Christian mysticism is the growth of spiritual practices and theory in Christianity. It seeks to apprehend spiritual truths that are hard to find through logical means, usually by emulation of Christ. It has regularly been related to supernatural theology, mainly in Catholic and Jewish customs. Christian doctrine supports that God lives in all Christians and that they are able to experience God directly when they believe in Jesus (Underhill, 2012). Christians believe that God dwells in the hearts of all believers and that their body is the holy living place of the Lord. The Bible, which is the holy book for the Christians states that, Christ’s likeliness is obtained when one denies themselves everything and that the spiritual truth is determined when one allows the Holy Spirit to dwell in their hearts. The aspects and means on how Christian religion is practiced are varied and vary from delighted mental image of the soul’s spiritual union with God to straightforward petitioning reflection of Holy Scriptures. This paper covers the Christians’ religion and how they believe them to be supernatural beings.
The idea of supernatural realities has been commonly apprehended in Christianity from the 2nd century AD. It did not only refer to a spiritual way of operation but also, cognitive content that their rites and even their sacred writing had hidden meanings. The relationship between mysticism and the unfounded opinions of the Godly was initiated by the early Founders of the Church. These fathers used the word as an adjective in spiritual divinity and mystic reflection. In succeeding centuries, especially as Christian theology began to use Greek ideas to explain Christian beliefs; theological doctrines became determining force on Christian mystic, consideration, and performance (Holt, 2005).
Christian Mysticism in the Gospel
The Christian Holy Writings are the original history of the Christian faith. They present many major stories and ideas that became vital for Christian mystics to current and future generations. The way they carry out performances like the Holy Sacrament, Initiations, and the Prayers to God all turn out to be actions that have significant meaning to both their rite and symbolic morals. Further, scriptural narratives bring into view aspects that turn out to be the focus of reflection (McGinn, 2006). The death of Jesus and how he came back after the rebirth are two of the main and central forms of Christian mysticism; although Jesus’ conception, was through the power of the Holy Spirit through a woman, and his sudden emanation of radiance from the person of Jesus, in which he is in brief revealed in his delightful glory, also became significant images for reflection. Additionally, various Christian texts laid their foundation on Jewish spiritual basics. However, different authors indicate varying images and thoughts. The Synoptic Gospels, despite being dissimilar in many ways, introduce various paramount ideas. Among them are two of which are connected to Greco-Judaic concepts of understanding by virtue of being rational works: cleanliness of heart, in which Christians believe they will witness in God’s light; and penitence. This involves giving God a chance to judge and then change the way believers live. An additional main idea demonstrated in Synoptic in the wilderness, which was used as an image for the location where Christians met God when they felt lonely (Stark, 2008).
The Gospel of John elaborates on God’s magnificence, he explained about God applying light metaphors and in his appearance on the Cross-during adoration. John viewed the Cross as an illustration of selfless love. This love according to John is not so much passionate, but readiness to serve and be concerned about others’ wellbeing. However, when emphasizing love, John diverts the objective of spiritual development away from knowledge, which he discussed deeper in relation to Stoic beliefs concerning the function of reason as the fundamental rule of the whole world and as the divine principle in all human beings. Even if John does not pursue to a conclusion on the Stoic idea that this rule brought unity through the divine potential of humankind and it is in this initiative that there are Christian authors to present. Future generations will also move back and onwards in making decisions on either following the Synoptics knowledge or scripture according to John in emphasizing love (Podmore, & Nelstrop, 2013).
In Paul’s letters as outlined in the scriptures, he also focused on rational actions, though applying the dissimilar approach to the Synoptics, which connect restoring of the mind with penitence. In its place, Paul saw the restoration of Christians’ minds occurring as they reflect on the death of Jesus on the Cross. This was meant to open Christians’ minds to the beauty and accommodate Holy Spirit to live in their hearts. Similar to John, Paul was less concerned with knowledge and preferred to put emphasis on God’s plan, which is beyond man’s understanding as brought out through Christ. Additionally, Paul’s argument about the Cross held opposing views from John’s in that it didn’t emphasize more on disclosing God’s wonder and more on how it helped Christians’ minds encounter God and turned back to Him. Paul besides, illustrated the Christian living same as that of a sportsperson, which requires continuous practicing for them to win awards (Collins, 2008).
In Gospel, the mystery of Christian’s movements through women has been emphasized especially during the ministry of Jesus. He encountered many scenarios with women. At the well, he offered the Samaritan woman water of life and told her that she would never ask for water to quencher her thirst. In the incidence where an adulterous woman was weeping and washing His feet with her hair, people could not understand such a mystery. The scenario of Jairus’ daughter, where He raised her and raised Lazarus after encountering Martha who was his sister. He upheld the widow’s offering, recognized it as the major among other rich people. Jesus also healed the Woman who had bled for many years after she touched His cloth. In the gospel, He protected the woman who was to be stoned as a result of infidelity. Also after His death and resurrection, the first persons who went to his grave were women who realized that He had risen from death. Additionally, Jesus was born of a woman after the conception of the Holy Spirit (Collins, 2008).
Christian mystics have been expressed as following a threefold path equivalent to body, soul, and spirit. The 8th Ecumenical Council condensed the representation of the human to simply body and soul but in mystics a mold of three features. The three features later became physic, illuminative, and oneness in roman faith and uttered prayers, the wits, and the spirit in the eastern believers. The first phase; cleansing is where aspiring customarily Christian mystics begin. This feature stresses discipline, mainly referring to a person’s body; hence, it puts emphasis on praying at a specific time. This could be either by oneself or as a group, and in specific positions, mostly standing or kneeling down. It also emphasizes the need to fast and make voluntary contributions to aid the poor, the latter including helping the needy is referred to as the work of mercy (Podmore, & Nelstrop, 2013). This could be either spiritual or physical, such as nourishing the hungry and providing shelter to the homeless.
Purification, which forms the basics of the Christian religion is concerned with attempts to, as stated by Saint Paul, ended the activities of the body by the Holy Spirit. This is regarded as a result of the Spirit functioning in the human being and not an outcome of personal performance. In addition, Saint Paul stated that in his letters to Philippians, the being that initiated a good work in Christians would perform it to a conclusion in anticipation of the return of the messiah. In his statement, the activities of the flesh included not only external conducts but also those lifestyles, mindsets, obligations, infatuations, which counter themselves to proper being and live as a religious person both inside and outside view. Theologists illustrate cleansing as a consciousness of one’s own limitations and finitude, accompanied by self-discipline and denial. Due to its physical, disciplinary feature, this phase, like the whole Christian religious path, is in many cases referred to as ascetic. This term was derived from a Greek utterance, which means athletic exercise. As a result of this, in early Christian writing, main mystics were often described as spiritual athletes. This representation is also used a number of times in the gospel books to explain the Christian way of living. The requirement here is deliverance in the unique wisdom referring to a person’s eternal destiny, and also the healing in all sects of life, together with the restoration of spiritual, mental, and bodily wellbeing (Stark, 2008).
The 2nd phase; the path of light, has to do with the work of the holy spirit tending to increase knowledge in people’s minds, giving the deep perception of truths not only the one precisely and clearly communicated in the bible and other Christian beliefs, but also those that are naturally inherent and not through the scientific judgment, but to a certain extent in terms of lighting the depth features of reality and natural events. By so doing, God’s work is comprehended in everything that people go through. Theology describes it as manifested by awareness of an inspirational order and a revelation of a paradise and new earth (McGinn, 2006).
The third phase is generally referred to as the Mystical Contemplative Prayer. In the Western ritual, it is referred to as the incidences of oneself in various ways in union with God. The incidents of linkage varied, but it was first and foremost at all times related to bringing together Divine love, the primary idea being that God, the ideal righteousness, was known and felt by the believers. This is affirmed by the Gospel of John where he stated that God is love and those who stand for love abide in Him and God in them (Underhill, 2012).
The mystical reflective plea is the approval for which the followers of Jesus’ teaching and mystic anticipate. There is no personal effort that can create it. In Christian beliefs, this form of prayer contains three different features that explain that the prayer could be infused, extraordinary and passive. Additionally, it presents itself in one of the four varying levels, which are the silent prayer, the prayer of unification, ecstatic union, and transforming glorifying union (Holt, 2005).
Collins, R. (2008). The Four M’s of Religion: Magic, Membership, Morality and Mysticism. Review of Religious Research, 5-15.
Holt, B. P. (2005). Thirsty for God: A brief history of Christian spirituality. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Fortress Press.
McGinn, B. (Ed.). (2006). The essential writings of Christian mysticism. NY: Random House LLC.
Podmore, S., & Nelstrop, L. (Eds.). (2013). Exploring Lost Dimensions in Christian Mysticism: Opening to the Mystical. UK: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
Stark, R. J. (2008). Some Aspects of Christian Mystical Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Poetry. Philosophy and Rhetoric, 41(3), 260-277.
Underhill, E. (2012). Mysticism: A study in the nature and development of spiritual consciousness. Mineola, New York: Courier Dover Publications.