The Brazen Serpent

I have a close friend with whom I spend quite a fair bit of time arguing. For some weeks now we have been debating the state of the Ghanaian Church. One particular point of disagreement is about Ghanaian Charismatism, particularly the so-called prophetic aspects of it. As I articulated in my most recent Pilgrim’s Penseive post, I think Ghanaian neo-prophetism, as we see it today, does not resemble biblical prophetism at all but rather local pagan practices. I am quite aware that is a pretty serious accusation but I fully stand by it for many reasons, some of which I will explain here. Continue reading “The Brazen Serpent”

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The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #25

Lost Direction

My first ever post in this series was more or less my manifesto. Coming from a Pentecostal/Charismatic background I’ve seen the movement’s brilliance but also its shortcomings, which I have personally experienced and been harmed by. I am not willing to throw out the baby with the bath water but the movement does need a reformation. On my part I do not hold any pretensions that I can save Pentecostalism but I do want to recover for myself a biblical vision of a charismatic faith. I’ve made quite a lot of progress pursuing some tough questions even though many still remain. Continue reading “The Pilgrim’s Pensieve #25”

The Christian Mystic VI

In my previous post I pointed out that the idea of communion with God is very important to Christian faith. When we refer to the common definition of mysticism as participating in ultimate reality, the Christian understanding of communion with God definitely has a mystical dimension. Continue reading “The Christian Mystic VI”

The Christian Mystic V

In the previous post I talked about how and why Jewish mysticism developed and I hinted at its significance for the early Jesus movement in shaping their faith. Since Christian faith lacked the Temple as a symbol of God communing with his people spiritual experiences were an important avenue for God to communicate with the new people of God through faith in the Messiah Jesus. So in the New Testament period Jewish mysticism underwent certain significant changes because of Jesus of Nazareth that led to a distinctively Christian form of mysticism. This is what we will explore in this post. Continue reading “The Christian Mystic V”

The Christian Mystic IV

In the previous instalments of posts on The Christian Mystic we took a journey through a general understanding of mysticism. Mysticism is usually described as a kind of religious experience. It is “religious” in the sense that through it one has an encounter with ultimate reality i.e. something greater than your senses could possibly reveal such as God. These phenomena, as studies suggest, are influenced to varying degrees by personal experiences and cultural context. This means we have to assess them carefully and not jump straight away to conclusions. As such I proposed a critical realist philosophy in making sense of the mystical. Some of these situations might be genuine, that is the experience is real, but not credible. So I proposed discerning between mystical experiences and what I call “spiritual experiences.”  Spiritual experiences, as I define them, are a subset of mystical experiences but they are inspired by the Holy Spirit of God and as such conform to the biblical worldview. It still means we have to critically evaluate and interpret them but we are using a biblical process to do so, with the assumption that it is possible God is actually communicating to us through some of these mystical encounters. This has finally brought us into familiar Christian territory. In this post I will be looking at the theology of the mystical and how that works out in the Bible. Continue reading “The Christian Mystic IV”

The Christian Mystic III

I ended part two of The Christian Mystic with the question, ‘What criteria should be used to assess mystical experiences?’ I believe we need to look at the worldview narrative as a starting point for coming up with this criteria. Continue reading “The Christian Mystic III”

The Christian Mystic II

In part one on mysticism, I said that as a phenomenon that is a legitimate part of the Christian experience, mysticism needs to be critically addressed. It should neither be entirely dismissed nor should all such experiences be accepted no questions asked. We need to find the middle ground. This is easier said than done but I discovered that it is doable. It is possible for Christian mysticism to be of benefit to the Church community without the practice being hostage to wanton subjectivism. To do this we need to start at the foundation of the phenomenon, understanding what it essentially is and means so we can understand how to deal with it properly. Continue reading “The Christian Mystic II”