Christ Plus Mysticism

"Mysticism is still very much alive, and still using spiritual intimidation to demean the uninitiated. People today who claim to have had heavenly visions or spellbinding experiences are often simply puffed up with idle notions, using their claims to intimidate others into elevating them. As the apostle Paul told the Colossian believers, that kind of mysticism is the product of an “inflated . . . [and] fleshly mind.” Those who embrace it have turned from their sufficiency in Christ, who alone produces true spirituality. Don’t be intimidated by them.

Apparently the Colossian mystics claimed that anyone not having similar esoteric visions or embracing similar doctrines was disqualified from obtaining the prize of true spirituality. In reality they themselves were the disqualified ones.

Mysticism is the idea that direct knowledge of God or ultimate reality is achieved through personal, subjective intuition or experience apart from, or even contrary to, historical fact or objective divine revelation. Arthur Johnson, a professor at West Texas State University, elaborates:

When we speak of a mystical experience we refer to an event that is completely within the person. It is totally subjective. . . . Although the mystic may experience it as having been triggered by occurrences or objects outside himself (like a sunset, a piece of music, a religious ceremony, or even a sex act), the mystical experience is a totally inner event. It contains no essential aspects that exist externally to him in the physical world. . . . A mystical experience is primarily an emotive event, rather than a cognitive one. . . . Its predominant qualities have more to do with emotional intensity, or “feeling tone,” than with facts evaluated and understood rationally. Although this is true, it alone is a woefully inadequate way of describing the mystical experience. The force of the experience is often so overwhelming that the person having it finds his entire life changed by it. Mere emotions cannot effect such transformations.

Furthermore, it is from this emotional quality that another characteristic results, namely, its “self-authenticating” nature. The mystic rarely questions the goodness and value of his experience. Consequently, if he describes it as giving him information, he rarely questions the truth of his newly gained “knowledge.” It is this claim that mystical experiences are “ways of knowing” truth that is vital to understanding many religious movements we see today. [1]

Prevalent especially in the charismatic movement, modern mysticism embraces a concept of faith that in effect rejects reality and rationality altogether. Waging war on reason and truth, it is thus in direct conflict with Christ and Scripture. It has taken hold rapidly because it promises what so many people are seeking: something more, something better, something richer, something easier—something fast and easy to substitute for a life of careful, disciplined obedience to the Word of Christ. And because so many lack certainty that their sufficiency is in Christ, mysticism has caught many Christians unaware. It has thus swept much of the confessing church into a dangerous netherworld of confusion and false teaching.

Mysticism has created a theological climate that is largely intolerant of precise doctrine and sound biblical exegesis. Note, for example, how wildly popular it has become to speak scornfully of doctrine, systematic Bible teaching, careful exegesis, or the bold proclamation of the gospel. Absolute truth and rational certainty are currently out of vogue. Authoritative biblical preaching is decried as too dogmatic. It is rare nowadays to hear a preacher challenge popular opinion with clear teaching from God’s Word and underscore the truth with a firm and settled, “Thus saith the Lord.”

Ironically, a new breed of self-appointed prophets has arisen. These religious quacks tout their own dreams and visions with a different phrase, “The Lord told me. . . .” That is mysticism, and it preys on people looking for some secret truth that will add to the simplicity of God’s all-sufficient, once-for-all delivered Word."

John MacArthur, Christ Plus Mysticism

Comments

Happy new year all!

My pleasure to introduce the new member and contributor to the blog in his first blog piece. Hus name is Jesse. Perhaps we can prevail upon Jesse to tell us a bit about himself.
Anonymous said…
Jess: Ironically, a new breed of self-appointed prophets has arisen. These religious quacks tout their own dreams and visions with a different phrase, “The Lord told me. . . .” That is mysticism, and it preys on people looking for some secret truth that will add to the simplicity of God’s all-sufficient, once-for-all delivered Word."

You only have to look at the lifestyles of these people to see that they are antithetical to Jesus. Jesus chose to live in poverty. Millionaire televangelists exploit others to live in luxury. They HAVE to distort the words of Jesus to justify their wealth.

Pix
You are right Pix. it that is not mysticism.
Weekend Fisher said…
My brother used to say about the televangelists: "I want to meet one of those guys and just ask him: Do you believe in God? Really? Because if you do, how do you sleep at night?" (re: their habit of taking other peoples' money to make themselves rich)
That's a good one Fisher.

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