I wonder if Plato and Mani would be pleased to see how much influence they've had on the Body of Christ and the professing church.
My own past has left me with a vulnerability to, and sometimes a hunger for, various aspects of Gnosticism and "mysticism." The passive stuff doesn't really appeal, but the desire for union with the divine can be quite intense. Interestingly, even though I'm not one for sitting "tranquil" for however long (in terms of meditation), I've long been tempted to desire a kind of passive stasis with God, a form of non-existence or at least existence that is known only to God.
That way lay the dragon, and death.
I wonder if Wesley didn't maintain too much of his previous mysticism after he was converted (as someone else suggested here once). Duncan Campbell, Tozer, Ravenhill, and essentially the whole Pentecostal movement inherited a tremendous amount of their theology from Wesley. The whole concept of a "second blessing" (or third, or more) to be sought by praying for hours and hours (and days and days, sometimes), along with the whole idea of "praying through" or "praying until you pray" in general... I am wary of it. I certainly agree with the importance of cultivating a focused mind during prayer, but my experiences of praying "in the altars" and for extended periods during a prayer meeting tended to be fairly passive, and I can see how one could easily slip into "letting things in" out of desperation for the sought blessing.
I've also overdone the intentional self-denial thing a bit, too. Eating hardly at all, and/or eating extremely plain (i.e. Ezekiel bread and water) tends to leave me with little desire to do anything. Periodic (and somewhat frequent, i.e. 1-2 times a week) fasting is a great idea, but denying myself the enjoyment of tasty food was rather counterproductive. Not allowing myself diversion also led to considerable problems, though I tend to be so focused on whatever I'm doing that I have to be careful about what I do for recreation.
Anyway, I'll stop rambling, but I would like to echo Ron's warnings against mysticism. My grandmother (a professing Christian for 30-40 years) is really into St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc, and she's really gone the "way of Jake," so to speak. I think it's particularly fired up her feminism.
| 2004/11/22 20:16||Profile|
I wonder if Wesley didn't maintain too much of his previous mysticism after he was converted (as someone else suggested here once). Duncan Campbell, Tozer, Ravenhill, and essentially the whole Pentecostal movement inherited a tremendous amount of their theology from Wesley.
John Wesley was an interesting mixture, of that there is no doubt. Someone has explained his passions by saying that his passion for perfection was part of a mystical heritage in his (fairly) high Anglicanism. However he parted company with the Moravians because of their passive pietism. There is a wonderful diary of John Nelson, one of Wesleys field preachers, which has several accounts of conflict between Wesleys teaching and the Quakers over the passivity and those who said Wesley was a law man.
I recently read [i] Not long after his Aldersgate experience, Wesley collided with Quietism and the "stillness controversy," in which adherents advocated a passivity apart from the direct movement of God's Spirit. While never losing his own appreciation for and practice of meditation, Wesley felt that extreme stillness was antithetical to the clear revelation of God in Scripture. We have no need to wait to be "moved" to do what God has clearly set out for us to do. Revelation creates its own response. Furthermore, he could not find this gap in the saints of the ages. So, from the outset, Methodism bridged the gap with a dynamic emphasis upon inward and outward holiness holiness of heart and life.[/i] John Wesley: "Theologian of the Gaps"</a> by Dr. Steve Harper
His theology has a strong portion, in the a mixture, of ardent activism as an evidence of genuine faith. Wesley was also strongly anti-Luther and anti-Calvin. He was horrified at the way in which Luther consistently set the Law and the Gospel at odds with each other, virtually equating the moral Law with the Law of sin.
His comments regarding Calvinism sound a little patronizing today. Wesley had come to know many believers in predestination whose "real Christian experience" could not be denied, and adding that this fact stared him in the face and was clear proof that predestination "[i]is only an opinion, not subversive of the very foundations of Christian experience, but compatible with a love for Christ and a genuine work of grace. Yea, many hold it at whose feet I desire to be found in the day of the Lord Jesus.[/i]"
Whitfields comments were much more generous; [i] Asked by a censorious Calvinist whether he thought they might see John Wesley in heaven, Whitfield replied "I fear not. He will be so near the throne, and we shall be at such a distance, that we shall hardly get a sight of him.[/i]
| 2004/11/23 9:49||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
I don't think there is much to add to what has been said now. Except to say that with all God's men, they know in part and sometimes there are very large gaps in what they know. The area of spiritual conflict and demonic activity was not one of the areas of Tozer's specialization. [b]I wonder what he might have thought if he had seen the deluge of spirit powers that have flowed into the west since his time.[/b]
I agree, part of the problem in exporting thought from a now fixed 'era' into where we now stand.
In spite of views which may indicate the opposite I am not without experience of the psychic and its consequences. My warnings do not arise from book learning.
That's appreciated Ron, mine own more slight and largely drug induced from another era, that of dead reckoning.
Yet... ;-) Knew this was coming right?
It does seem that there are as many definitions as there are applications and not to argue one for another and make it even more confussing...
The way you have been describing this I can't really argue with nor is that any disposition am I inclined to. Dangerous is self explanatory and with all that is false, distracting, devious, misleading anything that draws the saints away from the Lord or into trespassing territory causes the same compulsion to speak or strike or even scream if necessary, anything to save the brethren from undue and unnecessary harm. It is because of love not about being 'right'.
Without beating this to death, I did find this from Tozer as self explanatory from his point of view at that time;
The word mystic, Tozer explains in his introduction to The Christian Book of Mystical Verse, refers to that personal spiritual experience common to the saints of Bible times and well known to multitudes of people in the postbiblical era. I refer to the evangelical mystic who has been brought by the gospel into intimate fellowship with the Godhead. His theology is no less and no more than is taught in the Christian Scriptures. He walks the high road of truth where walked of old prophets and apostles, and where down the centuries walked martyrs, reformers, Puritans, evangelists and missionaries of the cross.
[The mystic] differs from the ordinary orthodox Christian only because he experiences his faith down in the depths of his sentient being while the other does not. He exists in a world of spiritual reality. He is quietly, deeply and sometimes almost ecstatically aware of the presence of God in his own nature and in the world around him. His religious experience is something elemental, as old as time and the creation. It is immediate acquaintance with God by union with the Eternal Son. It is knowing that which passes knowledge.
The word mystic did not scare Tozer. [b]The term mysticism simply means the practice of the presence of God, the belief that the heart can commune with God directly, moment by moment, without the aid of outward ritual. He saw this belief at the very core of real Christianity, the sweetest and most soul-satisfying experience a child of God can know.[/b]
[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?topic_id=3801&forum=23&1]Mystic and the Prophet[/url]
Another contrast, this from Oswald Chambers;
[i]For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.[/i] (Colossians 3:3)
"Paul is not talking to disembodied spirits, he is talking to men and women who have been through identification with the death of Jesus and know that their "old man" is crucified with Him. If we are born again of the Holy Spirit and have made the moral decision to obey what He reveals about sin, then we must go on to believe that God can enable us to live for His glory in any circumstances He places us in. You can always detect the right kind of belief in Jesus by a flesh-and-blood testimony. "Therefore by their fruits you will know them" (Matthew 7:20). Other people are not likely to confuse grapes with thorns or figs with thistles. [b]Mystic belief means that we enter into a conscious inheritance of what the redemption has wrought for us and daily, hourly, manifest the marvel of the grace of God in our actual lives.[/b]
The majority of us hang on to Jesus Christ, we are thankful for the massive gift of salvation, but we don't do anything toward working it out. That is the difficult bit and is also the bit the majority of us fall in, because we have not been taught that that is what we have to do. Consequently, there is a gap between our religious profession and our actual practical living. To put it down to human frailty is a wiggle. There is only one word for it, and that is [i]humbug[/i].
In my actual life I live below the belief that I profess. We can do nothing toward our salvation, but we can work out what God works in, and the emphasis all through the New Testament is that God gives us sufficient energy to do it if we will. The great factor in Christian experience is the one our Lord continually brought out, namely, the reception of the Holy Spirit who does in us what He did for us, and slowly and surely our natural lives are transformed into spiritual lives through obedience."
Sorry for the length of all that, reading Oswald Chambers of late has been just tremendously edifying (especially at 40,000 feet, looking over a sea of downy clouds, majestic mountains...Gods handiwork...breathtaking!)
So where was I...
Just from cursory reading had noticed some bits that were also alluded to here with John Wesley in other writings.
If I may, it seems the hinge of danger is in this;
Not long after his Aldersgate experience, Wesley collided with Quietism and the "stillness controversy," in which adherents advocated [b]a passivity apart from the direct movement of God's Spirit[/b].
What you have been enforcing all along. So I guess I am not after defending anything in particular, only trying to define the different definitions that have come forth from men of God that we have appreciation for. Really, reading through this whole thread it seems there is more agreement in substance and warning, but that the meanings often poured into the words 'mystic' and 'mysticism' from a [b][i]Christian[/i][/b] perspective are as varied as what those same words might describe the rest of the worlds ideas thereof.
Maybe we should just call it something else, frankly those words initially conjure up and unfavorable reaction and I think all of this is really a good thing that is being done here, namely, to cause some thinking and thoughts of warning and reflection upon anything that we read.
That it always must pass 'muster', to be prayerful, careful Bereans of not only things written with ink and paper but even those ideas and thoughts, that travel the dark corridors of our minds.
| 2004/11/24 10:24||Profile|
Hi Bro. Mike,
I think the Biblical New Testament word for what you have shared with us is the Greek: Pneumatikos. It is translated as 'Spiritual." These were folk that walked in the Spirit, in the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the day that is what matters. Are we walking in the Spirit or the flesh? This is a doctrine that we must recapture in this age as God sends us revival. We must see converts come to Christ that are Spiritual, who live Christian lives with a continual awareness of God and walk before Him with a clear conscience. When we are fueled by the Holy Spirit, by yielding to the Holy Spirit, we in turn yield the fruit of the Spirit.
Moreover, meditate in the Old testament does not generally mean to sit quietly in the normal (modern and eastern) sense of the word. It means to either mutter or to utter. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. The word meditate in this passage is hagah and it means everything from ROAR to utter quietly. It also carried the meaning of pondering. But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; (Romans 10:13 KJV). Think of this progression; faith comes by hearing and then it is pondered until overflowing the heart and then into and back out through the mouth. Lets see; Into the ears, into the heart, into the mouth, into the next hearers. And over and over until the Gospel spreads around the whole world. That, I believe, is the true essense of meditation.
Robert Wurtz II
| 2004/11/24 10:50||Profile|