Mystical Theology

Greg Spalenka

Greg Spalenka

 “Mystical theology[i] is an experiential[ii] knowledge of God [iii]that comes through the embrace of unitive love[iv]” (theologia mystica est cognitio experimentalis habita de Deo per amoris unitivi complexum).

Jean Gerson quoted by William Harmless. Mystics (Kindle Locations 153-154). Kindle Edition.

Gerson recognized what has become obvious to us: that scholastic theology, in its efforts to be scientific, unwittingly severed the intimate link between theology and spirituality, between theologians’ public thinking about what the Church believes and believers’ personal encounters with God in prayer and worship. Scholastic theology seemed abstract, devoid of devotion, cut off from the heart and from the personal. As Gerson argued, “It is better to have the knowledge of God through a repentant affectivity than through an investigative intellect.”6 William Harmless. Mystics (Kindle Locations 182-184). Kindle Edition. [I am struck that in every book I pick up deplores, it its way,  the split/opposites/duality of belief & devotion.]

 Thomas Merton


[i] Theology here means a “speaking of God”

[ii] The saints use various names to describe these interior forms of experiential knowledge of God … They speak of contemplation, ecstasy, rapture, liquefaction, transformation, union, exultation. They talk of a jubilation beyond the spirit, of being taken into a divine darkness, of tasting God, of embracing the bridegroom, of kissing him, of being born of God, of obeying his word, of being brought into the divine cellars, of being drunk in a torrent of delight, of running into an odor of his perfumes, of hearing his voice, and entering into the bedroom, and of finding sleep and rest in peace in him.4 William Harmless. Mystics (Kindle Locations 158-161). Kindle Edition.

[iii] Where scholastic theology was public and exterior, mystical theology was personal and interior. Where scholastic theology focused on the mind, mystical theology sprang primarily from the heart, the affectus. William Harmless. Mystics (Kindle Locations 172-173). Kindle Edition.

[iv] The mystic possesses his or her knowledge of God not from books or academic study, but from experience, from the experience of being loved intimately, intensely, by God.”. William Harmless. Mystics (Kindle Locations 178-179). Kindle Edition.





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