Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | June 6, 2008

Mysticism and Christianity

Thanks to Reformation Ink, I was able to find a link to BB Warfield’s Mysticism and Christianity.   This was an excellent summary on the differences between Mysticism and Christianity.  They are really two different religions.  The following is an excerpt from this work:


The distinction between mysticism of this type and evangelical Christianity, from the point of view which is now occupying our attention, is nevertheless clear. Evangelical Christianity interprets all religious experience by the normative revelation of God recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures, and guides, directs, and corrects it from these Scriptures, and thus molds it into harmony with what God in His revealed Word lays down as the normal Christian life. The mystic, on the other hand, tends to substitute his religious experience for the objective revelation of God recorded in the written Word, as the source from which he derives his knowledge of God, or at least to subordinate the expressly revealed Word as the less direct and convincing source of knowledge of God to his own religious experience. The result is that the external revelation is relatively depressed in value, if not totally set aside.


In the history of Christian thought mysticism appears accordingly as that tendency among professing Christians which looks within, that is, to the religious feelings, in its search for God. It supposes itself to contemplate within the soul the movements of the divine Spirit, and finds in them either the sole sources of trustworthy knowledge of God, or the most immediate and convincing sources of that knowledge, or, at least, a coordinate source of it alongside of the written Word. The characteristic of Christian mysticism, from the point of view of religious knowledge, is therefore its appeal to the “inner light,” or “the internal word,” either to the exclusion of the external or written Word, or as superior to it and normative for its interpretation, or at least as coordinate authority with it, this “inner light” or “internal word” being conceived not as the rational understanding but as the immediate deliverance of the religious sentiment. As a mere matter of fact, now, we lack all criteria, apart from the written Word, to distinguish between those motions of the heart which are created within us by the Spirit of God and those which arise out of the natural functioning of the religious consciousness. This substitution of our religious experience — or “Christian consciousness,” as it is sometimes called — for the objective Word as the proper source of our religious knowledge ends therefore either in betraying us into purely rationalistic mysticism, or is rescued from that by the postulation of a relation of the soul to God which strongly tends toward pantheizing mysticism.


This was a timely read considering the current discussions:  See comments



  1. Whatever Warfield thought here about mysticism, and the biblical, spiritual and theological mysticism I am speaking of, as so many in many different places and churches, even evangelical, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and E. Orthodox. I have brought forth well known Christians, and as I just wrote about in the last post and texts.


  2. Irish,

    If you are using the term mysticism to describe your view and it is not characterized by the definition above, then you must know that it is a term that is loaded with all kinds of connotations that cause those who hear it to think of this definition.

    If this is the case your going to have to clarify what you mean to enable me to get around my preconceived ideas that are inherent with the term.

    When you use the term are referring to the process of seeking God within (en theos or enthusiasm) apart from or in addition to Scripture?


  3. Eyes,

    If the Bible is comprised of “eternal” words, how is this reconciled with the fact that it was written by men who are temporary?

    Your statement seems to negate the fact that God used men to write the Scriptures. He used them in a fashion that was more than just “flutes” being played or “emenuensis” that we dictating what the Spirit told them.


  4. And Jesus Christ said:

    “Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her VOICE?” – Proverb 8:1

    “I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions” Proverb 8:12

    “I crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors”. 3

    “… I call; and my voice is to the sons of man”. 4

    are those writers of the gospel are the sons of man? yes

    “Heaven and earth shall PASS AWAY, but my words shall not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35


    “The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” – Proverb 8:22

    ” I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.” – Proverb 8:23

    “When he prepared the heavens, I WAS THERE: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:” – Proverb 8:27

    Because the word of God through our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of life.

    “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my NAME, he shall TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – John 14:26

    why? because they are written things we see but we did not see.

    and that’s why the word called “witness” is born in the four gospel.

    To SAY of what he SEE.

    “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall TESTIFY of ME:’ –

    and that’s the reason why you are called witness because the spirit of truth will tell you about our Lord Jesus Christ.

    And to know our Lord Jesus Christ is to know His Word.

    Have Peace


  5. S2C,
    I know that in the past the word “mysticism” has been very abused. However, in Christian circles, like Roman Catholic…Roman has for example their own discpline for this subject. It is true however, that with men like Tom Merton, it has been encroached with things like Zen, etc. This has not helped, but hurt both the west and east on this subject. However, in better times (past) the term has meant only a Christian aspect. Sometimes I forget how badly this term has been worked over, with many outside the Christian use. Sadly, both the Roman Church, and even the eastern Orthodox (though with them not nearly as much) the term gets fuzzy. I will try and keep to the best side and definition. The subject in my opinion is profound in the context of the Judeo-Christian truth and reality!


  6. Irish,

    I am still trying to understand the form of mysticism you are upholding…

    I’d like to quote another portion of Warfield to get your take:

    Let Jones worship the sun or moon, anything rather than the Inner Light; let Jones worship cats or crocodiles, if he can find any in his street, but not the God within. Christianity came into the world firstly in order to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inward, but to look outward, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain. The only fun of being a Christian was that a man was not left alone with the Inner Light, but definitely recognized an outer light, fair as the sun, clear as the moon, terrible as an army with banners.

    Certainly, valuable as the inner light is — adequate as it might be for men who were not sinners — there is no fate which could be more terrible for a sinner than to be left alone with it. And we must not blink the fact that it is just that, in the full terribleness of its meaning, which mysticism means. Above all other elements of Christianity, Christ and what Christ stands for, with the cross at the center, come to us solely by “external authority.” No “external authority,” no Christ, and no cross of Christ. For Christ is history, and Christ’s cross is history, and mysticism which lives solely on what is within can have nothing to do with history; mysticism which seeks solely eternal verities can have nothing to do with time and that which has occurred in time. Accordingly a whole series of recent mystical devotional writers sublimate the entire body of those historical facts, which we do not say merely lie at the basis of Christianity — we say rather, which constitute the very substance of Christianity — into a mere set of symbols, a dramatization of psychological experiences succeeding one another in the soul. Christ Himself becomes but an external sign of an inward grace…

    …The issue which mysticism creates is thus just the issue of Christianity. The question which it raises is, whether we need, whether we have, a provision in the blood of Christ for our sins; or whether we, each of us, possess within ourselves all that can be required for time and for eternity. Both of these things cannot be true, and obviously tertium non datur. We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose’s fragrance.


  7. Eyes,

    I agree alot of what you said…but is Scripture just as much God’s Word as it is Paul’s, John’s, Peter’s, Luke’s, Moses’, etc?


  8. Warfield’s use of the term “mysticism” is somewhat a caricature, at least in the bibical and Christian theological sense. For the most part those in both the Catholic west, also some evangelicals in the west too, and most (but not always all) in the E. Orthodoxy are not within Warfields use or definition. As I have mentioned people like Bernard of Clairvaux, of course St. Benedict, etc. are all modeled on the Augustinian use. Did you know that Augustine wrote a monastic order? Yes, he was perhaps the first in the west to seek to define and order such.

    The Orthodox tradition here is very vast and deep. The Christian and Orthodox east has their profound reality and history. Reading just things that someone like Warfield has written on this subject, is almost completely foreign to both the traditional Augustinian and Benedictine reality and history. Though as I said, since the 1960’s with Tom Merton, and even some E. Orthodox, the clear waters here have been muddied. Just like in theology, the truth must be worked for and brought into focus. Again, this subject has not been well understood, nor researched or written well within many conservative Christian circles, both Reformed and classic Lutheran.


  9. S2C,
    Myself, I do not consider the Quakers to be sound or orthodox on this great subject! Fox was/is the worst of the west in his time period. I guess this is the one Warfield sees as the mystic model? But this is not the Catholic west, nor Orthodox east!


    PS Jones followed Fox

  10. Irish,

    I must say that I am unfamiliar with the mysticism you are referring too. I believe Warfield is reacting to those in the tradition of the “third age of the Spirit” like Meister Eckhart and later Thomas Munzter.

    So, if your mysticism is not characterized by looking to the God “within”…what is it? Does Scripture remain the sole source for God’s special revelation in this age?

    Although, I respect Augustine and have read some of his work, my opinion of monasticism is hardly positive. The principals inherent in monasticism tend to seek to “climb the ladder” up to God through merits. Since Christ has come down to us we do not need to ascend on our own, but rest in Christ.


  11. S2C,
    If you read something about Benedictine monasticism, there you will see and find the largest western understanding. And also you should know that there are many Anglican Benedictine monasteries also, mostly in England. But just beware of some modern versions, which tend towards the oriental east, etc. But to my mind still perhaps one of the best reads and spiritual minds here, was St. Bernard of Clairvaux.

    I have been a student of western monasticism for years. And I should tell you (for what its worth) that I was a RC Benedictine for several years in my early 20’s. I am in my 50’s now. I did tell you I had an Augustinian conversion many years ago right? This really brought me out of Rome. But, I still value some important aspects to R. Catholicism.

    And Meister Eckhart and especially Munzter are outside the line of sound mystical thought with the classic monasticism.

    Finally, the latter element is simply not sound Christian mystical lines. The very best of Christian and any real mystical thought will always be both Pauline and Johannine!


  12. Irish,

    Yes, you had peviously indicated you were Reformed or Augustinian.

    Is ther biblical justification for the views you espouse on mysticism and monasticism? I’m not familiar with the writings you cited.


  13. S2C
    I had an Augustinian conversion years ago, since and have been seeking to grow and grace & knowledge. The journey will never end, even in the fullness of Christ!

    I am almost sure you can get some of the writings of Bernard of Clairvaux still, you would like his book> On Grace & free choice. He did follow Augustine somewhat. And ya have never heard of St. Benedict? He is called the father of western Monasticism.

    There is a whole theological culture and tradition that is very rich in the monastic west and east. I must confess that I don’t know the east here, as well as the west. But the east has some very profound mystic Christians also. Like anything there is the cream of the crop, and the so, so for both.


  14. And Moses wrote:

    God created the world in six days and rest on the seven day.

    what kind this day? is this a solar day?

    and Jesus Chrit said:

    Who can count raindrops or the sand along the shore? – Sirach 1:2

    How high is the sky? How wide is the earth? How deep is the ocean? – Sirach 1:3

    Who can count the days of eternity?

    and thats the reason why the earth was created billion of years ago based on our science and solar years.

    because the one who created on it is came from eternity so he count His day based from eternity also.

    How much is the 1 day of eternity to solar day? well the answer is in Sirach 1:8-9.

    The Scripture is a words spoken from eternity so you can’t contain the understanding and meaning on it in a size of earth, milky galaxy nor the size of universe we know.

    Have Peace


  15. Eyes, what is your Christian “persuasion”..i.e. fellowship and place to worship, is it R. Catholic? Orthodox?

    Fr. Robert

  16. you can visit the following sites:

    or to the near coordinating center worldwide which called “Member of Church of God International”

    I think they can answer your questions very well than me.

    Have Peace


  17. Eyes,

    I would not categorize Sirach as the Word of God. If that’s what you mean by Jesus Christ said? This book would be classified as apocryphal.


  18. Irish,

    Yes, but is their any biblical justification for monasticism or mysticism?

    Don’t they both necessarily cause the adherent to focus on himself rather than love and serve his neighbor? A quote that I do know from Augustine is that since the fall, we are “curved in on ourself” (nazel gazers). Don’t these just play into that natural condition?


  19. Eyes,
    I also asked this question, as you were using the book of Sirach. We use or quote it in the Anglican Church, but as it is a book of wisdom alone. The Roman Church as the Orthodox see it as full scripture.

    Fr. Robert

  20. S2C,
    Have you heard of the evangelical group called Taze? It is European, Edith and Francis Schaffer had both fellowship and influence here. It is semi-montastic.

    This would be a personal thing. I did not find the Benedictines to be “navel gazers” at all. In fact as I said, Calvin wrote in the very beginning of the Institutes, that to know God, we must know also ourselves. Whenever one spends time alone, and can listen to his own heart, mind, etc. Even with our depth of sin, he learns something. So yes, I think it can have some benefit.
    When we look at the history of Europe in the middle ages we can see that were it not for the best of the monastic orders, the Christian and western world view would not have maintained itself, etc. A read about the history of the Benedictines in Europe is worth the time. Not to mention the monastic theology, Augustinian, etc. Of course this is within something of the Catholic framework, but nonetheless.


  21. Irish,

    I haven’t heard of Taze. I have heard of Francis Schafer, didn’t know he was monastic. Although I appreciate your recommendations on further reading, I am still unclear what the biblical justification for monasticism is?

    Also, I am still a little fuzzy on the difference between the more tame mysticism and the form that Warfield is polemicizing against?


  22. S2C,
    The Taize Community, is the original beginning to what are now many communities over Europe mostly, but not exclusively. It was begun by Bro. Roger in France 1940. It is ecumenical, with both Protestant and R. Catholic’s living together. As far as I know it is men only? They live in a semi-monastic order. But I believe they have a Roman Catholic leader now, since bro. Taize (as he was called) was killed in 2005 during one of their worship services by some crazy woman with a knife. Sad!

    I think they are still ecumenical, open and not offically RC or Prot. But they do practice some form of liturgy. I think someone who was there, now back in England, told me that they are using some form of Orthodox worship? Not sure, I too should check on-line.

    Perhaps you should research both the Taize and the history of my points to mysticism? I think you will be surprised to find out just how much even people like the Schafers, etc. were involved. But it is basic to the Europeans mostly I think? I too will check in out more fully.


  23. If you don’t believe on the book of Sirach and Wisdom then you can check its meaning in other books such as Proverb and the four Gospel.

    Don’t compare it letter by letter but by its understanding.

    And Jesus Christ said:

    “I AM: and ye shall see the Son of man SITTING on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” – Mark 14:62

    Compare it to:

    “By your Wisdom you made us humans to rule all creation, to govern the world with holiness an,d righteousness to administer justice with integrity. GIVE ME THE WISDOM THAT SITS BESIDE YOUR THRONE …” Wisdom 9:2-4

    My friends, our Lord Jesus Christ is confused with you.

    You set aside other book an other witness and concluded that they are mystical or what else.

    and yet you always using a book of a certain person which says:

    2Cor:12:2: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

    is that statement are not mystical? Tell me, straight from your heart.

    and yet you don’t believe a word witness which came from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ?

    You don’t believe that you are the truth?

    The truth is you if he dwells in you.


  24. if you don’t believe on the books of sirach and wisdom then you can check it in the books of Proverb, four Gospel and other books which you recognized not letter by letter but by understanding.

    And Jesus Christ said:

    “I AM: and ye shall see the Son of man SITTING on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” – Mark 14:62

    compare it to:

    “By your Wisdom you made us humans to rule all creation, to govern the world with holiness and righteousness to administer justice with integrity. GIVE ME THE WISDOM THAT SITS BESIDE YOUR THRONE …” Wisdom 9:2-4

    My friend, our Lord Jesus Christ is confused with you.

    You set aside other books and witnessess because of the reason that they are mystical or what else.

    and yet you always refer a writings of a certain person which say:

    2Cor:12:2: I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

    Is that statement are not mystical?

    Tell me, straight from your heart.

    Don’t you believe that you are the truth?

    The truth is you if He dwells in you.


  25. Eyes,
    I believe in the mystical nature of the Christian’s relationship to Christ, but we still must at least seek to define it!

    “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a workman unashamed, keeping on a straight course the message of truth.” (2 Tim.2:15, lit. Gk.)

    Both the messenger and the message keep to the line of truth. That “narrow ridge”! And indeed the truth becomes part of the messenger.

    Fr. Robert

  26. Irish,

    Interesting information….however, would it be possible to engage in a discussion on the biblical justification of monasticism?

    It seems that there is a fundamental problem when Christians seek solitude and escape from the world. The Reformation taught that Christians did not need to escape from the world, but should live respectable life’s loving and serving their neighbors. It is difficult to follow this great commandment if there are no neighbors to serve.

    Isn’t monasticism paradigmatic of a Platonic worldview that has a low opinion of the “flesh” and the physical nature?


  27. Eyes,

    As a famous man once said, my heart is filled with sin and cholesterol…Yes, we are united to Christ through faith for our justification. This is a “mystical” or mysterious union. However, it does not give license for us to seek God outside of Scripture.


  28. S2C,
    Obviously there is no perfection to any monastic history or people. The world is fallen so. But, at least in the middle ages the monastery was where one went to get a good education, etc. And also think seriously about ones life, both moral and spiritual. And the monastery also did good things and works for the people on the outside, and the local community. Benedictines have always had open doors to let the anybody come and worship with them. And food stores for the poor etc. In my time we had an open kitchen also. Indeed the life of St. Benedict was profound! Many other Catholic orders follow the Benedictine rule. There are still many Roman Catholic Augustinian Orders alive and well today.

    This is just my mind, but I think the west needs to rediscover the monastery! It could be the shape for renewal and biblical, theological, and moral life again in the vacant west? I say this for both R. Catholics and the Orthodox monastic traditions. The idea of the Taize communities and their ecumenical nature is very thought provoking to say the least. Myself, in my 50’s, both of my son’s were born in my 40’s. So I am not celibate now. But I did value my time as a Benedictine monk (years ago).

    It was, in my time almost like military life, since I was a combat Royal Marine officer too (Gulf War 1). And after my monastic time.

    Fr. Robert

  29. S2C,
    Calvin’s Institutes 1 & 2 are very monastical from a western perspective.
    1. Without knowledge of self there is no knowlege of God.
    2. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.
    And Calvin is not sure which precedes?


  30. We are not talking outside the scripture but rather to fulfill and speak its message.

    diligent? even the gentiles is dilligent

    unashamed ? even a gentiles can do it.

    keeping on a straight course the message of truth?

    no man can straight his own course.


    Jn:15:5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can DO NOTHING.

    why? because “for the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an HOUSEHOLDER, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard” – Matthew 20:21

    Have Peace


  31. Eyes,
    My point to the text of 2 Tim2:15, is that we must always be learning how to keep both ourselves, “straight” and the “straight course” – “accurately handing the word of truth.”

    Let me also recommend Ford Lewis Battles book: Interpreting John Calvin. Battles writes: “…with the two “knowledges,” of God and of man, passes to the law, unwritten and written, and concludes with “another way,” Christ.

    …Unless he first looked upon God’s face, then descends from contemplating Him to scrutinize himself (Inst. (1539), 1, lines 30-32; Inst. 1.1.2 (1559); OS, 3:32.10-12


    As often as I descended into myself or raised my mind to thee….(Reply To Cardinal Sadolet, OS, 1:485.8-10.)

    These two movments of the human mind lead to the knowledge of God and the knowledge of ourselves, set in antithesis to one another: the gulf between the all-holy God and the gallen sinner which only the incarnate Son of God can bridge.

    (Page 149, Ford Lewis Battles, Interpreting John Calvin) See also, the Inrto, page 31, by John Hesselink – Ford Lewis Battles: The Catholic Calvinian. This was written because Battles died before the book could be published.


  32. *fallen sinner

  33. Irish,

    Where you say the west needs to rediscover the monastery, I would say the west needs to rediscover the gospel that fan the flames of the Reformation.

    Although, I admire Calvin tremendously and appeal to his works in many instances, he is still not infallible. Thus, I still think justification from Scripture is merited….


  34. Eyes,

    When you tell me to look to my heart and ask if I am the truth…this is outside of Scripture.


  35. S2C,

    The Reformation was historical, what the Church needs today is the recovery of Christ and His glory above and in Christology, and the Apostles Doctrine (this includes the doctrine of the Church..Acts 2:42).

    ‘Of the true Church, with which we ought to keep unity because she is the mother of all the godly.’ Calvin Book IV of the Institutes.

    Fr. Robert

  36. Irish,

    There is a mystical aspect of the faith for you…I agree that the Church is the “mother” of all the godly. However, this would apply to the invisible Church of course. (Although, I must qualify… with Augustine I believe…that there is at least a technical possiblility that one can be saved and die before becoming a member in the visible Church.)

    Now…how about Scriptural support for monasticsim and mysticism?


  37. And Jesus Christ said:

    Mt:12:34: O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.

    I am asking an answer which came from the heart because if your heart is sincere then you speak sincere also.

    Jn:14:6: Jesus saith unto him, I AM the way, THE TRUTH, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

    Jn:14:20: At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I IN YOU


  38. Eyes,

    I know of only 1 person whose heart is sincere. His name is Jesus Christ and it is His sincerity and perfect righteousness that I trust in for my salvation.

    When I trust in His righteousness God grants it to me. However, this is a total external act that must come from outside of me.

    Do you believe that your heart is sincere?


  39. S2C,
    Monasticism, as a way of life developed very early in the history of the Church. It is basically characterized by a life of self-denial that is followed by a group of so-called “religious” who wish to live in common, under perhaps a specific rule. However the monastic life of the East is somewhat different and individual. As early as the Council of Chalcedon it was necessary to place such groups and people under the authority of the bishops.

    The great age of monasticism in the west dates from the founding of the Abbey of Cluny in AD 910 through the 13th century.

    Vatican II states: “In the East and in the West, the venerable institution of monastic life should be faithfully preserved, and should grow ever increasingly radiant with its own authentic spirit. Through the long course of the centuries, this institution has proven its merits spendidly to the Church and to human society.”

    The pastoral council of Vatican II, well not infallable for those of us who are Anglicans, does have much merit, both in human ways and toward theology. I seen even some Refomed theologians quote from it in positive ways.


  40. S2C,
    The textual support for monasticism would come more from the aspect of the way our Lord and his apostles and disciples lived (together), etc. Also, some of both the Pauline and Johannine theological ideas about sin and the need to have some kind of asceticism…1 Cor. 9:25-27.


  41. Irish,

    I believe the passage you cited is an instance where Paul is speaking of himself. The entire chapter is the about his joy in not indulging in his rights as an apostle to marry, be supported by Churches he ministers, etc. And from Paul’s example it is not a call to retreat into a commune to live with other ascetics. He lived in the world and made tents for a living, so that he could bring the Gospel to the Gentiles. There are instances, like Colossians 2:20-24, where he advises his readers on the dangers of asceticism. Thus, I do not think a case for monasticism can be made from Paul.

    In regard’s to Jesus he was accused of being a “glutton” and “friend of sinners” by the Pharisees. He was probably not known to the Essene’s, because He engaged in the worship at the Jerusalem Temple, which they believed to be not holy enough. Thus, I do not think a case for monasticism can be made from our Lord.

    Probably the strongest evidence you proposed was from the examples of the early Church in Acts. However, not many reputable exegetes would agree that this behavior was to be normative for the Church. Much of the motivation is thought to be attributable to their expectation for our Lord’s return immediately. This expectation of an immediate ushering in of the age to come would definitely give one a perspective that selling all you had and living in a commune to await the Lord was the way to go. It may have been the reason for Paul’s collection for this church after facing a severe famine without any means to provide for oneself.

    This practice is never proposed in the imperative in the Epistles. Moreover, this seems to violate the principles of Christian liberty set forth by the apostle Paul in Romans 14 and other instances in Corinthians.

    Rather than finding support from Scripture, it seems that monasticism emerged from a tendency to lose the grace of the Gospel and to seek to earn salvation based upon your own merits. This, coupled with a Platonic dualism influential in the East (and later in the West) seems to be the best explanation for the movement. Wasn’t this the reason the hermits sought solitude?


  42. S2C,
    I can see that you have an aversion to monasticism. Perhaps because of Luther? I was a monastic for several years in my early 20’s. And I found the life both profound and of some benefit. (And I am very normal, and quite heterosexual…In fact both of my son’s were born in my 40’s, and I am now well into my 50’s) But it was not my life’s calling (few have this call). But as Jesus said: “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.” (Matt. 19:12)

    Also there are some who see a virginal or celibate meaning to 1 Cor. 7:25-40. These texts have been sadly overlooked too often!

    No, this gift and call, though perhaps small is real! But one does not need a life calling to enjoy and get some benefit in this place. The blessings of a retreat place for all Christians has been, and is very profound! This is another advantage to having monasteries. The beauty and traditional aspect is beloved in England and Great Britain! And even some in America have their beauty and place.

    * I have an several older books about both the monasteries, and their history, etc. One in my hand s right now: The Call of the Cloister, by Peter F. Anson (1956). As he says, “The history of the Church of England in the ninteeth century is characterized by the revival of the monastic ideal, which had been dormant, apart from a few isolated experiments, since the Reformation.” This book is about the many Anglican religious communities and monasteries. Mostly Anglican Benedictines.


  43. Sincerity is ONLY part of TRUTH.

    As what our Lord Jesus Christ said:

    Again and again.

    “Mike… Mike…..”

    “I AM the way, THE TRUTH, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” – John 14:6

    “At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and YE IN ME, and I IN YOU” – John 14:20


  44. When I trust in His righteousness God grants it to me. However, this is a total external act that must come from outside of me.


    Master Lord Jesus Christ cannot drive your car which is you INTO RIGHTEOUSNESS unless you submit or surrender Him the key.

    The key is faith.


  45. Irish,

    I hope there is no offense taken, because it is certainly not intended. I think it is fair to say that I have an aversion to monasticism. However, it would be in the same class as my aversion to veneration of icons, prayer to saints or transubstantiation. These are motivated by the ideal the Church throughout history has not always been successful in promoting healthy practices or teachings for her people. (I am not saying that it has always been wrong, there are several good things preserved by the early Church).

    I am just trying to have dialogue about the biblical justification for monasticism. You’re quoting of our Lord definitely support’s the notion that there will be some in the Church that can endure celibacy. It is interesting how the passage you cite from 1 Corinthians that Paul qualifies that he is not “speaking” with infallible authority on the subject. He is giving his opinion on the matter as one who was presumably celibate. Although, there is support for a limited amount of celibacy, this is far from full blown monasticism.

    As mentioned above, I do not think any biblical justification could be provided for monasticism. However, I suppose Christians are free to join or refrain from engaging in such an order since there is no explicit teaching on the matter. My primary concerns are the works righteousness tendency and the heavy influence by Platonic dualism. Yet, as one who has been in the middle of such a movement you should be able to confirm or deny if this assumption is accurate?


  46. Eyes,

    So you are saying your heart is sincere? I really like to think that I am sincere, but when I am honest with myself I see that I cannot trust in my own sincerity. Thus, I must flee to Christ who can save me from my sinful nature that prevents me from being sincere.

    Also, I agree that the righteousness that is need for us to stand before God is obtained through faith. However, this righteousness, which is necessary to stand before the Father, is not a process that Jesus “drives” me to be transformed. No, it is a declaration imparted to me at the moment I believe. Thus, although I remain sinful until the day I die God sees me clothed in the righeousness of Christ granting me access to heaven.


  47. S2C,
    No I am offended. I think there is both biblical and historical support for monasticism. Not that subscribe to all of it myself. But the practice is vaild. That Augustine wrote prehaps the earliest western rule, is very interesting and important I think. You should at least check it out?

    Your platonic dualism point might be made for some form in the middle ages, or even with Rome somewhere? But I never saw it in my time. And by the way, and for what it is worth, I spent over a year in the Pontifical institute in Rome, as a young Benedictine brother.

    One thing we must allow, and that is some form of development and historical depth and growth in many things in the Church. We must beware of a kind fundamentalist attitude, that does not allow for theological thought and even growth, or better understanding as the Church moves thru time and history. I know this is not easy sometimes, but better than to stagnant and remain sluggish in our time. My thoughts at least.

    And the use of Icons can be like any other thing in the Church, for the good, or not so good. Note, how really visual the human being, or soul is. We cannot bury our heads in the ground in the aspect of human psychology. This does not mean an open road here, but it has been proven to be again valid.


  48. Irish,

    Sorry for offending you.

    As for icon’s I agree with Calvin that our minds are human idol factories:

    Thus, the implementation of icons or images only feeds into that innate tendency.

    Also, the WLC Q&A 109 summarizes the Scriptural support to preclude the use of images in our worship.


  49. S2C,
    Here was supposed to be a “not” in that first line sorry! lol


  50. * see I cannot think or type tonight..again THERE, was NOT supposed to be, etc.

  51. The issue is really a personal one, at least to me. Calvin was a great man, but a child-man of another time for certain. Would ya agree with killing Servetus?


  52. I am glad you are not offended and it was just a mix up.

    From what I know about the death of Servetus, I believe it was a tragedy. An example of why the Church and State should remain seperate in this age.

    Calvin, although a great Reformer and minister of the Gospel, was a just a mere man full of sin. Nonetheless, the fact that men still sin does not negate their ability to speak the truth about God’s Word. Otherwise, I would certainly not spend anytime on this blog 🙂

    What do you mean by a child-man?


  53. S2C,
    I meant a child and man of his age and time is all, death for bad doctrinal heresy was sometimes common in Calvin’s age.

    I believe in the depth of sin also, my own heart, etc. But there should be some sense of faith and the new nature to overcome, 1 John, etc.


  54. And Jesus Christ said:

    “Mike… Mike…Remember …”

    “SANCTIFY them through thy truth: thy word is TRUTH.” – John 17:17

    It is the TRUTH that makes you sincere and not you.


  55. Irish,

    So do you deem this incident as nullifying the validity of anything Calvin said?


  56. Eyes,

    I would not say that the truth makes you sincere, but Christ:;Hebrews%2010:14;&version=47;

    In declarative sense we are righteous in Christ, thus able to stand before God. However, we are still sinful in our selves and not sincere.

    The latin term for this is “Simul Iustus et Peccator” or simultaneously just and sinful. We are just through an alien righteousness that comes from outside of us, from Christ.

    If you were sincere in yourself then you would not need Christ….


  57. S2C,
    Not at all, but I do think his fear of God is somewhat timebound. Not of course the transcendence of God, but the idea that God “made” some men (many and most according to some) for damnation and judgement. Somehow like C.S. Lewis, I think those that are lost choose not to love or want God. I would be closer to Barth here.


  58. Irish,

    I am curious what your disagreement, then would be with the Calvin quote above?

    It seems to me, an insightful assessment of the human mind. We are idolaters and are always seeking to master God by fashioning him in an image to view. We would rather see than just sit and hear God speak to us. Faith comes by hearing (Rom 10:17), not by viewing an image.


  59. Yes “it is a declaration imparted to you at the moment you believe.”


    Because Jesus Christ is urging and asking you;

    “Have faith in God.” – Mk:11:22

    “Where is your faith?” – Lk:8:25

    Why again?

    Because if that thing is came from Him then He will not asking and urging His disciple.

    Faith is to submit or surrender yourself so that Master Lord Jesus Christ can drive you into righteousness.

    But it does not mean that when you are “driving” with Master Lord Jesus Christ you cannot commit a sin.

    You still commit a sin because the flesh is weak but your spirit is willing, all you have to do is to watch and pray. – Matthew 26:41

    and why you are worrying about sin when you are in Christ already?

    don’t you have faith?

    “Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk?” – Lk:5:23

    and the loud voice is heard again and said:

    “Mike… Mike … ”

    “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.’ – John 8:36


  60. In declarative sense we are righteous in Christ, thus able to stand before God. However, we are still sinful in our selves and NOT SINCERE.

    I can’t understand, Yes we can commit a sin because the flesh is weak —

    but saying NOT SINCERE is too much.

    sincerity is a feeling which came from the heart, it is a naturalness of a being.

    Yes we lie sometimes due to circumstances but that is not our naturalness.

    Because “a good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good…” – Luke 6:45


  61. S2C,
    I can agree with Calvin in my own heart, but I have not found all people that I have pastored to be “just Like me”, or Calvin. Sin affects people in different ways.


  62. Eyes,

    I think we are having a commincation failure on some level.

    I will be posting on the human condition of the heart tomorrow. Maybe this will help to explain what I am talking about and we can pick up the dialogue after that.


  63. Irish,

    I agree that sin affects people in different ways. However, wouldn’t you agree that all have sinned because they are sinners? Sinful by nature and thus reject any notion of Pelagianism.


  64. S2C,
    Yes, the Pelagians were condemned theologically at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, 431.


  65. Eyes,

    Not sure if you had a chance to read the latest post yet. Maybe this would help.

    Also, Isaiah 64:6 even our righteous deeds are filthy rags. It is only in Christ that we are accounted righteous.


  66. Why Jesus Christ know their heart?

    “I WISDOM dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.: – Proverb 8:12


    When wisdom ENTERETH into thine HEART, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; – Prv 2:10


  67. And Jesus Christ said:

    “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” – John 7:38

    Water is life but Christ is life also.

    One atom of oxygen is your faith.

    Two atoms of hydrogen is your work.

    How these two elements bond together to produced water, the same is your faith and works bonds together as a fruit of Christ which is a vine.

    Because “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” – Matthew 7:18

    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” – John 15:1

    Believest unto this.


  68. Eyes,

    So are you saying that you only bear good fruit?


  69. So are you saying that you only bear good fruit?

    And Jesus Christ said:

    “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Lk:5:32


    Mt:3:8: Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:

  70. So are you saying that you only bear good fruit?

    it’s not me who say that I produce or bear good fruit.

    It’s written in the scripture.


    “And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail.” – Lk:16:17

  71. S2C,

    What do ya make of this statement?

    “I may be in error, but I cannot be a heretic; the former is a matter of the intellect, but the latter is a question of the will.” – Meister Eckhart


  72. Eyes,

    I would say that we are righeous only in Christ. We are sanctified and set apart able to stand before God only by standing in Christ.

    On the other hand, we are still sinful in ourselves yet through the aid of the Holy Spirit are being transformed day by day into new creations. This tranformation will not be complete until we die.

    I recommend you read these for a fully explanation:

    Do you agree with this?


  73. Irish,

    I don’t think I get it. What do you think it means?


  74. S2C,

    It would mean that a heretic is one that is willful in their error, verses one who errors mentally with the mind alone. The differnce would be within the heart, and not just the mind. That would be my take at least?


  75. S2C,

    Would it not be possible also for someone to hold mentally to correct doctrine, but have it never really touch their heart of hearts?


  76. S2C,

    Matt. 7:21-22 are perhaps with also 7: 13-14, some of the most sober statements made by our Lord!


  77. S2C,

    This is not a personal shot across your bow, just thinking, etc.


  78. Irish,

    I believe their is a difference between someone who is in error and someone who is a heretic.

    A good example would be the adminstration of baptism. I believe that those who do not baptize infants are in error, but if they affirm the apostles creed, nicea, etc they are not heretics.

    However, both are sinful behaviors whether it is that of error or heresy. The difference is that those in error who believe the Gospel will be saved. The heretics deny the Gospel, which is the only source of their salvation.

    To a certain extent we being fallible are susceptible to some form of error. We are just unable to figure out what it is.

    Was Ekhart tri-partite? See this


  79. And Jesus Christ said:

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the WILL of my Father which is in heaven.” – Matthew 7:21

    As what I said:

    Water is life but Christ is life also.

    One atom of oxygen is your faith.

    Two atoms of hydrogen is your work.

    How these two elements bond together to produced water, the same is your faith and works bonds together as a fruit of Christ.

    As Jesus Christ is a VINE.

    in short,

    a TRUE “righteous only in Christ” should have a combination of one atom of oxygen and two atoms of hydrogen which is your faith and works.

    But don’t worry the drama of life of those people in Christ is too BROAD.

    “And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. – Lk:16:9


    “… for the children of this world are in their generation WISER than the children of light.” – Lk:16:8


    “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” – Lk:16:10

    One of the point on it my friend is;

    you are tempted in order to be tested.

    You commit sin in oder to be trusted.

  80. Eyes,

    I don’t think I follow what you are saying…did you read the excerpts from the confession? I think those would be helpful.


  81. Eyes,

    How would interpret Psalm 15:

    1O LORD, who shall sojourn in your tent?
    Who shall dwell on your holy hill?
    2He who walks blamelessly and does what is right
    and speaks truth in his heart;
    3who does not slander with his tongue
    and does no evil to his neighbor,
    nor takes up a reproach against his friend;
    4 in whose eyes a vile person is despised,
    but who honors those who fear the LORD;
    who swears to his own hurt and does not change; 5who does not put out his money at interest
    and does not take a bribe against the innocent.
    He who does these things shall never be moved.

    How would you answer the Psalmist question “Who is worthy to dwell on the Lord’s holy hill?”


  82. You commit sin in oder to be trusted?

    and Jesus Christ said:

    “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she LOVED much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.” – Luke 7:47

    if you owe a lot from that person can’t you feel love to that person?

    as the song goes “The more you heat, the more you love”

    as heat equal to sin.

    and you will say, that is an act of abuse when you always commit mistake or sins.

    and the answer is;

    but it will owe you a lot which will develop into guilt and into love.

    And you can’t describe the works of love nor can you teach the right thing to do.

    The only mistake of Judas Iscariot is he lose his heart or courage for repentance.

    and you will ask, how many times did our Lord Jesus Christ forgives our sins?

    “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” – Matthew 18:22

    but I say unto you;

    “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:” – Matthew 6:14


  83. How would interpret Psalm 15:?

    ahh Master Lord Jesus Christ is already answer that question long time ago brother as He said;

    “He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.” – John 6:56


    “the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the SON ABIDETH EVER.” – John 8:35


    “Wherefore by their FRUITS ye shall know them.” – Matthew 7:20


  84. Eyes,

    So who is the Psalmist talking about?


  85. I already answer on it brother.

    How would you answer the Psalmist question “Who is worthy to dwell on the Lord’s holy hill?”

    The answer is clear.

    It’s the SON ABIDETH EVER.” – John 8:35

    And if you want to dwell that holy hill also then;

    “He that EATH my FLESH, and DRINKETH my BLOOD,



    I IN HIM.” —– John 6:56


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