Has the Church lost sight of her mystical foundations?

Podcast. Back to faith’s mystic roots: Jules Evans and Mark Vernon in conversation

30 AUGUST 201982

28:59 / 36:37

A NEW book by Dr Mark Vernon, a psychotherapist and former parish priest, suggests that “something is going wrong with Christianity”. A Secret History of Christianity: Jesus, the Last Inkling, and the evolution of consciousness argues that “standard mystical theology” — the idea “that your life springs from God’s life and that this truth is yours to be discovered” — has been lost in the past 500 years.

The following is a conversation between Dr Vernon and Jules Evans, policy director at the Centre for the History of Emotions at Queen Mary University University of London and the author of The Art of Losing Control: A philosopher’s search for ecstatic experience.

A Secret History of Christianity is published by Christian Alternative at £14.99 (CT Bookshop £13.50).

The Art of Losing Control: A philosopher’s search for ecstatic experience is published by Canongate at £9.99 (CT Bookshop £9).

Click the play button above to listen to this podcast. You can also listen to the Church Times Podcast on Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify, and most other podcast platforms.


Listening this morning to this fascinating conversation on a Church Times Podcast, I found it both challenging and thought-provoking. Are we, in the Anglican Church, so bound up with rules and regulations that we lose sight of our deep mystical origins? Do our finite credal definitions bind us to something less than the fullness of life that Jesus calls us into as his followers into the Kingdom of God?

These two people in dialogue here made me re-think the need to more deeply connect with what it is that makes us fully human – that connectedness with one another that is the ‘esse’ of our humanity. Does being ‘en Christo’ really help us to understand our connectedness with ALL creation – not just that part of it that centres around our own Christian philosophy? Or maybe, the real question might be: Does our Christian understanding leave room for the existence of other Faith traditions besides our own – traditions which encompass the numinous and mystical in their own encounters with God in Creation?

The mere existence of other spiritual traditions should excite us to the possibility of God being ‘bigger’ than our own experience and understanding of the object of our worship and devotion – a Creator God who is above and beyond our limitations.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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