Sunday, August 8, 2021

The Need for both the Mystic and the Theologian

The mystics, and I consider myself in that category, sought after relationship with God through surrender and the practice of various spiritual exercises to increase intimacy with God.  This lead to the development of specific practices such as Christian meditation, contemplation and the practice of silence.  Many of them historically cloistered and lived in community or even practiced isolation in a hermitage.  It makes me different sometimes and has been the latest development in my own spiritual life.

I recently had some time with a pastor who was the opposite of me in style.  While he would agree with many of the things that I profess, he is also what I would classify as a theologian.  He is very concerned with orthodoxy and a black in white biblical focus.  We had a great discussion on a variety of topics of faith and it was very productive.  It was apparent after our time together that we viewed the world through a different lens.

In reflecting on our time together I realized how much mystics need theologians.  Both are essential to maintain balance and orthodoxy.  Our faith must be based on scripture first.  While a mystic provides the soul and passion of the gospel, the theologian provides the guardrails.  The church has been fighting heresy since the book of Acts.  The early centuries of the church were rife with unbiblical teaching that had to be corrected.  The Church Counsels were held to settle orthodoxy and correct error.  The standard remains the test of how any teaching or practice lines up with scripture.  Your spiritual experience is not the authoritative standard for truth.  Man is very capable of instituting heresy into faith with great enthusiasm without testing it against the Word.

As you travel your journey you will experience many questions.  Your faith and hope will be tested.  The Word of God is your source to test all things.  It provides the precious promises for whatever you need.  It provides the confirmation of his faithfulness and character.  This will provide an anchor for your soul when you are tested.  Another consideration while secondary in many respects is our own theological filter.  If your theology differs than scripture, then you have bigger issues.  But there is great value in measuring your experience in light of your theological framework.  A final standard in measuring your experience is against historical Christianity.  The early church fathers and historical Christianity remain a great value in assessing your experience.  Ecclesiastes 1:9 tells us that, “…there is nothing new under the sun.”  All Christianity is indebted to the work of the early church leaders who defined the faith we inherited.  They faced many tests that challenged the scripture and early church tradition.  They were the closest to the era that Jesus actually taught.  The reality is that your experience is likely not new and there is a biblical precedent that has value.  It is important to respect each of these.  In your journey it will be easier to have guides who have come before.  They give a path that can offer great guidance.  Finally remember, it all begins and ends in scripture.

 

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