Mystics And Christianity

When most people hear the word ‘mystic’ or ‘mystical’ they are more likely to associate the word with the occult, wizards, magick, otherworldliness, weird gurus or, in modern times, with the New Age movement. Truth is, however, that mystics have been part of every religion throughout history, even the Christian religion. The term ‘mystic’ has been degraded because mystics are often the ones who both establish new spiritual rituals and rites and challenge traditional ones. The word ‘mystic’ comes from ancient Greek and loosely means "secret" and "one who has been initiated". The word ‘mystery’ is rooted in the word mystic. A mystic is one who understands and initiates rites and rituals. Mystics are the seekers peeking beneath the skirt of routine to understand the source and meaning of routines, rites and rituals. By definition, mystics will always be part of every religion and church because there will always be a need for someone to establish, conduct, explain rituals and rites as well as explain the mysteries of spirituality.

From the earliest days of the Christian Church and continuing into the modern era, Christian mystics have played a significant role in forming contemporary practices and even sacred traditions. There have been times when Christian mystics have be very influential and times when they have been called heretics. Christian mystics have left historical insights into what being a Christian means and how Christians should worship Christ and practice Christianity. Once could say that when Christianity began to become stale and appeared to loose it’s way it is the mystics who seem to shake up the faithful, but usually not without conflict and debate.

By studying Christian mystics from the time of Jesus to today, one begins to understanding how historical mystics helped shape Christianity as we see it today. You can also see how both ancient and modern Christian mystics contribute to our understanding of spirituality. In many ways, all the visions, communications with God (and even the journeys with Jesus of Nazareth recounted in the Holy Bible) are mystical experiences. In spite of the mystical characterization of these words, Christian mystics are more likely to be concerned with the Spirit of the Word than with the letter of the word or religious dogmas.

In this context, mysticism means the use of mystical rituals and theology in interpreting the faith of Christians and their connections to God, held to be the Holy Father of the Messiah, Christ. In fact, a study of historical Christian mystics might even begin with the disciples. Disciples are those who follow the discipline of their spiritual leader. Understanding Christian Mystics The disciples of Jesus followed his teachings and accepted his explanations and instructions for inward-looking Christian monasticism which would become the basis for the earliest Christian Church. In the time that followed the crucifixion of Jesus, the early Christians were split between the Gnostics, which were more mystically-oriented with their focus on esoteric knowledge, and early monasticism that probably peaked with the Coptics in Egypt around 250 AD.

It would be the mystics Origen and Clement of Alexandria that brought about the movement of Alexandrian mysticism in the years just prior to the early monastic movement. Each of these early mystics would be influential for centuries to come. Clement’s belief in reason and the power of Christ to reveal underlying mysteries of the spiritual world through the Word is still a popular concept and was widely held by many people through the start of the middle ages. Origen is considered one of the Church Fathers, even today, yet his ideas about transmigration of souls and hints at reincarnation would not align with contemporary Christians of our day. Much of the time from the third century AD until the early middle ages, the biggest influence of the early mystics might be encouraging followers to withdraw from the world and study scripture as monks.

By the time of Gregory the Great (also known as Pope Gregory I) and Saint Bede the English monk in the sixth century, mystical ideas had fallen off in large part. Slightly mystical arguments became concerns that someone was becoming a heretic. This was an accusation hurled at Saint Bede on more than one occasion by his fellow monks. The high middle ages brought back mystics including Guigo II whom created the Lectio Divina (ladder) prayer which involves meditation and contemplation.

By the late middle ages, which included the Black Death and Great Famine of the 1300s, mystics often wrote extensively, but did not necessarily attach their names to their works for fear of persecution. A prime example is The Cloud of Unknowing which is a spiritual text about contemplative prayer. The continuing focus on contemplation, a distinct form of praying involving thinking about what the words of scripture mean and one’s relationship with God, comes from many mystics’ writing found in other places. Catherine of Siena (who would become Saint Catherine of Siena) and Francis of Assisi (who would become Saint Francis) are noted mystics from this era who performed great roles in the early Christian church.

Martin Luther, the monk closely identified with the Protestant Reformation, was greatly influenced by German Dominican mysticism. Luther’s influencers included Meister Eckhart, tried as a heretic for his reasoned arguments to refute Pope John XXII’s and others’ words about Eckhart’s religious writings. Luther’s translation of the Bible into common vernacular made the concept of God more accessible to common people and spurned the counter-reformation. Ignatius of Loyola (who would become Saint Ignatius) wrote Spiritual Exercises to teach people to connect with God through thinking, meditation and the mind itself. Miguel de Molinos was a mystic and advocate of Quietism who ended up convicted by the Inquisition in a largely political move and dying in prison. As one can see, mystics tend to shake up the Christian establishment but often not without great personal cost. Spiritual exploration, especially in the past, was a dangerous undertaking.

Modern Christian mystics might include the Quaker, Thomas Raymond Kelly who was an educator and author of books about evangelical concepts. Raymond was a pacifist and believed pacifism was a true component of spirituality and connection to Christ. Frank Laubach is the only American missionary to be honored on a US postage stamp, in 1984’s Great Americans series and a mystic called the apostle to the illiterates for his literacy program which focused as much on injustice and poverty (which he considered Christ’s commands) as religion. Without a doubt, mystics throughout history have impacted Christianity greatly.

Seeking spiritual answers is as old as humanity and often these seekers are called mystics. And, mystics within and without the Christian religions, will generally always be challenged by the traditionalists who feel the established rites, rituals and understanding of written spiritual rules is all anyone needs. Today, the traditionalists seem to have the upper hand, even turning the words ‘mystic’ and ‘mystical’ into negative terms. But, as history has proven, things will change, and it will be the mystics leading the way.

Psychics have often been associated with mystics and the mystical. If you would like some spiritual guidance or help with questions you might find Psychic Kali very helpful. She is also an avid believer in angels. Also, check out or Psychic Rene who is a professional psychic spiritual advisor. You can reach both Kali and Rene at 1-866-407-7164