

    dswatts Puritan Board Freshman

    Well, one of my favorites, A.W. Tozer, who wasn't reformed per se, has been labeled a 'mystic' by many. I think you have the right idea though with the confusion with true spirituality, which I think was Tozer's focus.

    And yet, who can deny that there is something mystic about our communion with God? It is indeed a mystery in many ways.

    Just my :wr50:

    Grace, Dwayne
     
  3. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

    It depends on how you use the word "mysticism" and its conotations.
     
  4. cupotea

    cupotea Puritan Board Junior

    When I think of mysticism, I think of communicating with dead people by means of channeling or some form of religious rituals.
     
  5. Ianterrell

    Ianterrell Puritan Board Sophomore

    Dan,

    There are definite mystical elements in normal Christian living, but then there are the pagan mysticism like Christ describes in his teaching on prayer. Men who think that "vain repetitions" grant them answer to their prayers? Isn't that what the modern "tongue-speaker" does today? I certainly consider the charismatic movement a modern Christian mysticism. Their magical roads to gaining wisdom and knowledge from God are positively gnostic.
     
  6. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

    We should not go beyond the mysticism of the Bible.
     
  7. Ianterrell

    Ianterrell Puritan Board Sophomore

    :amen:
     
  8. FrozenChosen

    FrozenChosen Puritan Board Freshman

    I suppose I mean mysticism as what is extra-biblical. I guess that ends it right there.

    I do not count the public, corporate recitation of creeds as a semi-cultic behavior, but rather, a good thing which cults stole from us and perverted.
     
  9. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

    But, if I can prove that something is in the Bible and it is "mystical," then that is okay.

    What is the qualifications for something that is "mystical?" Lets define "mystical." Mysticism is not just things that are not in the Bible.
     
  10. FrozenChosen

    FrozenChosen Puritan Board Freshman

    How's this (taken from a dictionary):

    mysticism, [i:3edf55e0af]n.[/i:3edf55e0af] - a spiritual discipline aiming at union with the divine through deep meditation or trancelike contemplation

    Does prayer or meditation on the Scriptures fit this?

    [Edited on 5-28-2004 by FrozenChosen]
     
  11. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    [quote:101843f7be]
    I suppose I mean mysticism as what is extra-biblical. I guess that ends it right there.
    [/quote:101843f7be]

    That is a rather narrow definition and would seem to exclude Christian experience, conscience (Paul appeals to personal conscience a number of times in the Bible) and the like. You may want to rethink the defintion.

    It would preclude, for example, listening to the Holy Spirit and letting him guide you in prayer. Martin Luther, for example, gives this advice in A Simple Way to Pray (in a portion addressing his recommended use of written prayers):

    [quote:101843f7be]
    I repeat here what I previously said in reference to the Lord's Prayer: if in the midst of such thoughts the Holy Spirit begins to preach in your heart with rich, enlightening thoughts, honor him by letting go of this written scheme; be still and listen to him who can do better than you can. Remember what he says and note it well and you will behold wondrous things in the law of God, as David says [Ps. 119:18].
    [/quote:101843f7be]
    http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/yourti14836.html

    So, according to Martin Luther, the Spirit will tell us when to stop using written prayers and enter free prayer. We are to "be still and listen to him." I would not categorize this as mysticism.

    As to Christian mysticim, it does not involve channeling spirits, as someone mentioned. There have been elements of mysticism in the Church throughout the centuries. Here is an excerpt from an encyclopedia, which discusses psuedo-Dionysius, an early proponent of Christian mysticism:

    [quote:101843f7be]
    Pseudo-Dionysius, in his various works, gave a systematic treatment of Christian Mysticism, carefully distinguishing between rational and mystical knowledge. By the former, he says, we know God, not in His nature, but through the wonderful order of the universe, which is a participation of the Divine ideas ("De Divinis Nomin.", c, vii, §§ 2-3, in P. G., III, 867 sq.). There is, however, he adds, a more perfect knowledge of God possible in this life, beyond the attainments of reason even enlightened by faith, through which the soul contemplates directly the mysteries of Divine light. The contemplation in the present life is possible only to a few privileged souls, through a very special grace of God: it is the theosis, mystike enosis.
    [/quote:101843f7be]


    The practice of [i:101843f7be]lectio divina [/i:101843f7be]has been in the church for a long time too. It was codified in the Rule of St. Benedict (a monmastic rule), for example. Lectio divina is the reading of sacred scripture in a way to allow God to guide one through the scriptures in what I suppose might be called a mystical way. Here are a number of articles on it:

    http://www.forministry.com/theword/LectioDivina/home.dsp

    That said, I have never heard of Reformed recommending the lectio divina, although true meditation on scripture may be similar to this practice.

    BTW, I am not defending mysticism. I know little about it. I am just making some comments.

    Scott
     
  12. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

    [quote:86cafc1b65]The practice of lectio divina has been in the church for a long time too. It was codified in the Rule of St. Benedict (a monmastic rule), for example. Lectio divina is the reading of sacred scripture in a way to allow God to guide one through the scriptures in what I suppose might be called a mystical way. Here are a number of articles on it:

    http://www.forministry.com/theword/LectioDivina/home.dsp

    That said, I have never heard of Reformed recommending the lectio divina, although true meditation on scripture may be similar to this practice.

    BTW, I am not defending mysticism. I know little about it. I am just making some comments.

    Scott[/quote:86cafc1b65]

    Scott, Scott, Scott!!! I love lectio divina!! I practice it daily. It is definitely a lost jewel of Monasticism.

    I posted on it a couple days ago: http://www.puritanboard.com/forum/viewthread.php?tid=4690

    The only thing, is that I believe it is "mystical." I said that a number of times in my thread on it.

    There are many things that are mystical including our "mystical union" (Reformed used that term) with Christ. The Eucharist is mystical, we cannot fully explain it. Our communion with God in prayer is mystical. When the prophets received revelation, it was "mystical." It all depends on our use of the word.

    Could our use of "mystical" here be: that which we cannot fully explain rationally, and yet still believe it?

    Paul
     
  13. Scott

    Scott Puritan Board Graduate

    I did not see the thread on lectio. I don't know much about it, but I am reading a book about it now.

    Frankly, while I don't know of Reformers who expressly recommended lectio divina, I imagine that their writing on meditation on scripture will be substantively the same. Reformed / Puritans acknowledge inward illumination of the Spirit and would agree that all true spiritual knowledge and understanding of the scriptures we have comes from the Holy Spirit. So any meditations that draw correct conclusions are Spirit given in a sense.

    From the articles I read, lectio is not talking about an audible voice of the Spirit or some illumination not governed or controlled by the scriptures. It seems even tamer than the prophetic category of revelation some Reformers approved of.

    Anyway, I think it would useful to compare lectio with the advice on meditation on the scriptures that Reformers have. I could not find anything in Baxter's Christian Directory.

    Scott
     
  14. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

    Scott, I haven't read any books yet, only articles.

    (for those who have yet to read about lectio divina):
    There is a big difference between Montastic lectio divina and Scholastic lectio divina. The Monastic form talks about hearing the 'inner voice' of the Scriptures. But once you actually listen to what the early writters are saying, they are not talking about some form of higher knowledge or secret meaning of the scriptures. It is very sober minded actually. St. Augustine repeatedly said that "God is found in our heart." Allowing the Scriptures to speak to us inwardly while the Spirit is applying the text to our lives, is the real meaning behind some seemingly mystical statements. As Scott said, listening with your heart has more to do with contemplation and deep thought than any sort of revelation or prophetic experience.

    Paul
     
  15. yeutter

    yeutter Puritan Board Senior

    Rembrandt you have indeed hit on the meaning of chrisitan mysticism as Augustine understood it and as the Reformed pietists understood it.

    It does indeed matter how you define mysticism. Some dutch reformed men I know criticize the Netherland Reformed Congregations and the english and new england puritans as being too mystical. [I have heard this criticism in both Protestant Reformed and Canadian Reformed circles.] They are troubled by some aspects of the puritans Reformed experiential preaching.
     
  16. rembrandt

    rembrandt Puritan Board Sophomore

  17. bigheavyq

    bigheavyq Puritan Board Freshman

    mysticism

    well personally, having grown up in latter rain charismatic and pentecostal churches, the christianity isn't simple any more. I've seen it mixed with platonism, mystical gnostisicm, existentialism, legalistic pietism, a little eastern thought and in the word of faith churches occultism. I have heard pastors quote kierkegaard and schliermacher from the pulpit without having ever read them.
    however, many years ago a latter rain preacher was preaching the reformed faith by the name of ern baxter.
    my thinking started to change already seeing so many problems inherit in the charismatic movement.
    now, I am not a cessationist by any means just because of abuse and misuse I will not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    and just because you are in a orthodox reformed and cessationist church doesn't mean worldly philosophies haven't crept into your presuppositions.
    I see a lot of aristolian and enlightenment thought that has crept in during the past few centuries.
    you affirm miracles, healing and word gifts in the past but are against them today.
    you are filled with the spirit, but you quench the very power He has.
    now I don't want the crazy emotional stuff that goes on in His name. There should be scriptual restraints as it says in I Cor. 14. yet it should be something we want to be open to.

    most of all let each one understand are presuppositions that come from worldly philosophies and be true to God's word letting the holy spirit teach us.

    your brother in Christ

    jonathan
     
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