Smoking Flax

Every so often, our church takes a few moments for a short ceremony centered around one young man or another who is entering into pastoral ministry. So far this year, I think we’ve had three: an ordination of a current pastor, a pastor returning from our Pastor’s College in Maryland, and a pastor being sent to the Pastor’s College with the intent of training to lead a church plant. I think I can say with confidence now that no event convicts me more of my selfish ambition and pride than to witness the presentation of these men. Continue reading “Smoking Flax”

Mystic

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a mystic. But I’ve discovered that word makes some people, particularly non-charismatic evangelicals, nervous, so let me explain. By “mystic” I mean a person whose devotional life is characterized by intensely affecting spiritual experiences. These experiences may be in the realm of simple theological insight, or they may take more literary forms. At times they may cross over into the realm of prophecy; that is, dreams, visions, words, and phrases laden with theological context.

From a natural perspective, mysticism can come from two sources. It can be personal, or social: On the social spectrum, mysticism can be presented as something to aspire to. Some Christian traditions – the Pentecostals, the Orthodox, some revivalist traditions – present mysticism in such a way that it seems to be the only way to have a properly Christian devotional life. At the other extreme, some traditions, particularly the Reformed and Protestants as a whole, seem to perceive mysticism at best as something useless, at worst as something suspiciously unchristian, smacking of Papism, adding to scripture, even beckoning the demonic. On the personal spectrum, a person could be naturally predisposed to have certain kinds of experiences, or they could find themselves completely unable to do so, or they could be somewhere in between. (Please note that, for the sake of simplicity, I’m lumping what a person thinks about these things in with the social scale.)

The difficulty, of course, comes when a person’s natural predisposition doesn’t align very well with the tradition they find themselves in. Continue reading “Mystic”