Friday, September 28, 2012

Christian Mysticism as a Direct, Transformative Presence-of-God Experience

Bernard McGinn

I just picked up a copy of Bernard McGinn's The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism. McGinn, arguably, is the greatest living scholar in this area. I became familiar with him when I was studying Christian mysticism at Northwestern U. with Richard Kieckhefer (esp. an independent study I did with Kieckhefer on Meister Eckhart).  

I'll be reading McGinn's book devotionally. It ties in with areas I'm invested in, experientially and scholarship-wise. These areas include:
  • encountering God
  • spiritual formation, transformation, and renewal
  • non-discursive experience
  • the argument for God from religious experience
McGinn describes "mysticism as that part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of what the mystics themselves have described as a direct and transformative presence of God." (xiv)

From about 500 CE on Christian mystical theologians spoke of "the knowledge of God gained not by human rational efforts but by the soul's direct reception of a divine gift." (Ib.)

My own scriptural studies, historical research, and personal and corporate experience tell me this is possible and true.