Dan McCollamJan 29, 2024
Should Christians use the words mystic or mystical?
Some of you have heard the story of how my firstborn son informed me at eleven years old that he saw and heard angels and demons. I was skeptical at first, but his detailed descriptions matched exactly what I had studied in my Biblical Theology college class. My son’s experiences awakened me to my own acknowledgment of the mysterious encounters I experienced in Christ. Before you might be tempted to dismiss what I am referring to, let’s remember that the most mystical experiences in human history are the virgin birth, the resurrection, and the ascension of Jesus Christ.
So, in this post, I want to share five credible Christian quotes on the term ‘mystic’.
- C.S. Lewis - The great writer and theologian C.S. Lewis said, “Discovering spirituality is like discovering you are in a boat. Mysticism is like pushing off from the dock. Since many leave safe mooring and perish in the waves, this is not to be done in a cavalier fashion---even though it can be exciting to push off into the deep. The issue is not of whether we should push off, for Christians must do so as well if they intend to get anywhere (and that is what boats are for), but rather of where you are going…Thus, we launch out with fear and trembling, but trust that He who commanded us to do so can calm the waves, and see us through to His real, safe port.”
- Theology Professor 1 - Bruce Demarest, Professor of Theology at Denver Seminary, says, :Great Christian realities, such as intimacy with God, spiritual passion, and prayer, must be framed in the mind and experienced in the heart. Christian mysticism, simply put, is the believers direct experience of God in the heart.” (Satisfy Your Soul, 1999)
- Chuck Colson – Former White House counsel and founder of Prison Fellowship, Chuck Colson said, “I no longer distrust the mystical. No, I’ve had plenty of experiences with it.” (Jubilee, 1998)
- A.W. Tozer – Beloved Christian author and pastor A. W. Tozer notes, “A mystic is a believer who practices the presence of God.” (Pursuit of God, 1948)
- Theology Professor 2 - Richmond Graduate University Theology Professor David Benner concludes, “A mystic is simply a person who seeks, above all else, to know God in love.” (Spirituality and the Awakening Self, 2012)
Even with this wealth of credible content and endorsement, Prophetic Company really wrestled before adopting the term “mystical” for one of our three dimensions of receiving spiritual information. That’s because we knew that we were risking being dismissed or misunderstood by others. Brad Strait, an ordained minister with a doctorate in theology said, “The term ‘Christian Mystic’ confuses many people, including Christians, as they fearfully push everything mystical into new age or eastern religion. In opposition, I think mystical Christianity has been an orthodox stream in the Bible and in the church since it started.” I agree with Brad, Christianity is clearly in its most essential theology a mystical religion. But, knowing the controversy that surrounds this use of language, why did Prophetic Company choose the term “mystical”? Because there simply wasn’t another word that so accurately described all that we were attempting to communicate.
Our founders wanted a term that described the interaction between humans and the spirit realm that did not discount other valid and accepted ways of connecting with God. For instance, if we had used the term “spiritual” some might have assumed that mystical encounters are “more spiritual” then hearing God through the written word or a sermon. That simply isn’t true or healthy to believe. We considered the word “celestial” but it could be easily misinterpreted and had the same sense of “higher than” that we were trying to avoid. Our team sought a term that uniquely described this interaction between God and man without making it elite or outside of the need for accountability and judgment. Our three dimensions of external, internal, and mystical are meant to create an even playing field of value, access, and accountability for each person’s vital God Connection (Read Bethany’s book Here: ).
You don’t need to agree with our choice, but I wanted you to understand that we didn’t choose this term lightly or without deep consideration. In my decades of ministry on six continents among more than seventy language groups, I have encountered many believers like my son and myself, who have encountered God in biblical ways that could only be described as mysterious or mystical. These people, when they try to speak of their experiences, often feel stifled, alone, and misunderstood in normal church settings. Our desire is to create a place within prophetic communities where believers can normalize, contextualize, and weaponize mystical experiences to bring glory to God and serve our King and His Kingdom. I hope this brief blog post has helped you understand a bit more why Prophetic Company embraces the terms “mystic” and “mystical.” I also hope that you can see a glimpse of the heritage and value that biblical and historical Christianity placed on these terms or ideas.
If you are needing help understanding your own mystical experiences or just want to learn more about the role of mystics in prophetic community, join us in-person, online, or by replay for the Prophetic Summit March 7-9 at Bethel Church in Austin, Texas. This is a 3-day conference focused on building prophetic communities where everyone has a voice, and everyone has a place. We will explore in depth each of the five-spokes that contribute to healthy prophetic communities including mystics. Early registration discounts end in 2 weeks. Use the coupon code: EARLY24 to receive $30 off general registration. Register here: https://propheticcompany.ticketspice.com/pc-summit
Blessings on your journey,