Until now we have examined only one piece of the mystic puzzle, or one path that has led the church onto the road to the delusion prophesied by the Apostle Paul in Second Thessalonians 2:11-12,
“For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.”
Without question, the mystics of the early and late Medieval period, and their later cousins of the Counter Reformation serve as the “founding fathers” of today’s Evangelical mystic. Yet, they are by no means the only piece of the puzzle.
The Church is fighting a battle on two fronts. First, she must face the attacks from within, just as Paul warned the elders of the Ephesian church (Acts 20:28-31). The mystics are an illustration of this truth. Secondly, she constantly faces attacks from enemies without, a truth also bourne out both in Scripture, and in history. For now we will continue to examine the first field of battle.
Coming out of the Medieval age, the Renaissance thinkers rediscovered the writings of the Greeks. Rediscovery of the classics of Greek literature resulted in renewed interest in the languages of the Bible, and eventually resulted in the Reformation that hit full stride with Luther’s’ 1517 call for Church reform. Following on the heals of the Reformation was the scientific revolution, which saw an explosion in scientific discovery.
Finally, the Enlightenment was to result in the near deification of man’s reason; the Age of Reason had arrived. Man’s reason is seen as the foundation for all scientific discovery. Nothing would be beyond man’s ability to reason. An outgrowth of this Age of Reason was the rejection of the supernatural, and thus, much of Christian belief was placed under the microscope of man’s reason and rejected.
An outgrowth of the rejection of the supernatural came later with the rise of Higher Criticism. Higher critics sought to “demythologize” Scripture, which meant that anything outside of the natural realm was rejected, and Scripture was relegated to just another book of religious fables. The source of Ultimate Truth was placed in doubt.
Man is an intrinsically religious creature. God has created us to worship Him, and in humanity’s suppression of the truth there is a continual search to replace the One true God with a counterfeit (Rom. 1:18ff). In other words, man seeks to worship, and serve something outside and beyond himself, unless his understanding of a god, or gods, is directed toward humanity itself.
Although there are hundreds of differing cultures with their own religious beliefs and practices, it is an intriguing issue how similar those beliefs are. One issue is universal among these various religions; without exception they are all opposed to God’s revelation. It’s as if there was some unseen messenger that has given the various cultures their philosophical and religious beliefs. Maybe because there is.
From the beginning, Satan has cast aspersions on God, and His self-revelation. He first cast doubt as to the veracity of God’s message; “Indeed, has God said” (Gen. 3:1). He has sought to replace the truth of God with his lies; “you will be like God” (Gen. 3:4). That message is especially attractive to mankind in its fallen, and religiously hungry state. With the Enlightenment rejection of God’s word, a vacuum was created, not only within the Church specifically, but in Western cultures generally.
Without the solid foundation of God’s word, the Church lost its footing. Many once solid denominations rejected Scripture as the inerrant, infallible word. The eventual outcome was seen in their declining numbers. If only that were the worst of the situation. Without the word of God as guide, Christians were left to find another way to feed their spiritual hunger. When that hunger is not fed by the word of God, the counterfeiter is always ready to fill the void.
And so the mystics return.