Christian Mysticism's Theologians And Medieval Legacy

The fourteenth-century mystics had distinctive approaches to their mysticism. Gregory Palamas, in the East, advocated withdrawal to seek God through prayer. He utilized Athanasius' dictum that "God became man, so that man might become God." He claimed that this dictum allowed for a type of deification of man that was distinct from pantheism. For Palamas, God remained God, while man partook of the divine energies. Palamas developed practices involving mystical recitations of holy words joined with a specific posture.
Meister Eckhart's view of the immediate knowledge of God, on the other hand, implied that the mystic actually became the divine nature. He believed that the "spark of the soul" given by God is God's image in man. It enables the contemplation of eternal truths resulting in "the birth of God in the soul." For Eckhart, this could only come about by renouncing oneself and this world. Union with God follows so that the mystic experiences God's life and the glory of His nature. In this union, the soul participates in the divine nature and becomes divine. This knowledge, Eckhart claimed, is too great for words and is known only in pure unity with the divine. Moreover, this "beatific vision" is short-lived and only becomes permanent in eternity. The pope later condemned Eckhart's pantheistic assertions christian mysticism.
Mystical theology did not disappear at the end of the medieval era; rather, it reappeared in subsequent eras of church history. Diverse individuals such as Ignatius of Loyola, Caspar Schwenkfeld von Ossig, and some English Puritans had mystical emphases.
Moreover, various Protestant traditions have practiced mysticism or have been open to mystical experiences. These have included Pietists, Quakers, Pentecostals, and charismatics. In addition, the "father of Protestant liberalism," Friedrich Schleiermacher, argued that religious experience is the heart of the Christian religion.
Mysticism in the twentieth century crossed religious and philosophical boundaries as represented by German theologian Rudolf Otto, American psychologist William James, Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, and French philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. All of these individuals were influenced by the fourteenth century's Christian mysticism.
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