Recently I did a podcast interview on Homebrewed Christianity with Tripp Fuller about my latest book Selling Water by the River. In the book I suggest that Jesus didn’t come to start a religion. We had a delightful time discussing all the intricacies of Christianity, Christ, and Spiral Dynamics (a topic I will explore more deeply in my next book). Some have listened to this interview or read my book and presumed that I am a mystic, advocating for a mystical vision of Jesus.
While I am not opposed to mysticism, I do not believe Jesus came to advocate for mysticism anymore than he did religion. Here’s why:
- Mysticism is largely focussed on the pursuit of and belief in heightened states of consciousness and the cultivation of yogic experiences. This includes but is not limited to the mastery of subtle body energies, aura detection, visions, lucid dreaming, psychic intuitions, healing, and a legion of practices designed to help practitioners experience oneness with God. Mysticism privileges direct experience over the articulation of doctrine. As a result, Christians who are big fans of their religion tend to find this threatening. I am not opposed to these things, but nor am I a practitioner of them.
- Jesus came to introduce us to an internal reality. He has that in common with mysticism. And while Jesus did mystical things (i.e. healing and miracles), this was not his stated purpose. His stated reason for coming was to introduce us to what he called the “kingdom of God” or “eternal life.” He framed these not as high mystical experiences or access to special powers, but rather as simple human capacities. These inner realities are marked by the experience of boundless joy, indestructible peace, and unending love in this life not just the next. Such experiences are not mystical in nature. Anyone, even people completely opposed to any form of mysticism, can experience these realities.
In other words, Jesus didn’t come to introduce a new religion or model the way of mysticism. He came to show us what it truly means to be human, to exist, an extraordinary miracle we take for granted.