After reading my post on “Lilith” and a follow-up post on “Mysticism,” Brian asked me this question:
“I am sorry, still, but in reference to your blog, question1, are you saying that it is not important to focus on this (mysticism) or are you saying that the bible incorporates mysticism?”
That’s a fair question and it’s always good to ask for clarification. I am saying that people use the Bible to support their mysticism (Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer, for one) but the focus in the Bible and on biblical Christianity is what we call incarnational living – i.e., putting our faith to work in our everyday lives and not try to find our meaning by “detaching” from everyday existence or seeing the truth as some hidden secret to be discovered by spiritual elite. The great Truth of Christianity is that the God of all the universe poured himself into human flesh to reveal to us all that we need to know to have a relationship with Him. In fact, Jesus refers to Himself as the Truth. The New Testament book, Colossians, puts it this way: “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation … For God was pleased to have all of his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” (1:15,19).
People often pursue a mystical approach so that they can get closer to God, The Bible teaches that God himself got closer to us. He did this through what we call the incarnation taking on a flesh and blood existence so that he could communicate clearly with flesh and blood people. Non-Christian mysticism becomes a trap because it causes us to pursue some elusive knowledge instead of choosing an everyday relationship with Jesus Christ. It has us chasing an unknowable idea of God instead of the God who has already made himself known.
Early Christianity actually battled a Greek philosophical system called Gnosticism that had captured the imagination of some Christians. It taught an elevation from this life and a pursuit of gnosis, knowledge through a series of levels that actually removed you from the burdens and responsibilities of everyday life. Gnosticism actually shaped some of the so-called books of the Bible that Christian rejected because they away from the human side of Jesus. In the last analysis, who best can help us–a God who understand us in every way by sharing our existence, or some distant deity that hides behind a curtain like the “great and powerful” Wizard of Oz? (I think you remember how that turned out.)