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The Problem with “Christian Mysticism”

The following is an excerpt from my new book, The Days of Noah and Lot: Uncovering the Perversions of the First and Last Days. I recently, I stumbled upon a Facebook friend’s post which divulged that she was a “mystic.” And at that point, I’d had it. Had what? Had it up to here with the enemy infiltrating the minds, hearts, and sanctuaries of those who either are or once were believers. This was once a woman of God, a woman who sung praises and preached at ministry events. Now, every other post on her timeline is filled with New Age adages.

But “Suzy” is not alone in her identification as a mystic. (Not sure if she bothers with the label “Christian” anymore.) There are many who either knowingly or unknowingly behave as mystics - yes, even in the Church. St. Teresa, whom I was researching for my book, was a famous mystic herself. And I believe one of the perverse fruits of her mysticism was what has been immortalized in marble as “St. Teresa’s Ecstasy.” (But for more on that, read my book.) So without further ado, let’s delve into what exactly mysticism and Christian mysticism are.

The "Ecstasy of St. Teresa" by Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Since St. Teresa was defined as a Spanish (Christian) mystic, let us look at the definition of a mystic. Merriam-Webster states:

Mystical; of or relating to mysteries or esoteric rites: Occult; of or relating to mysticism or mystics; mysterious; obscure, enigmatic; inducing a feeling of awe or wonder; having magical properties.

Christian mystics are described thusly on ChristianMystics.com:

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.

Allow me to highlight a couple points that stand out strikingly to me.

“A person concerned not with knowing the letter of the Word, or religious dogmas, but with knowing the Spirit of the Word…”

This is extremely dangerous. In fact, this is the accusation that many Reformed, Calvinist Christians throw at Charismatic and Pentecostal Christians: that they follow the Spirit, and not the Word of God. Problem being, how can you “try the spirits to see if they be of God” (I John 4:1-6) if you are not as familiar as you should be with the Word of God? The answer? You can’t. So very easily, a spirit claiming to be God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit could come to you and because you have no foundation, you will have nothing by which to judge the spirit and thus, be easy prey for a host of deceptions. Let’s face it: this isn’t a knock against Catholics (my father was raised as one), yet they, historically, were not big on reading the Word of God and knowing it for themselves. And Heaven forbid you ask questions! Forget what Jesus said: it is not for you to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God (Luke 8:10)!

“With all this in mind, what is the basic understanding of Christian Mystics? For that, we can search in a variety of places….within the great body of spiritual writings by such figures as...Meister Eckhart…”

If I had not recently watched a slew of historical documentaries on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, I would have had clue who Meister Eckhart was. But I did. He greatly influenced Hitler’s theology which was utterly pagan and Occultic in nature. In Nietzsche, Prophet of Nazism: The Cult of the Superman, it is stated:

Indeed, Nazimsm was deeply imbued with Occultism, and hypothesis of a community of Initiates beneath the cloak of National Socialism is gradually gaining ground in academic circles, following the publication of a good number of books linking Nazism with Aryan mysticism and occultism, the same sources which inspired Nietzsche's pagan philosophy.

Mystic writers like Karl Haushofer (who, according to Rudolph Hess, was the “secret ‘Master Magician of the Nazi party’, the man behind Hitler”), Lanz von Liebenfels, Karl-Maria Wiligut, Rudolf von Sebottendorf, Meister Eckhart, Dietrich Eckart, George Gurdjieff, Aleister Crowley, Carl Gustav Jung, H.S. Chamberlain, Richard Wagner, Guido von List, Herbert Reichstein, the German scientist Hans Hoerbiger… were the direct or indirect spiritual mentors of the Nazi movement. Lanz von Liebenfels, a mystic racist who founded the Order of the New Templars and preached “theozoology” (A blend of Aryan racism and mysticism), said of the Fuehrer:

“Hitler is one of our pupils… you will one day experience that he, and through him we, will one day be victorious, and develop a movement that will make the world tremble…” (II).

If that isn’t a chilling realisation, I don’t what is! To put it plainly: “What is Christian mysticism? The term ‘Christian mystic’ is an oxymoron. Mysticism is not the experience of a Christian” (GotQuestions.com). And therein lies the ultimate danger of “Christian mysticism”: the person seeks after wisdom, experiences, and signs instead of seeking the God of the signs and kind or evil, they have not eaten from the Tree of Life, but from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and condemn themselves unless repentance enabled by the Blood of the Christ intervenes.