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Some themes in Christian Mysticism

Jon Zuck


There is an idea which is constant in Judeo-Christian mysticism, in a more "spiritual" sense, not seeking to use words, where words will surely fall short.  The Bible does not skimp on the idea which Catholic mystics sometimes call "theosis" and which Orthodox call "divinization."  It comes from our creation in the image of God in Genesis 1, and our call to grow into the dignity of that image, with its love and holiness throughout the rest of the Scriptures.  See Psalm 82, "mere men" are "gods" by virtue of being sons of the Most High.  The writings of St. John develop this much more in the NT.  John 1:12 speaks of a spiritual birth to becoming "children of God" born not by "human decision or a husband's will, but born of God" 1 John 3:1-2 goes even farther declaring that we who know him will go from being children of God now to being "like him," when he appears:  St. Paul also says that ultimately we will no longer be looking through "a glass, darkly" (KJV) but we will "know fully as we are fully known" 1 Cor 13.12, and in 1 Cor 15:22-28, one of the most grand cosmological portraits of redemption in the Bible, the picture is of all evil eventually being brought to nothing, until Christ is "all in all," which, whatever else it might mean, implies no separation between Him and the rest of his Creation.

theosis (in the eastern Orthodox Church) 

The Mystical Marriage

The "Divine Lover" theme, with its implicit promise of consummation, is also evidence of this ultimate plan. See the Song of Songs interpreted as God's love for his people, the prophets urging Israel to abandon "adultery" (idolatry), and return to her true Lover, and Jesus referring to Himself as the Bridegroom, and His followers as the Bride, throughout the Gospels.  Also, the conclusion of Revelation is the "Wedding Feast" of the Lamb of God (consummation of the romance between God and Man).  Many, many more examples.  Church history develops the theme in Traditional Christian circles (entirely apart from Gnosticism.)  Most notably, the Carmelite tradition of Sts. John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila comes readily to mind.

The Divine Family

St Francis of Assisi's famous external link Canticle develops the idea of a Divine family. Even the elements of creation are alive, and not only that, but brothers and sisters to us, children of one Father. One translation of the modern Franciscan rule of life is to "protect all life, animate and inanimate"

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content by Jon Zuck
page created 11 November 1998