Thoughts on Christian Mysticism



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  • Thoughts on Christian Mysticism

    What is your feeling on Christian Mysticism, how would you define it, does the word "mysticism" give the impression of relationship with the occult?

    According to the material I am reading it relates to an experience with God that is beyond the use of our intellect. If that is the case it is something that I yearn to experience and encounter every second of every day, however it is not something that is not deemed important in the Church today ... why would the Church of today not want a real, dynamic, powerful encounter with the Divine? Is it simply apathy?

    When I think of Christian Mysticism I think of Thomas Kempis, "The Imitation of Christ".

    "He that followeth me shall not walk in darkness,(1) saith the Lord. These are the words of Christ; and they teach us how far we must imitate His life and character,if we seek true illumination, and deliverance from all blindness of heart. Let it be our most earnest study, therefore, to dwell upon the life of Jesus Christ. 2. His teaching surpasseth all teaching of holy men, and such as have His Spirit find therein the hidden manna.(2) But there are many who, though they frequently hear the Gospel, yet feel but little longing after it, because they have not the mind of Christ. He, therefore, that will fully and with true wisdom understand the words of Christ, let him strive to conform his whole life to that mind of Christ...Be ofttimes mindful of the saying,(3) The eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear with hearing. Strive, therefore, to turn away thy heart from the love of the things that are seen, and to set it upon the things that are not seen. For they who follow after their own fleshly lusts, defile the conscience, and destroy the grace of God."

    (1) John viii. 12. (2) Revelations ii. 17. (3) Ecclesiastes i. 8.

  • #2
    Monk Thomas A. Kempis' writing of "Imitation of Christ" is one of my favorite spiritual classics since I first consumed his book in 1989. And yes, he is classified a Christian Mystic When I give one of his books to someone I find is mature in the faith, I explain that some of the content is monasteric, and one has to be careful not to take everything at face value. It is not a book for just anyone, maturity is required. However many of the first chapters are profoundly immense, and I do openly quote him frequently.

    I know what you mean though. For example, there is the Desert Fathers for one that are more about the Catholic departure to Eastern mysticism and philosophy. St. John of the Cross is another that comes to mind. I probably have offended many Desert Father adherents with my 2006 article regarding the nature of the Desert Fathers found here: Eternal Path - Desert Fathers

    The problem with the term "Christian Mystic" is that some camps bring to bear the New Age practices. For example, Mystic Quaker Richard Foster and his esteemed book “Celebration of Discipline” is ignorantly embraced by many clergy as “the book" of spiritual training. Rather, it is sometimes properly deemed as a virtual encyclopedia of theological error! The book introduces the reader to Eastern mysticism, 'using guided imagery' occult practices of visualization, meditation and even astral travel. Equally, Richard Foster's Renovare is an extension of ancient occult methods heavily cloaked in Christian metaphors and terminology. The program cleverly teaches disguised techniques of the New Age such as quietism, mantras, centering, Buddhism, Yoga, and Transcendental Meditation.

    "They are full of superstitions from the East; they practice divination like the Philistines and clasp hands with pagans." (Isaiah 2:6)

    Another writer and speaker highly revered is Dallas Willard, who is in a similiar camp as Richard Foster, promoting Contemplative Prayer and Quaker Mysticism through Spiritual Formation. I think of the "Ancient Wisdom Conference" which through gnosis or as a Gnostic, purport to relay spirituality through "knowledge" instead of the Holy Spirit. A couple of definitive markers of occult or recluse spirituality is applied adjectives like "Ancient" or "Secret." Other writers who depart from scripturally sound theology and spiritual practice include Henri Nouwen, Jan Johnson, Brian McLaren, Tony Campolo, and Evelyn Underhill. InterVarsity Press is a proponent in publishing these writers.

    Paul wrote, “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). Paul rejected the idea that we are saved by grace and perfected by works. We are saved by grace and we grow by grace. Those who promote the deviant form of Christian Mysticism seems to miss this point. Here is how Dallas Willard views it: “The activities mentioned—when we engage in them conscientiously and creatively and adapt them to our individual needs, time and place—will be more than adequate to help us receive the full Christ-life and become the kind of person that should emerge in the following of him.” It is hard to see how this is anything other than “being perfected by the flesh” which Paul said was impossible.

    "Contemplating" in spiritual context use to mean a good thing, like "gay" use to mean happy. However, some prominent writers across the spectrum again introduced "Contemplative Prayer" as an important facet to correct Christian living. Many Christian schools, colleges and seminaries now pump young people's minds full of these teachings. Again, another article that probably tromps on some toes, but should be understood: Eternal Path - Contemplative Prayer

    In your context, Christian Mystic is indeed the good meaning, meditating on God and coming into his presence in humility. The properly guided Christian Mystic is said to be in pursuit of holiness down the path to bring the mind, body and soul into compliance to the Spirit. Which entails discipline, purification and illumination… essentially in that order. However, one can easily be diverted to go on a occult tangent like Kabbalism, when reading certain books. But then on the flip side, Hesychasm, practiced by the Orthodox, as to "go into the closet and pray" is something I have done for 20 years. However, this practice sometime crosses over into the Eastern practices of the Desert Fathers, which is problematic from my perspective.

    In the end, we have a coat of many colors when using the phrase. Some of it is on the high ground, other aspects should not to be considered. Requires a great deal of discernment to walk unscathed in today’s "anything goes" ecumenical landscape. I find the weight of the problem lies in the spiritual ignorance found among church leadership. The layman or sheep cannot know all the dangers, this is where the shepherd comes in. The gateway that allows the body to become contaminated is located at the head. If the head of the body does not reject the poison, the whole body will suffer, and in some cases perish.

    That’s my take on it


    • #3
      New Mystics, Patricia King and the Elijah list

      Hi! I did write a study on this topic, that Christian Mysticism started with the RCC, crept into the "seperated brethren" eventually was a in-road into ecumenism, then is bringing many back to Mystery Babylon.

      What amazes me is how people do not even realise that Blavatski, Crowley and other occultists spoke about this, also now we have Christian Yoga thats a whole other topic. It only seems to bother the charasmatics, harder to reach them, not so hard with the unbelievers as I have spoken to lots about the new age movement.

      Anyway, here are my own studies I had spent many weeks writing this as most of my time has been majored on this stuff, having seen the effects it has first hand, I know how it damages people, their pastors are real fat cats, and I am appaled how people can justify this what I find annoying is the blatant bullish behavour that if you are not one of us your named dangerous, backslidden, these churches ad christian types should come with a health warning as you do in the cigerette packets "warning these charasmatic churches are dangerous, and can cause serious side effects", thus I should encourage you, that with these people they need to be exposed dont let them bully you into thinking that you are out side the Body of Christ because you do not hold to their view etc.......

      here are the articles I wrote with my own personal perspective.

      First Plumbline Apologetics ~ Patricia King

      "Ekstasis" Worship Dancing of Shamanism, Kundalini Yoga, Mystical Experiances and Club Mysterio.

      First Plumbline Apologetics ~ Patricia King Hermetics

      Lucy Real - New Mystic: First Plumbline Apologetics ~ Lucy Real - New Mystic

      First Plumbline Apologetics ~ Monica Dennington - Gnostic/Feminist

      My article on The International House of Prayer (IHOP) Mike Bickle who was from the Kansas City Prophets: First Plumbline Apologetics ~ IHOP

      The ElijahList - The biggest distributor of false prophets in cyberspace: First Plumbline Apologetics ~ The Elijah List

      Those are the articles I have written on Christian Mysticsism.

      You can actually read up on it from here: CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Mysticism
      Miguel Hayworth - Taking Christ to the Streets in the UK


      • #4
        Christian Mysticism

        I usually am cautious when people use non-scriptural terms to promote Christian practices e.g. corporate body of Christ, fast track bible study, soaking in the Spirit, love evangelism, plundering hell, being radical for Christ and the list goes on. It generally indicates to me that someone has found a better way than what is taught in the scriptures.

        While I am ignorant on Christian Mysticism, the term seems to be a composite of Christian combined with pagan. A bit like holy drugs or generous greed, the words are opposed to each other.

        "Brothers, I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, so that you may learn from us not to go beyond what is written. Then you will stop boasting about one person at the expense of another." 1 Cor. 4:6

        We must constantly bring everything under the authority of the scriptures and the Holy Spirit due to so much having the appearance of Godliness, but some of it not being of God.

        "Having a form of godliness, but denying (hindering/stopping) the power of it; even turn away from these." 2 Tim. 3:5

        God bless


        • #5
          Much to chew on here. For the sake of the lambs, I agree that shepherding by mature and straightforward Christians is vital to prevent misleading use of Christian terminology or twisting of Biblical scriptures. Beware curiosity to the lure of odd practices that put on an aura of respectability. What was considered usurious and unwise in the days of yesterday now offers attractive modern experiences, enhancing self power, and mysterious excitement. Deception often comes cloaked in the disguise of religion. I have known many who have surrendered their logical reasoning and enthusiastically winged on to a fresh new technique, leaving behind their Bible doctrine and critical thinking in the dust. I agree with WATCHMAN--be cautious, go NOT beyond what is written.


          • #6
            Very interesting conversation. I have read some of Henry Nouwin's writings and some of the others. Saint Teresa of Avila's writings all point to "mysticism". I agree that you need to be a mature Christian and be able to discern what is and what isn't. Our best and only guide needs to be and must be the inspired Word of God.

            By the way, what is your take on Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer? I know quite a few people that are over there. I have never been there, but I have read some of Bickle's writings.


            • #7
              The title "Christian Mysticism" is an oxymoron, an inherent contradiction.

              Mysticism is occult, secret and demonic. Christianity is Godly and open to all.
              Stephen Yulish, PhD - Author of the fiction novels "The Great Harpazo Deception : The Real Story of UFOs" and "Invasion : Israel," as well as the non-fiction "Search for a Civic Religion: History of the Character Education Movement in America, 1890-1935."


              • #8
                I recieved a few emails asking how Catholicism plays into the modern mystisicm. This is not an attempt to pick on Catholicism, whereas the Protestant and Orthodox churches are equally plagued by similar problems. In combining Eastern subjective spirituality with Western self-assurance, Catholic mysticism has done much to effectively change public and private religious life as to alter core beliefs and values of the West. Mystical God consciousness is an attempt to replace Christ's redemption and salvation with occult varients.

                For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church has assimilated to herself the mystery elements of pagan religions. The Reformed Catholic Church, not so much so. Subjective religious experience, or mysticism, continues to be the meeting point of pagan religions and Catholicism, particularly so since Vatican Council II, when Rome changed her major strategy in an attempt to bring Protestants back under the papal fold. The marriage between Romanism and paganism is documented in official statements from Rome. For example, in Vatican Council II documents she states,

                "…In Hinduism men explore the divine mystery and express it both in the limitless riches of myth and the accurately defined insights of philosophy. They seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound meditation and recourse to God in confidence and love. Buddhism in its various forms testifies to the essential inadequacy of this changing world. It proposes a way of life by which man can, with confidence and trust, attain a state of perfect liberation and reach supreme illumination either through their own efforts or by the aid of divine help. …The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions." Vatican Council II Documents, No. 56, Nostra Aetate, "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,", 28 Oct. 1965, Vol. I, Para. 2, p. 739.

                Jesuit priest William Johnston explains how it happened,

                "Then came the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965). Overnight the Catholic Church which had been a Western institution exporting its wares to the East became a world community. Asian and African bishops and theologians assembled in Rome and, with their European and American confreres, acknowledged that the Spirit of God is at work in all peoples and in all religions. Since then, most theologians recognize non-Christian religions as 'valid ways'." William Johnston, The Mirror Mind (New York: Fordham University Press, 1990) p. 7.

                It is on such a quagmire that Catholicism stands hand-in-hand with Buddhism and Hinduism, and out of which well-known Catholic mystics such as William Johnston and Thomas Keating have emerged. For example, Johnston describes the effect of enlightenment.

                "Self-realization lies at the very heart of Buddhism. In self-realization I become one with God just as the object is one with the mirror and just as Jesus is one with his Father."

                The famous mystical monk, Thomas Merton, developed this pantheistic identification with God, as does his present day devotee, William Shannon. Shannon endorses the idolatrous self-identification with God and cites his mentor, Merton,

                "A person of true faith travels, not without difficulty, towards the heart of mystery. Such a person, as Merton puts it, 'works his way through the darkness of his own mystery until he discovers that his own mystery and the mystery of God merge into one reality, which is the only reality.' DQ 180." William Shannon, Seeds of Peace Contemplation and Non-Violence (New York: Crossroad Publ. Co, 1996) p. 73.

                These quotations are standard descriptions of the pantheistic myth that we are all in a universal God. In their own minds, Merton and Shannon have literally transmuted God Himself into their own image, having exchanged Him for human beings as an object of worship. Have they not, in the words of Romans 1:23, "Changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man"?

                High thoughts, vain imaginations, and carnal reasonings about the greatness of human efforts have always exalted themselves against the knowledge of God. If "a progress, as a genuine dialogue of love, to the point of rendering the person wholly possessed by the divine Beloved" were true, there would have been no need of salvation by the Redeemer. Scripture declares the reality and truth, "not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us." Titus 3:5

                In 1986, Pope John Paul II seized the inter-faith initiative by gathering 160 of the world's religious leaders for a prayer summit at Assisi, Italy. They flew in from around the globe, Islamic Mullahs from nine nations, the Dalai Lama, (traditionally regarded by Buddhists as a living deity), native American Shamans and Indian cultists, African animists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Catholics and, of course, Protestants. "We will stand side by side asking God to give us peace," declared the Pope. L'Osservatore Romano, English version of the official Vatican newspaper, Oct. 27, 1986, p. 1.

                The grand encore to this initial dramatization of unity between light and darkness occurred in January 2002, as Pope John Paul II led 200 leaders of different religions once again at Assisi, Italy. By public demonstration, by official sanction, in countless books and seminars, as well as Web pages with broad ecumenical support, Popedom has set a mystical agenda, which the world loves and accepts. Any believer or confessing fellowship group that remains silent in the face of such bald-faced blasphemy inevitably lends credence to the Vatican's misguidance. For Rome still assumes her ancient legal principle to stand, "He who is silent is understood to consent."

                These are headlines from the spiritual world, not intended to bash Catholicism as a whole. I assure you, there are as many mislead Protestants as their are Catholics. This is merely an outline highlighting some of the historical choices Rome made to appease the world system. Such compromise from any faith system must be considered carefully in light of ones own destiny. Christ's message was clear in John 14:6, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" which was an all inclusive statement. It is not possible to join the testaments of Christ's person, office and work with any other faith system or method.

                Christ led Christians interpret all religious experience by the normative revelation of God recorded for them in the Holy Bible. Christian mystics are not satisfied only with the revelation of God's heart, but wish to equate the living God with “the god” within. They in turn, exchange God Himself by turning to inward self-realization and enlightenment that is essentially occult in nature. The values that they set are based on personal inner feelings and experiences that go beyond the teachings of Christ. When one seeks "experience" as confirmation, they are trusting in the senses, and end up servants to depraved powers.

                There are many false prophets gone out into the world, if we study diligently these things, which God has recorded for our safeguard against the subtle deceptions of Satan, we will not mislead nor be misled. True believers in Christ must take to heart solemn warnings of the Apostle Paul, "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." Ephesians 5:11


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Judy View Post
                  By the way, what is your take on Mike Bickle and the International House of Prayer? I know quite a few people that are over there. I have never been there, but I have read some of Bickle's writings.
                  Here is my own personal take on Bickle, apart from be in with the Wimber/Joel's Army/3rd wave restoration movement and the K.C false prophets, the guy is demonic. Here is a article I wrote on Bickle, their is a encylopedia that covers on him

                  Also do get a copy of this book if you can as it does go into Bickles history.

                  also to note bickle was also involved with Todd Bentley and the NAR.
                  Miguel Hayworth - Taking Christ to the Streets in the UK


                  • #10
                    Christ Minded

                    "If a person strives to have the mind of Christ he or she first must know Christ..." Phil 3:10. When it was said "pray like this" Jesus said our Father who art in heaven "Hollowed be thy name" the lawyers of that time were raised with the knowledge of who the Father was and the Father's name - they knew all the divine names and what the meanings of his name meant. We have not had that type of training as children being taught differently than the people of that were on earth when Jesus was teaching his disciples things. To know the different names of the Father and then to know the different names of Jesus is the beginning that should be in the minds eye of our walk and talk with Jesus.

                    Jesus who gave up his heavenly kingdom and position to come to earth came with the mind to save souls. That was the main thing at hand and the primary purpose of his coming to earth. In doing so, it was known by the Jewish leaders that they were threatened with loosing their job, their position in the community and their leadership position with the country's leaders, kings governors etc. They were in a defensive position and Satan could easily persuae them to do his bidding coming against Jesus. The secret kept from all was about to be unveiled.

                    The mind of Christ put in a small amount of words "SOUL WINNING" save lost souls!!! His mind is for you to live day by day soul winning every where you go, you are not living in the mind of Christ if you can't see lost souls instead of people. You need to pray without ceasing asking the Lord to bring someone to you for you to show that soul the way to salvation. He will also have you speak scriptures that would bring help to a brother or sister in christ.

                    There is a lot more that can be said about this subject but the main theme no matter how you cut it is 'SOUL WINNING NUMBER ONE AND CHRISTIAN HELPS NUMBER TWO".... Once you are involved in souls, you then will want to be involved with those who are looking for lost souls to show them the way of salvation. "MISSIONARIES"

                    Don't you just love those sold out missionaries?

                    Norm Lower


                    • #11

                      Your right Mysticism sounds non-Christian and thus one could say it is. Why do we allow others to get us on a rabbit trail and worry if we are allowing Christians to be involved in magical things not of Christ? I suppose it is an important topic but not one to worry about. The mystical part of the Christian walk has been as spiritual things really happening to earthly people. Real worship is in "spirit".

                      Being born again is an unseen spiritual thing. Jesus walks in the spiritual unseen world. Unseen by natural man. The Father sits high and lifted up on his "spiritual world’s throne. Angels come and go, and are seen by man then disappear. If we think about it from the earthly view, it sounds somewhat magical, mystical, and spiritual.

                      The thing for Christians is for us to know the original Jesus and his kingdom so we will be able to see the counterfeit. We have to learn to walk in the light and then this will be better explained to others and to ourselves. The closer we walk with Jesus the more he will show us that are not from him.

                      An example - let's say we have dirt on our hands and we enter into a pitch black room - we can't see the dirt - if we turn on a small light we can see some dirt - we wash and it looks good - we turn on a brighter light and now we can see dirt again - we wash again - we then turn on a brighter light and we can still see some dirt around the finger nails - ... The closer we get to the light the more our sins will be revealed and if we confess our sins we will be shown other things that are sin in our lives. We become enlightened and shown a lamp unto our feet... A person that continues in the light will have that light begin to be seen thru their eyes and then then a sphere would be in place.

                      Just like Adam and Eve had a sphere around them and when they sinned the light went out by death and they could see themselves as naked (Unwalled and unprotected) as seen in Proverbs 29:18 the word perish means the same word of being unprotected and unwalled. That person and could be able to be seen by others as looking different and can be thought of as some kind of preacher just by entering into a room and not saying a word. This would apply to that comment about walking in the light. Another reason for this is for another reason. I noticed a comment about walking in the light, which is ("Hebrew") being enlightened. In all cases we are allowed to enter into a sphere or realm of Jesus' name, which allows protection from outside sources, while in this sphere of protection... An example would be if you are having a particular long series of attacks on you from satin's work against you, you could find peace in Jehovah Shalom by entering into his name. This sphere of enlightening has a real job offered to Christians who seek rest or are walking in Jesus and not having to worry about protection from attacks. A non-Christian person would look at this as some kind of magical work.

                      I think the choice of words is important if you are going to do a study about a topic. Mystic can be forced applied to a part of Christian way of life. Choice of words...

                      All that said the bottom line is "yes" this word applies but in context using the proper choice of words. Satin can only copy words and conditions, as the Lord is the only original creator of all things. Satan can trick you with one choice of word. Just ask Eve.

                      I really do not know where to stop elaborating on different topics and hope you will forgive this choppy writing. I think mysticism can be seen in the world but not much of it is Christian related.

                      You can paint a pigpen white but it is still a pigpen.

                      Norm Lower


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