Dave Brisbin | 8.12.18
As a church that believes in, teaches, and practices a contemplative way of life, we take a certain amount of criticism from certain Christian circles. And as we are about to begin a workshop series looking at the lives and practice of some of the great mystics of the Christian tradition, there have been concerns raised both online and in our community. Why? What’s the controversy in the church at large over this issue? Contemplatives and mystics both believe that direct connection with God is possible right here and now, but not in words or rational thought. Believing that God “speaks” in pure presence, we must learn that language—be purely present ourselves, “rest in God”—to connect with his spirit using the tools of silence and solitude, mindfulness, meditation, and non-verbal prayer among others. 

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We use the terms contemplative and mystic almost interchangeably, but a mystic is generally regarded as a contemplative who also has ecstatic spiritual experiences such as visions, dreams, and sometimes euphoric responses to God’s presence. The controversy stems from whether these practices are scriptural, whether they move outside or even against the Biblical framework. So being as fair and clear as possible, given our own point of view, let’s look at what contemplation and mysticism are and are not, and what exactly the Bible says about both. With no attempt to persuade, we won’t be giving answers, but the evidence may surprise you. And hopefully comfort or at least relax you.

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