Our previous post made some rather bold statements about mysticism, I now aim to make good on those statements.
Mysticism comes in two popular varieties, one with ties to Christian beliefs, and one without such connections. My contention is that at bottom, both are really the same anti-Christian practice.
The common elements of all forms of mysticism are exalting of experience over reason for the attainment of knowledge and looking inward to one’s self for ‘spiritual enlightenment.’ The problem with these two ideas is that they are both wrong.
When someone places their personal experience over reason as an organ of truth, they are automatically demonstrating an inordinate and unjustifiable amount of confidence in oneself. Why is the mystic so certain about his experiences? How is he confident in the truthfulness of the apparent content of the experience? What is his frame of reference against which to test such an experience? The answer is simple. The mystic unjustifiably relies solely upon himself. He makes himself the final arbiter all truth. He may talk about an external set of beliefs, such as Christianity, but in reality, he has placed his own experience in a superior position to all the doctrinal content of his professed belief system.
That this is true can be shown in many ways. First of all, how is the mystic so certain of his own ability to scrutinize his experience objectively? The only way to do so is to deny that his senses and soul are unaffected by sin and are thus in tune to some external spiritual reality. This is a direct contradiction of Scripture. Paul goes so far as to call down a curse on anyone, including angels, if they promote anything other than what is revealed in Scripture (Gal. 1:8). It doesn’t get much more mystical than angelic visitations!
A second issue with the mystic’s assumptions about himself is that they are inherently pantheistic. Now, this is no problem for a Hindu. But this is a huge problem for one who professes Christianity. Pantheism is the belief that God is everything. He is the sum total of all existence. Everything and everyone that exists is somehow a mode or manifestation of God. It is a small baby step to declaring one’s own godhood at this point. Many so-called Christian mystics have openly done so e.g., Kenneth Copeland, Benny Hinn, Morris Cerullo, etc.
Think about it, if all I need to do to get at ultimate spiritual truth is get in touch with my inner man (whatever that means!) – because there is within me (indeed within everyone) some inner light or ‘spark of the divine,’ - then I do not need an external God nor any external form of revelation. What is this but making oneself to be god? This is nothing else than the promise made to Eve by Satan – “You will be like gods” (Gen. 3:5) Only a pantheist can be self-consistent in the belief that there is some inner light or divine spark in all men. Since this is the plain underlying assumption behind all mystic experience, mysticism is, at core, pantheistic. A few Christian thinkers may try to deny this, but this contention is doubted by no serious student of mysticism.
Our next post will look at more reasons that plainly demonstrate the falsity of mysticism.