I've been in a debate online with another Christian of a different tradition (I'm Catholic, he is Baptist, I think) regarding mysticism, specifically Christian mysticism. He stated that mysticism is inherently pagan and non-Christian, and attempts to use the term Christian mysticism are essentially modern attempts to take a pagan concept and "Christianize" it. I believe that it is not necessarily unChristian, if it is done in a Christian manner. Christian mysticism and pagan mysticism may not be the same thing in practice, though similar in concept, where a Christian is experiencing a fuller communion with Christ but through Christ working in him, and a pagan using ritual to try and attain some deeper sense of the supernatural.

Is there such a thing as Christian mysticism? I've heard the term "mystic" used to describe some saints of the Church. Is this a fluke or is it legitimate? Or is it referring to something other than mysticism?

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    This is a huge topic -- see this link for an overview of the subject on Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_mysticism. From a Protestant, evangelical point of view, I would make the observation that little of what that link describes derives from the Bible, but rather from tradition. From an evangelical POV, Christian life ought to derive as directly as possible from Scripture (systematic theology), which would preclude spiritual teachings that originate elsewhere and have no scriptural basis.
    – Roy Tinker
    Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 2:20
  • @Roy Thanks for the link, but unfortunately I already have looked it up (and referenced it in the aforementioned debate). My friend threw it all out due to its lack of Scriptural references (to his liking) and also considers it to be a shoddy article. So I am hoping for something else, if possible. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 2:23
  • By mysticism, are you referring to the belief that direct knowledge of a god can be attained through subjective experience or though intuition? That is the definition in English at least. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 10:17
  • @Jenny More or less. And in the sense that some saints of the Church, I have read, have been called "mystics of the Church". An example would be St. Teresa of Ávila. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 16:03

5 Answers 5


Christian Mysticism has a long and honourable tradition. You can read the histories of many holy Christian mystics. Wikipedia will give you a good starting point. Meditation is only one aspect. For a working definition, try: ""that part, or element, or Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of [...] a direct and transformative presence of [the Christian] God" (Bernard McGinn). In effect mystics are those who make real and experience for themselves things that many Christians take as theoretical or abstract - e.g. the presence of God, union with God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Here are some well-know people and practices that form part of the Christian Mystic tradition:

  • Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola
  • Meister Eckhart
  • Brother Lawrence
  • Julian of Norwich
  • Teresa of Avila
  • St John of the Cross
  • Thomas Merton

Mysticism tries to bring oneself to a union and awareness of and with God. It teaches you to believe (or understand) that you and God are one, that God is in you and you in Him, and to realize (or be aware of, is the better term) the presence of Him is in and of everything in the universe. Your consciousness (or spirit, soul) comes from the Life Force that is God, (but don't think of God as just a "Life Force", that's not Him at all, you watch too many movies) which means that makes everything living, a part of Him. Everything in the Material world and Spiritual world is of God. Mysticism also teaches that God did make man in the image and likeness of Himself. Meaning, He has the same human characteristics as we do, but infinitely more so. He has love, compassion, warmth, humor, irony- things you'd only think you'd see in a human being. But that is what makes humans so special, because we are literally the image of God. He is the Original Soul, The Being that always Was, always Is, and always Will be. Just like the souls you and I have. He laughs and makes jokes, He can feel, He thinks, He's infinitely creative, everything humans can do He can do infinitely greater. Don't think of Him as separate or different from you, He is exactly like you, only Perfect in Goodness (His Will Is only Good). This is why He so loves us and always has compassion for us.

Mysticism only tries to help you realize this concept that people have forgotten. Its the basis for life. Its in Scripture. It does state we are the Image of The Living God, we do have the same qualities as Him, He does infinitely love us, and we are a part of Him. It states that He is everywhere, in everything and of everything. It states that He is The Alpha and The Omega, The Beginning and The End, The First and The Last. He knows what we do, what we see, what we think, what we hear, what we take to heart, what we ignore in our hearts. Nothing is hidden from God.

The definition of Mysticism is really misunderstood. Yes, you probably shouldn't go so far into it if you don't want to, because you don't know what you might get into. But I'm telling you the parts and concepts of it that aren't bad, and are encouraged in the Bible. If you'd like, you can meditate, whether silently outdoors, or indoors while reading the Word. Meditation on the Word is appropriate, and is what you do every time you read the Word. You read it, understand it, take it in, and maybe believe in it. Meditation outdoors just brings you back to reality that you live in this huge vast never ending universe. You smell the fresh air, the birds chirping, the bees buzzing (unless it's winter), the feel of grass (or if you live in the desert, dirt), the beautiful sky (whether its blue or gray, God made it beautiful) the wind blowing in your ears and on your face. This is all meditation is, and it brings such a peace to you that you won't imagine. It silences all your thoughts, and brings you to reality that all is well, and you are alive, and there's a God who loves you and will never ever stop. It shows you what truly matters in life.

So, that's all mysticism is. Just trying to have you know God more. At least, that's my take on it.

Edit: I encourage reading the book, "Proof Of Heaven", by Eben Alexander. It's a #1 New York Times Best Seller and definitely worth the read. You might learn things that you've never understood before about the spirit, the spirit world, the physical world, and even the brain (how it doesn't produce consciousness, unlike opposite theories of other scientists). God Bless!


I myself am a Christian Mystic. I see God's fingerprints in all of nature and it draws man; not to itself but to it's creator. I believe it is the job of the mystic to call other believers to see the majestic and mysterious nature of God, to remind others to focus on the simple joys of life, to bring imagery to a flat and sterile church. Why is the burning of insence a good and beautiful thing, because as we see the smoke rising we remember that our prayers are like insence to God as they drift before his throne. Mystics also understand that the spiritual world's veil is there and thinner than most American Christians are comfortable with. We perceive evil and heavenly spirits, blessings and curses. We know and remind others to be mindful that surrounding yourself with negative people, thoughts, and environments open us up to demonic oppression. We must cleanse our hearts, minds, and space to reduce the square foot space of our battle ground with the enemy.

Christian mystics can and do believe and recite the confessions of our faith with conviction just as our main stream Christian brothers and sisters do. It is my hope that my fellow church members find their Christian experiences enhanced by walking this journey side by side with me…a mystic.

  • Welcome to the site! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": the help page and How we are different than other sites?. I look forward to learning more about this point of view. Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 0:40

Mysticism leads one to union or unity. There are many ways to achieve this union. Remember Jesus said,"I and the Lord are One." If one uses Christian symbols and the teachings of Jesus to achieve this spiritual state then it is called Christian mysticism. For more information visit: Christian Mysticism


It's a matter of definition.

A lot of Christians are confused by the term because it is very much misused today. They are right to condemn it the way that they mean it, as quite a few people call themselves mystics.

Christian mysticism is the belief that you can be closer to God by meditating on His word, but other people mean it a different way then they call themselves mystics. See Union With God for a brief overview.

  • I like that link, but it seems overly simplified. I'm currently reading "Guidelines For Mystical Prayer" by Ruth Burrows. I like the book, but it seems that the link you posted is only really scratching the surface. What's described in the link isn't wrong information (I know fully well the kind of contemplative prayer it is describing) but it seems to leave a lot out. Commented Sep 4, 2011 at 23:07
  • @sidran32 Yes I agree, it's just the only link I had to a reliable source. That was originally the 1st handout for a 7 week class taught by a client of mine. It hasn't been worked on much, but has the introduction for the subject.
    – 2tim424
    Commented Sep 5, 2011 at 7:34
  • Mysticism means a lot more than the definition you give. Please read some mystics. Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 16:41
  • @DJClayworth, please see the above comments. I answered this question when nobody else had, it was only an introduction to clear up the misconception about mystics, or are you unaware that there is allot of people calling themselves mystics that aren't doing anything like the ones on your list? Thanks for the down vote though. Bless you.
    – 2tim424
    Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 18:59
  • I downvoted because your definition of mysticism was wrong. If you want to edit the definition then I'll consider a reversal. Commented Sep 14, 2011 at 19:24

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