Sunday, November 14, 2010

Outline for upcoming Lecture at Cherry Hills Community Church

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary

Assessing Mysticism

I. Isaiah’s Encounter with God (Isaiah 6:1-8)

A. Historical

B. Personal, relational

C. Rational, cognitive

D. Moral, emotional

E. Redemptive, salvific

II. What is Mysticism?

A. The direct experience of the ultimate sacred reality (however understood)

B. Types of mysticism

1. Nature (Wordsworth)

2. Monistic or nondual (Advaita Vedanta Hinduism, Zen Buddhism)

3. No-self (Theravada Buddhism)

4. Theistic: Jewish, Christian, Islamic (personal encounter)

a. Unitarian monotheistic: Jewish, Islamic

b. Christian: within and outside of the Bible

III. Assessing Mysticism (Col. 2:8-9; 1 John 4:1-6)

A. Nature: no Creator/creation distinction (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; Romans 1:18-21)

B. Hindu (one kind): Monistic, nondual: no encounter; loss of Atman (individual self) in Brahman (Universal Self). Ken Wilber example, John Horgan, Rational Mysticism (Houghton Mifflin, 2003)

C. Buddhist: No-self: no one is home; no encounter; loss of self in Nirvana

D. Monotheism

1. Jewish: Hebrew Bible and subsequent experiences

2. Islamic (Sufis in particular)

3. Christocentric, biblical (Colossians 1-2)

a. Paul on road to Damascus (Acts 9)

b. Apostle John on Patmos (Revelation 1:12-19)

c. Elements of biblical mysticism

1. Christ as only Lord, Savior, and Mediator (Matthew 11:27; John 14:1-6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 1)

2. Same elements as Isaiah 6:108

IV. Christian Discernment Regarding Mysticism

A. The dangers of syncretism (Exodus 20:1-3; Matthew 12:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6)

B. Yoga: Hindu mystical practice: elimination of the self, discovery of the Divine Self; should be avoided by Christians.

C. Buddhism: elimination of the self through meditation and action; should be avoided by Christians.

D. Dangers of “centering prayer”—emptying of mind, focusing on breath and mystical techniques to find God within, not through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

E. Fundamentals of Christian spirituality (need not be mystical in a dramatic sense)

1. Based on a true, rational, and pertinent worldview (Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 12:1-2; 1 Peter 3:15). See N. Pearcey, Total Truth (Crossway, 2004)

2. Justification by faith alone (Romans 5:1-2; Eph. 2:1-10; Titus 3:5-6)

3. Sanctification: growth in Christ-likeness and fruit-bearing by faith and grace (Ephesians 1:15-23; 3:14-21; Philippians 2:11-12; 2 Peter 1:5-11)

4. Glorification: the personal and cosmic culmination of salvation through God’s grace (Romans 8; Revelation 21-22)

5. Christ-centered and cross-centered (Luke 9:23-26; Colossians 1:15-19)

6. Spiritual warfare (Acts 13:1-12; Ephesians 6:10-19; 1 Peter 5:8-9)

Reading:

  1. Francis Schaeffer, True Spirituality (1972; Tyndale, 2001). A biblical view of spirituality.
  2. James Sire, The Universe Next Door, 5th ed. (InterVarsity, 2009). See the chapters on “Eastern Pantheistic Monism” (7) and “The New Age” (8).
  3. Doug Groothuis, Unmasking the New Age (InterVarsity, 1986); Confronting the New Age (InterVarsity, 1988); Jesus in an Age of Controversy (Wifp and Stock reprint).

3 comments:

chris said...

In your lectures will there be some sharing about Christian believers engaging in a invalid type of mysticism? Also, how does gnosticism, especially how it is infiltrating the church, relate to mysticism?

Thanks for sharing in your blog.

Chris White

chris said...

In your lectures will there be some sharing about Christian believers engaging in a invalid type of mysticism? Also, how does gnosticism, especially how it is infiltrating the church, relate to mysticism?

Thanks for sharing in your blog.

Chris White

Tricia said...

Dr. Groothuis,
I am a spiritual formation author/teacher and look forward to listening to this lecture once it is posted. I recently started back to school to get my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership studies at a liberal Catholic University. (I am hoping to do my dissertation on Christian mysticism and it's impact on leaders in culture).
I've been dumbfounded at how ill-equipped I am to speak intelligently about my faith in that arena -- the dialogue and need has changed much since I received my Master's 30 years ago. I have begun listening to your lectures from class at Denver Seminary. Would you say this is a good place to start? I don't have much time for reading right now given my heavy school workload, so listening as I go works best.
Thanks so much for your gift to the body of Christ.
Tricia Rhodes
www.soulatrest.com