Christians of the future will be mystics or will not exist at all

I just read a fantastic article by Carl McColman called The Hidden Tradition of Christian Mysticism
where he says;

Karl Rahner, one of the most renowned Christian theologians of the twentieth century, once famously remarked that “the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all.” For people whose experience of Christianity is, often, little more than a religion invested in obedience and in patriarchal morality, this seems to be a bold statement. After all, mysticism implies not legalistic religion, but living spirituality — heart-felt experience of the Divine, centered on a miraculous and joyful appreciation of the Spirit’s ability to heal and transform lives. Can Christianity and mysticism really co-exist?

It fascinates me that a consistent theme among burned out pastors and christians, is that they push back to Christianity’s ancient roots and themes. Even while I was burning out, I knew I was craving something deeper, more authentic and less structured and pedantic than the ABC’s of prayer and reading three chapters of the bible.

I started reading Henri Nouwen and was googling the practices of the Benedictines and chewing over the ideas of the desert fathers. I had begun to mediate and look for God within. For twenty years of my christian life, I thought that God was “out there”, but the contemplatives believed he dwelt inside of us, and that to commune with Him, we had to look within.

It all sounds a little “out there” to someone with a traditional western contemporary version of Christianity, but a quick flick through church history shows it has “always existed on the margins of the church” as McColman puts it. I mean, when you think about it, Christianity is more an eastern faith than a western one, and once the lens of western modernity is lifted, it does allow you “see” the possibilities much like seeing the 3D magic eye pictures.

He goes on to say

So mysticism is, in a very real way, Christianity’s best-kept secret. And even though some Christians of the third millennium remain suspicious of mysticism, many other Christians have begun to embrace the transforming power of such core spiritual practices as meditation, lectio divina (“sacred reading,” a meditative approach to the Bible and other wisdom texts), and contemplative prayer — the powerful form of prayer in which meditative silence is offered directly to God for the purpose of seeking and fostering deeper intimacy and communion with the Divine.

In all honesty, I think we’re all craving a deeper experience of the divine but the journey of discovery has been hijacked by an institutional, modern, western, attractional, business model of doing church, that hands us Christianity in a neat bubble-wrapped glossy package with the words on the back saying “This is guaranteed to work if you follow the following three steps to the successful Christian life”. Maybe the life of the contemplative is just what we need.

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How Churches Stop Christians Being Christian

Michael Frost, professor of Evangelism and Missions at Morling College and the pastor of a radical church Small Boat Big Sea in Sydney was interviewed by ABC Radio National. Here’s what he said about how traditional churches tie up believers with doing church stuff which actually prevents them from living an authentic christian life:

“I think that churches are made up of people who mean well, and who are genuinely seeking to live out their faith…. But I’d much rather fashion something which is more organic, more relational which frees people to be able to live their faith out loud, and large, and in a dynamic fashion, rather than kind of squeezing into a mould where six days a week they’re one thing and then on Sundays they’re another thing. ….some churches can simply, by their structure, fashion this separation between the sacred Sunday meetings and then the rest of life, I’m pretty critical of that. I’d love to see us start to unleash hundreds and thousands of followers of Jesus who are able to follow Jesus in all of life, not just say in a worship meeting.

I’ve been going on this journey for a long time. I’ve been the pastor of some traditional-style churches in the past, but I guess it was just a growing dis-ease that I found that it was as though the structure of church, as I just mentioned before, was operating against all the best intentions in the world. I mean, I would speak to people in my churches about the need for us to be generous, and hospitable, and to live our lives in close relationship with those who don’t necessarily attend church, to be committed to the poor and to the environment, to practice hospitality, I never get anybody say to me, “Oh, Michael, I don’t think we should do that.”

I mean everyone will agree with you, but the requirements of sustaining a lot of the institutional style Christianity actually draws people out of their world. It makes them too busy to be able to then practice genuine hospitality, and to partner with their neighborhoods and their communities. So I would much rather disassemble some of that, free people up, give them more time to be able to actually do what I think they’re intended to do, rather than just to be on committees and to set meetings up and to run from one kind of small group meeting to the next.”

What do you think? What’s your experience been? Do you agree with the prof?