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Friday, June 04, 2010 

Issues, Etc. Interview With Dr. Steven Hein On The Suject Of Mysticism

Last week on Issues, Etc. host Todd Wilken conducted three interviews with Dr. Steven Hein of the Concordia Institute for Christian Studies on man’s failed attempts to reach God. The three interviews covered the topics of moralism, rationalism, and finally mysticism. What a great series of interviews with the subject of mysticism being somewhat timely in light of the most recent posts!

What is mysticism you ask? Well, I had to look this one up myself since I have very little formal training in theology in the Lutheran Cyclopedia:

Mysticism (from the Gk. mystikos, “mystical; secret”

A. Term applied to a wide range of phenomena (e.g. demonology,* magic,* dreaminess,* weird experiences, occultism)

The Lutheran Cyclopedia further explains:

The goal of mysticism is the alleged intuitive and emotional contact with the Absolute (“that which is,” “the Good,” “God,” and many other aspects of ultimate spiritual values). In it’s practical aspects, mysticism is the attempt to apperceive, use, and enjoy ultimate values.

The Lutheran Cyclopedia also gives us an insight into Martin Luther and mysticism:

In his early period M. Luther* ed. Deutsche Theologie (see “German Theology”) and commended the work of J. Tauler* (St. L. ed., XXIa, 56). J. Staupitz* was a mystic. But Luther's system centered in the external Word of God and its doctrine of justification. He condemned the mysticism of Sebastian Franck,* A. R. B. v. Karlstadt,* T. Münzer, K. v. Schwenkfeld,* N. Storch (see Zwickau Prophets).

The Lutheran Cyclopedia concludes the entry on mysticism with a list of folks who are mystics to be condemned:

B. Other mystics include Adam* of St. Victor, Angela* de Foligno, J. Böhme,* Bernard* of Clairvaux, Bonaventura,* N. Cabasilas,* Catherine* of Siena, Clement* of Alexandria, R. Crashaw,* Dionysius* the Areopagite, (2), Gertrude the Great (see Gertrude, 1), Gregory* of Nyssa, Guyon,* Hildegard* of Bingen, W. Hilton,* F. v. Hügel,* Hugh* of St. Victor, W. R. Inge,* Jacopone* da Todi, W. James,* John* of the Cross, R. M. Jones,* Julian(a)* of Norwich, W. Law,* Luis* de Granada, Mechthild* of Hackeborn, Mechthild* of Magdeburg, M. de Molinos,* Richard* of St. Victor, R. Rolle* de Hampole, J. v. Ruysbroeck,* H. Suso,* Teresa* of Ávila, E. Underhill.* EL

Do you regular readers of POTF recognize any of names in the list of people to be condemned for their mysticism? Let me remind my critics, because I know I’m gonna catch flack over this, that this list isn’t mine but rather it is on a webpage bought and paid for by the LC-MS as well as published by Concordia Publishing House in their printed version of the Lutheran Cyclopedia. Just so ya know…

The interview with Dr. Steven Hein was good one in that Dr. Hein did an excellent job at explaining how mysticism is just one more of man’s failed attempts to reach God. Dr. Hein also explained the different ways mysticism manifests itself in Christian circles today and why it’s considered a “digression” back to heresies that plagued the early church.

Sadly, I understand that there are people who wish to reintroduce the very kind of mysticism back into the Lutheran church that the reformation confessors condemned in the sixteenth century (when mysticism was at the height of it’s popularity) while claiming that such was normative and always part of the historical church’s practices since the Apostolic age. Listen to the interview linked below for some great insight on this new/old heresy rearing its ugly head in today’s church. Thank you Pr. Wilken and Dr. Hein both for a great interview!


Issues, Etc. Interview With Dr. Steven Hein On Mysticism

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  • From The Haut South
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