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:: Thursday, June 19, 2003 ::

Prelest: The Search for Mystical Experiences

Last week I posted a three part series on the Orthodox critique of the Calvary Chapel statment of faith. These differences are not mere intellecual excersies, as some have said. They have real consequences. The following stories (found in this article) are examples of what happens to the piety and spirituality of people in churches who are disconnected from the historic Church:

"I remember Sandy, a fierce 10th-grade convert. While out on a "harvesting trip" at the local mall, she once chose to literally soil herself rather than locate a restroom and risk letting the couple she was preaching to escape. Later on, during an emotional prayer meeting at the church, she stood up to testify, stating ecstatically, "I wet my pants for Jesus!"

"Two other high-schoolers, Laura and Julianne, eager for a juicy mystical experience to tell the congregation, insisted that they'd witnessed the love of Jesus materialize before them in the form of a glowing ball of energy dancing before their eyes. They later realized it was a only a halo of light around a street lamp outside."

"We all prayed that an experience that overpowering, that mystical, that cool, might someday happen to us.
"Further swayed by [a youth pastor's] jaunty sermons encouraging our "servitude" to God and his insistent admonitions not to trust our "worldly desires," we became convinced that we were incapable of making decisions without God's help. We would pray desperately about everything: whether to go to college, which car we should buy, which person we should date. We even prayed at the counter in Burger King that God would guide us order the entr´┐Że he knew was best for us."

Compare and contrast this with what Fr. Seraphim Rose once wrote:

"If you look deeply at what [other people] in the charismatic movement are see that what they call a spiritual revival and a spiritual life is actually what more recent Fathers like Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov carefully described as deception, that is, a kind of fever of the blood which makes it look as though one is being spiritual when actually one is not even grasping spiritual reality at all. In fact, it's as different from true Christian life, which is reflected in these very basic Orthodox books, as heaven is from earth."

Trying to figure out "God's will for my life" is a very easy thing for the Orthodox Christian: "be holy as I am holy." Period. We don't look for "mystical experiences," and we don't attempt to coerce those outside into the Church by force. We follow the remedy that has been proven by millions of saints to purify both nous and body, leading it into union with God.

Huw wrote a nice piece on this when he said, "Some questions of a Christian's day-to-day living are echoes of these big questions. The answers are there: truth or falsehood. The choice is up to each of us - but the answers are either right or wrong.

Some questions are not echoes of these big questions. Should toilet paper wrap over the top or the bottom of the spool? Should I use a mac or a pc? Should I buy a transit pass this month?

The secret of happiness seems to me today to be learning not to confuse the two types of questions - for the one really isn't a question and the other really has no answer."

:: Karl :: 12:51:00 PM [Link] ::

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