Christian Mystics Explained
MYS´TIC, MYS´TICAL, a. [L. mysticus; Gr. μυζικος.] Obscure; hid; secret. Dryden.
2. Sacredly obscure or secret; remote from human comprehension.
God hath revealed a way mystical and supernatural. Hooker.
3. Involving some secret meaning; allegorical; emblematical; as mystic dance; mystic Babylon. Milton. Burnet.
MYS´TICALLY, adv. In a manner or by an act implying a secret meaning. Donne.
MYS´TICALNESS, n. The quality of being mystical, or of involving some secret meaning.
MYS´TICISM, n. Obscurity of doctrine.
2. The doctrine of the Mystics, who profess a pure, sublime and perfect devotion, wholly is disinterested, and maintain that they hold immediate intercourse with the divine Spirit.
MYS´TICS, n. A religious sect who profess to have direct intercourse with the Spirit of God.
"Mysticism, according to its historical and psychological definitions, is the direct intuition or experience of God; and a mystic is a person who has, to a greater or less degree, such a direct experience -- one whose religion and life are centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on that which the person regards as first hand personal knowledge."
What A Christian Mystic Is Not:
As you begin to discover the depths of your soul through the tradition and beauty of Christian mysticism, you will also quickly learn that there are people who feel the very term "Christian Mystic" to be highly improper, an oxymoron.
For these people, the word "mystic" summons up images of the occult, heathenism, and otherworldly spiritual attitudes or, more specifically, of concepts such as those found in "New Age" philosophies... Nothing could be further from the truth!
What Is A Christian Mystic:
So, what is a Christian Mystic? A person concerned not with knowing the letter of the Word, or religious dogmas, but with knowing the Spirit of the Word, which is to say living from within the experience of God’s word at the very core of being. A mystic, quite simply, is a lover of God who pursues the beloved from a deep realization that life as a Christian is evolving as the soul moves toward its fullness and destiny in relationship to God.
To travel into the world of the Christian mystic, one must discard concepts such as ego, pride and spiritual materialism in favor of adopting a sense of humility and hopeful expectation. It is to begin a great and stirring adventure that moves the soul from the kingdom of darkness to the Kingdom of God.
Indeed, one begins to experience the Bible as the living Word of God, which guides the reader from an ego-centric point of view to a mature and deeper sense of God's presence. Jesus' message that the kingdom of God is not out there somewhere, but rather here, within, available to humble through faith, is a personal realization that reaches across time to every human soul willing to follow.
With all this in mind, what is the basic understanding of Christian Mystics? For that, we can search in a variety of places, first in the teachings of Jesus found in the Gospels of New Testament. Secondly, within the great body of spiritual writings by such figures as St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, Theresa of Avila, and others from Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic and backgrounds. Third, there are contemporary resources from Christians of varying denominational backgrounds to explore. Ultimately, and above all others, through personal experience guided by the Holy Spirit.
The writings passed down from the early Christian Mystics are road maps, guide posts if you will, as we make the journey ourselves. The journey is based upon the Grace of God perceived by our own yearnings and pursued by love. I am thankful for the day that we live in, that others have blazed a trail before us and we now benefit from their eloquent expressions of mystical knowledge.
The Journey Begins:
To start, it is enough to understand that a "Christian Mystic" is a person who wholly accepts the lordship of Jesus through humility and finds the biblical teachings, life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to present for them, the only way to grow in relationship with God.
Briefly, it would be misleading to simply assume that the way of Christ is easy. To embrace the Christian mystic tradition is to invite misunderstanding, abuse, and, to a great extent, persecution topped off with intense spiritual warfare. Yet, no journey is without difficulty and, in this case, one has the encouragement of Paul, who stated, "Not I, but Christ who lives in me."
Consider, Then, These Basic Starting Points:
“For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, 'The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.' There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved." (Acts 4: 11-12 NLT)
There is more to life than can be gained through the physical senses and even the faculties of the soul that shelter their harvest.
There is that which is uncreated, which pervades everything, but remains outside the reach of human knowledge and understanding. The intellect can entertain the concept of God, but not grasp God.
God cannot be reached by logic or captured by thought. Instead, one can only approach by love steeped in humble expectation of God's grace.
The qualities that mark the Christian mystic includes devotion to Christ, being humble and without spiritual pride, refraining from judgment and trusting that God speaks to the heart of each person in a way and time of God's choosing.
A Christian mystic is transformed and transforming; the transformation is an ongoing process, an unfolding of the soul. Not accomplished in a single step, one continues in humbly seeking the Kingdom of Heaven.
"The story of the Christian mystics is one of an all-consuming, passionate love affair between human beings and God. It speaks of the yearning, a burning desire for the contemplation and presence of the divine… This yearning is a candle by the fire of divine love itself, which moves the mystics in their search and leads him, often arduous journeys, to discover and proclaimed the all-encompassing love of God for humankind."
- Ursula King