Gospel Piety and Mystery

Monday, September 04, 2006


John Armstrong is a dear friend, daring thinker, and clear communicator though deep at times. As I've indicated in other posts, he has, more than any other Christian leader, taught me by living for me the gospel in action when it comes to handling those I may disagree with. I understand the "unity of the Spirit" when I listen to and watch John in action.

In this week's Act 3 Weekly entitled, "The Mystical Element in True Faith" I have received yet another awakening challenge to revisit again the mysterious element of my relationship with Christ. Like John I have walked down a variety of roads teaching different sanctification theologies and promising their subsequent results. From the "balanced Christian life" of Ryrie, to the "not I but Christ" theology of the Keswicks, to "kill sin or be killed by sin" theology of Reformed sanctification....there is some truth in all of it, and more truth in some than others. But there is truth in the statement, "In opposing experience, we have ended up with rationalism. In opposing rationalism, we can easily end up in in mysticism."

I heartily recommend about two readings of this article to get the point John seems to be after: the gospel recommends a true, mystical unity between God and us in a way that does not replace us with God (as Keswick theology teaches), or turn us into God (as mysticism teaches), but unites us in God and He in us (John 15:1 ff.) in such a way as to give living explanation to what Paul meant when he described "Christ in you, the hope of glory." John has attempted to recapture the mystery of my relationship with Christ from its normal bent toward rationalism, yet protecting me from my pendulum swing of mysticism in pointing me back to a biblical tension that is achievable, while increasing a hunger of "losing onself and finding oneself again in God."

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