I came across this “new” term, Christian Mysticism. And I wondered what it meant. Upon first glance of just the word, I figured it was some new agey thing. Maybe it focused on the miracles that took place. Maybe it was a group of people who thought they could perform miracles themselves. At any rate, just the word alone sounded a little NON-Christian. But as I knew nothing about it, I thought I’d research it. And the more I researched, the more I knew I was already familiar with this term, because it is what I strive to be practicing….
Christian Mysticism, in simplistic terms, is the spirituality of the direct experience of God. The definition in Wikipedia defines Mysticism as “the philosophy and practice of a direct experience of God. Although it needs to be born in mind that ‘experience’ is a hotly debated term in the discussion on mysticism, and experience understood simply as a psychological state or event may be contested. In the Christian context it is traditionally practiced through pursuit of the three disciplines of prayer (including Christian meditation and contemplation), fasting (including other forms of abstinence and self-denial), and alms-giving, all discussed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7). Other forms of mysticism include participation in ecstatic worship and the use of entheogens. Christians believe that God dwells in Christians through the Holy Spirit, and therefore all Christians can experience God directly.”
Christian Mysticism is not about belief. Yes, scripture is believed, but it is not worshipped over God. The greatest example we have of a denomination predicated on Christian Mysticism is The Society of Friends (Quakers), a religion I very much can relate with, in the unprogrammed tradition. One statement they make is “we can never hold the Bible up as authority over the Holy Spirit who created it”. Christian Mysticism is marked with love and joy. It is about the direct oneness with God, nothing in the way. Jesus was one with God. He proclaimed it to be so. Christian Mysticism is about nothing else but this transforming union. This kind of union is the ultimate for the Christian Mystic, to be so permeated with God that we are one with Him. “Whereas all Christians have Christ, call on Christ, and can (or should) know Christ, the goal for the Christian mystic is to become Christ—to become as fully permeated with God as Christ is, thus becoming like him, fully human, and by the grace of God, also fully divine. In Christian teaching this doctrine is known by various names—theosis, divinization, deification, and transforming union.” (From here)
This deepened Christianity can be explained like this:
That while we honor the Scripture, we want to know God directly, not just through Scripture.
While we respect our heritage of teachings about God, we want to know God directly, not through doctrines and teachings.
While we gather in communal worship, we want to know God directly, not just through the Church.
If you follow Christ, and strive to be like Christ, you are a Christian Mystic. If you love unconditionally, you are a mystic. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:7-12 This is Christian Mysticism. God is love. We love. God is in us and of us because of that love.
But where did this come from? Is this just some made up hokey new form of Christianity? To the contrary, it is instead the truest form. It’s founder was Jesus Christ himself. “I and the Father are one” John 10:30 Jesus proclaimed it, and offers it to anyone who follows Him. Paul lived it, proclaiming “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 “Becoming God doesn’t mean we become all-knowing, all-powerful, or that we remember saying “let there be light.” It really means becoming Christ, or becoming divine—that God’s God-ness is experienced and known not as something outside and separate, but as a part of our own being. It means knowing God as Jesus knew the Father, so like Jesus, we are with him, fully human, and fully divine.” (From here) “I said, ‘You are “gods”” Psalm 82:6 Jesus refers to this scripture “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?” John 10:34 when he is explaining His claim to BE God. God is in Him, and He is in God.
So who are Christian Mystics? Well to name a few, Paul and John the Baptist were mystics. St. Teresa of Avila was a mystic. St. Francis of Assisi was a mystic. Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II were both mystics. Mother Teresa was a mystic. And of course, Jesus Christ was a mystic. And me, I am striving to be a Christian Mystic. I’m not even close, but it’s my ultimate destination.