Friday, March 26, 2021


I wonder if a tendency to mystical experience co-occurs with susceptibility to just drifting into the Spirit of the Age, or one of the spirits of the age.

In my Jesus people days we looked on that susceptibility entirely as a spiritual danger.  If you messed around with meditation, or with yoga, dabbled in occult practices, or were even too easily enamored of ecstatic Christian experience you were thought to be "opening yourself out" to unclean spirits, demons, or other unhealthy spiritual realities. Even playing around with them "for fun" was thought dangerous.  We took it seriously, and I do believe we went overboard with it.  We still do not celebrate Hallowe'en and go out at the times the children would come by for candy blackmail, but that is just habit at this point, and living in a 55+ community it is no longer an issue.

I don't know much about the possibility and reality of unclean spirits and demons acting, whether on you or in you.  I have read and heard stories I find credible, but I don't have any myself. They may have been there, or be there still, and I am simply oblivious.

Yet I now have a different worry. Mystical experience that people professing to be knowledgeable about has long been one of the ways that cults work.  There is a setup for a powerful experience, which they then interpret for you, and they slowly swallow you.  More subtly, I think even Christians who rely too heavily on their meditative practices, even when they call it a "discipline," have a susceptibility to suspect theologies and mixing in secular political or cultural elements as if they are neglected parts of the faith which the church at large must now expend energy on to incorporate into the faith going forward.

I relate it to a reliance on feelings. They believe they are sensing where "the spirit" is leading them or even leading the church (with the obvious conclusion that they must get on board with that). But the spirit is just a spirit of the age.  Is that the same thing ultimately, a spiritual being we don't have much understanding of, influencing a movement or a cause or even the entire age? I don't even speculate except to bring it up in case those of better discernment find it helpful.  But I don't rule out that destructive movements in the church might not just be temptations, but tempters.


james said...

It seems to me as though certain current and historical fashions are hard to explain without some kind of supernatural malign intervention.
That is not to say that people aren't capable of devising and propagandizing all sorts of wickedness -- we are. But some things seem so crazy that you wonder who could believe them. Recall the claims that Jews spread plagues by poisoning wells. That the Jews died too seems not to have been a relevant bit of data.
I've wondered from time to time: the Church is described as a bride, as an entity of its own, even though made of many people. If this is part of the nature of humanity and not a new feature of the redeemed-- that we can be individual and be a part of something living as well -- then what kind of entity would the company of fallen people be?

Assistant Village Idiot said...

An excellent point about the Jews. I long ago observed that when groups get paranoid about something, sooner or later they bring the Jews in as well. I submit that as evidence that something spiritual is up behind the scenes.