Christian Mysticism eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 407 pages of information about Christian Mysticism.

26. James Hinton.  “Mysticism is an assertion of a means of knowing that must not be tried by ordinary rules of evidence—­the claiming authority for our own impressions.”

Another poor and question-begging definition, on the same lines as the last.


The Greek Mysteries And Christian Mysticism

The connexion between the Greek Mysteries and Christian Mysticism is marked not only by the name which the world has agreed to give to that type of religion (though it must be said that [Greek:  mysteria] is not the commonest name for the Mysteries—­[Greek:  orgia, teletai, tele] are all, I think, more frequent), but by the evident desire on the part of such founders of mystical Christianity as Clement and Dionysius the Areopagite, to emphasise the resemblance.  It is not without a purpose that these writers, and other Platonising theologians from the third to the fifth century, transfer to the faith and practice of the Church almost every term which was associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries and others like them.  For instance, the sacraments are regularly [Greek:  mysteria]; baptism is [Greek:  mystikon loutron] (Gregory of Nyssa); unction, [Greek:  chrisma mystikon] (Athanasius); the elements, [Greek:  mystis edode] (Gregory Naz.); and participation in them is [Greek:  mystike metalepsis].  Baptism, again, is “initiation” [Greek:  myesis]; a baptized person is [Greek:  memyemenos], [Greek:  mystes] or [Greek:  symmystes] (Gregory Ny. and Chrysostom), an unbaptized person is [Greek:  amyetos].  The celebrant is [Greek:  mysterion lanthanonton mystagogos] (Gregory Ny.); the administration is [Greek:  paradosis], as at Eleusis.  The sacraments are also [Greek:  telete] or [Greek:  tele], regular Mystery-words; as are [Greek:  teleiosis, teleiousthai, teleiopoios], which are used in the same connexion.  Secret formulas (the notion of secret formulas itself comes from the Mysteries) were [Greek:  aporreta]. (Whether the words [Greek:  photismos] and [Greek:  sphragis] in their sacramental meaning come from the Mysteries seems doubtful, in spite of Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, p. 295.) Nor is the language of the Mysteries applied only to the sacraments.  Clement calls purgative discipline [Greek:  ta katharsia], and [Greek:  ta mikra mysteria], and the highest stage in the spiritual life [Greek:  epopteia].  He also uses such language as the following:  “O truly sacred mysteries!  O stainless light!  My way is lighted with torches, and I survey the heavens and God!  I am become holy while I am being initiated.  The Lord is my hierophant,” etc. (Protr. xii. 120).  Dionysius, as I have shown in a note on Lecture III., uses the Mystery words frequently, and gives to the orders of the Christian ministry the names which distinguished the officiating priests at the Mysteries.  The aim of these writers was to prove that the Church offers a mysteriosophy which includes all the good

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Christian Mysticism from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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