As we live our lives as born-again believers, we are aware of the many battles that pop up concerning spiritual warfare. We occasionally come across another term that is directly related to what Jesus was warning us about in Matthew 24:24 when He said, “For false christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible.” This article will attempt to show you one of the many deceptions referred to as “Christian Mysticism.” I include my viewpoints in this article along with the material found at several spots on the internet including at http://frimmin.com/faith/mysticismintro.php and
http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-mysticism.html with the last one being more in line with Scripture and the first being pro-mystic.
Those that defend mysticism claim that God can neither be known nor understood through human reason but only experienced subjectively through various techniques. They say that mysticism is not only a vital part of the Christian heritage but it is actually the core of Christian spirituality. “Mysticism” simply means the spirituality of the direct experience of God. The goal of mysticism is union with God, as in the merging of one’s soul into God. This is an impossibility that actually reveals mysticism’s pantheistic roots, the idea that God is everything and is in everything. However good that may sound, we must know that the Bible says “no” to this because God is infinite and transcendent, absolutely separate from His finite creation.
Mysticism defenders can present themselves in such a seemingly smooth way by using near-truth-like statements as we see in the following method... They tell us that Christ is the sole end of Christian mysticism. 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 - thesis, divination, deification, and transforming union. A common misconception about mysticism is that it’s about “mystical experiences,” and there are many volumes on such experiences in religious literature. But true mysticism is not focused on “experiences” (which come and go) but with the lasting experience of God, leading to the transformation of the believer into union with God.
There are many mystical techniques that are gaining acceptance among evangelicals today. Centering prayer, as mentioned in my “Emergent Church” article, explains that, “Intimacy with Christ has developed gradually over the years, primarily through what Catholic mystics call “centering prayer.” Each morning, as soon as a person wakes up, they’d take time - sometimes as much as a half hour - to “center” themselves on Jesus. They’d say His name over and over again to drive back the 101 things that begin to clutter up their mind the minute they open their eyes. Jesus is their mantra, as some would say. The repetition supposedly fixates one’s mind upon Jesus. Yet it blatantly rejects His command not to use vain repetition in prayer as the heathen do (Matthew 6:7). Moreover, it’s constant repetitions turn prayer as a form of communication with Jesus into an act that bears no fruit in that Jesus ignores this type of ritualism.
“Ignatian Examen” is an occult visualization technique taught by Ignatius Loyola, who founded the Jesuits in the 16th century. His exercise teaches one to visualize oneself in the presence of Jesus and then interact with Him during His earthly events, such as at the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the cross and laying Jesus’ body in the tomb. This type of practice, however, is forbidden because it has one adding content to Scripture from his imagination and opens a person to demonic manipulation.
The term “Christian mystic” is an oxymoron. Mysticism is not the experience of a Christian. Whereas Christian doctrine maintains that God dwells in all Christians and that they can experience God directly through belief in Jesus, Christian mysticism aspires to apprehend spiritual truths inaccessible through intellectual means, typically by emulation of Christ.
The Bible tells us that Christ-likeness is achieved only by dying to self - not by self-effort at emulating anyone - and that spiritual truth is discerned through the intellect as guided by the indwelling Holy Spirit, who lives in all believers. The New Testament Book of Hebrews, starts by telling us that, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in times past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” This is why we have God’s word, the Bible and why Paul stresses the importance of discernment as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:10.)
There are many other spots that focus on the Biblical value of discernment, and its importance, in Scripture. In Philippians 1:9, Paul writes, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment.” Hebrews 5:14 adds, “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” In fact Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” And finally, your ability to discern what God wants is the purpose of all my articles and to help you in this battle of truth that we face each day.
I must remind you that in these days, we are continuously being filled with Satan’s schemes and ploys, including Christian Mysticism. In many ways, it is better described by what it is not. To describe what it is, they must use metaphors - the marriage of the soul to Christ, the death of the “old man”and birth of the “new man,” being the “body of Christ.” And they’ll twist Bible verses such as when Jesus proclaimed “I and the Father are one,” (Jn. 10:30) showing the world what the union of God and man can be. Christian mysticism is about nothing else but this transforming union.
In closing, as mentioned in other articles, these words can be so “Christian-like.” After all who doesn’t want to be like Christ? But by following the Bible and using discernment to fight deceptions as the Bible tells us, we can know that His word does not allow for any other God. It simply says, “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22, 46:9). And finally, your ability to discern what God wants is the purpose of all my articles and to help you in this battle for truth. And as John tells us, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Free to know and obey God as He wishes.