Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Assessing Mysticism by Doug Groothuis MP3 Audio

In this lecture, philosopher Doug Groothuis explores the area of mystical experiences and critiques non-dualism, Buddhism, and other non-Christian mysticism. He also examines the biblical view of religious experience in general, making the case that biblical mysticism is rooted in history, is personal, rational, moral, transcendent, transformative, and redemptive. He also includes a few helpful insights on the practice of yoga. This lecture is part of this series of talks.

Full MP3 Audio here.

Enjoy.

See also Unmasking the New Age by Douglas Groothuis.

31 comments :

soma said...

God is within each one of us so opening our consciousness to the unity of God's pure spiritual consciousness in Christian Mysticism reveals God in the condition of love, which is a kind of spiritual and physical unity.

truth4taiwan said...

Dr. Groothuis always gives thoughtful lectures. Great one here!

@soma

1) Where did you learn "God is within each one of us"? (By "each one of us" do you mean all people or believers only?)

2) Where did you learn "opening our consciousness to the unity of God's pure spiritual consciousness...reveals God"?

3) What is the procedure whereby one "open[s] [their] consciousness"? (How's it done? Who taught you how to do such a thing?)

4) Is such a "unity" merely a feeling and experience or both?

(I first checked out portions of your site and since this is a post about "Assessing Mysticism", I thought I'd inquire. I also used to be heavily into the allegorization and semi-mystical forms of so-called "Christianity".)

By the way, soma, did you listen to Dr. Groothuis's lecture? If so, is there anything you agree or disagree with in it? On what terms?

Thanks!

Davitor said...

Hi truth4taiwan, I listen to the entire lecture and noted that Dr. Groothuis tactically stays confined to very few verses of the Bible that go in accordance to where he want to critique mysticism. I really wish he would have had the courage to discuss other verse that don't.
1 Jn 1:5; Mt 6:8,32;10:30; Job 11:11; 34:21,23; Ps 14:2; 17:2 Prov 5:21; 15:3; Isa 29:15; Jer 17:10; Am 4:13; Lk 16:15; Acts 1:24; 1 Thess 2:4;Heb 4:13; Rev 2:23; Job 14:17; Ps 56:8; Isa 41:22-24; 44:6-8; Jer 1:5; Hos 13:12; Mal 3:16; 1 Sam 23:9-12; Mt 11:22,23; Ps 139; Jer 23:23; Isa 43:8-12; Ps33:15; 97:9; 139:13; Isa 29:15; Isa 41:22-27; Am 3:7
This is one area that I love about unity church because they love to discuss openly about these type of contradictions.

truth4taiwan said...

Hi, Davitor!

Are "soma" and you the same person? (Not sure if I'm addressing the same person, since my questions were directed to "soma".)

Regardless, I'd be interested to hear how the "unity church" that you "love" differs from every other denomination. But save that for another comment, if you don't mind (see below).

Dr. Groothuis nowhere denied spiritual experiences in his lecture, even for Christians. In fact, he says that he knows people who have had them. He was, however, very careful to show the distinctions between the types of spiritual experiences recorded in the Scriptures and the records of those who've experienced them outside of a Scripture-based paradigm.

I'm not sure how the verses you cited relate to his critique of mysticism.

More importantly, since you made the claim, please:

1) Share with us how the mysticism that you embrace differs or accords with what the Scriptures say about God-initiated spiritual experiences.

2) Share how at least two of the verses you cited don't accord with Dr. Groothuis's critique of mysticism. (But simply saying that he didn't discuss them because they didn't, essentially, say what he wanted them to say is just speculation, not evidence. Show us specifically how they don't accord. And, space and time permitting, share with us how you know that he ignored them.)

Many thanks!

Davitor said...

Sorry about truth4taiwan, I am not soma, I just wanted to address my opinion on the topic of mysticism.
Since you bring you bring up scripture as you only objective source of reasoning against mysticism can you please answer this one simple question.
How did the men and woman who wrote the bible were not in a direct communication with God?

truth4taiwan said...

Hi, Davitor!

If you don't mind, please answer one of my questions. Allow me to reword it a little:

1) Share with us a mystical experience/teaching that you think is legitimate. This way we can look at it and compare it with the Scripture records. (Dr. Groothuis mentions specific things related to that.)

Thanks!

-Joshua

Davitor said...

Joshua I post from my phone so I try to keep my replies short. Word definition is most important for example you use the word legitimate. Without us coming to a specific or exact definition of this word we could never come to agreement. I would describe my mystical experience as an awareness nothing more. Again we need to specifically define the word mystical so we can be on the same level of understanding. For example I would define a mystical experience as the men & women who wrote the Bible were some how inspired to write. Now you can see that unless we come to specific terminology we can never come to terms.

Russell said...

“I listen to the entire lecture and noted that Dr. Groothuis tactically stays confined to very few verses of the Bible that go in accordance to where he want to critique mysticism. I really wish he would have had the courage to discuss other verse that don't.”
“This is one area that I love about unity church because they love to discuss openly about these type of contradictions.”
Hi Davitor,
I don’t mean to be rude, but after reading many of your posts, it seems to be me that you, more than anyone else, have had to pick and choose verses to justify your views.

I will admit right off that I am not an expert of the Unity Church. However, I want to lay out a few of the views that I found associated with it. I don’t know how accurate my sources are, but the below beliefs seemed common in most of them. If I am in error please feel free to let me know.

-Jesus Christ was a mere man who possessed the “Christ principle”, which he obtained through many reincarnations (Jesus was Moses, David, and Elijah in previous lives).
-Humans have the potential for perfection.
-Humans are part of divine, universal conscious and divine by nature
-The Holy Spirit is an impersonal force
-Sin is an illusion, and therefore man does not require salvation
-Heaven and hell are states of mind
- Pain, sickness, and death are illusions.

If these are truly beliefs of the Unity church, then it’s blatantly obvious that one would have to stay confined to very few verses of the Bible that go in accordance with their beliefs. I am interested to see how the Unity church defends these doctrines, if they are true.

Thanks

truth4taiwan said...

Davitor wrote: "I would describe my mystical experience as an awareness nothing more."

Oh, well, why not use the word awareness instead of "mystical experience". But something tells me you don't really mean just an awareness, you mean some sort of experience (you saw and heard things), right?

Davitor wrote:

"Word definition is most important for example you use the word legitimate."

I think I defined how I determined whether an experience was "legitimate" (neither spurious nor false) was by comparing it to the biblical accounts.

An example of a false, non-God-initiated mystical experience that Dr. Groothuis gave was thatif the result of that experience was that you determine that you are 1 with God or that you are [g]od, then I can call that illegitimate.

I'd also like to see you respond to Russell above, specifically these two (which, in my experience, are teachings that I used to hear a lot):

-The "Christ Principle" / "Christ Consciousness"
"-Pain, sickness, and death are illusions"

Many thanks!

Davitor said...

Hi Russell Merry Christmas, you’re not within the topic but I will try to answer your question. I do my best to stay confined to objective truth whether relating to the bible or not. I also resort to using the bible if I’m speak to religious folk if not I try to stay out of it.
Was Jesus not a man? Did Jesus not asked to be perfect as your heavenly farther? Now most Christian try to justify by answering that this is only possible through Jesus, yet why are most Christian not able to and even worse make fun of those who try.
Are we not all son’s and daughter’s of God?
Is energy itself a personal force? Can you do anything without energy? Same with the Holy Spirit.
The belief that your separated from God is at the heart of sin, for this reason alone I can never harm you for it would be as harming myself or even more harming God.
Yes Russell, can you please tell the location of hell, and then tell me how wonderful it feels to know that God will be aware of everything that goes on in hell down to every hair on you head and every thought.
Yes, and unless you die to yourself you will never see eternal life.
Now that will end my defense for this truth for to defend it would mean that I do not see this truth as objective.
Now please if you have any more questions just Google unity church.
Thank you, Merry Christmas again.

Davitor said...

Merry Christmas Joshua, I think the best thing you can do is just Google Unity Church and find hundred of articles that are printed weekly as well as more than 20 shows that are broadcasted weekly.
But would you be able to answer my earlier question? I would simply ask it differently to see how you would answer it?
Did the people who wrote the bible not have a connection to God? If yes, how would you describe that connection?

Russell said...

Hi Davitor,

Merry Christmas,

I think you are missing my point. You routinely quote the Bible and Jesus in your comments (typically out of context). In this post, you made a comment that Dr. Groothuis was picking and choosing which verses to use from the Bible. However, you would have to do the same thing if you want to justify any of the claims that I made about the Unity church. Since you did not attempt to refute any of them, I have to assume that they are correct.

I also resort to using the bible if I’m speak to religious folk if not I try to stay out of it.

I don't understand this. Your church has views on God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, and you try to stay out of the Bible. I can understand this if you were simply speaking of a generalized version of God, but if you are only reading the Bible to try and find contradictions, how do you have grounds to even bring up Jesus and the Holy Spirit?

truth4taiwan said...

@Davitor wrote: "I think the best thing you can do is just Google Unity Church and find hundred of articles that are printed weekly as well as more than 20 shows that are broadcasted weekly."

I used to be part of a group of people who taught docrines similar to those that are part of the Unity Church. (I could name names, if necessary.)

@Davitor wrote: "Did the people who wrote the bible not have a connection to God? If yes, how would you describe that connection?"

The people who wrote the Bible were inspired. The mechanics of the "connection" are not something I understand, though I can understand and appreciate the results. Do you understand how the "connection" is made?

From the little I know specifically regarding the Unity Church it seems to teach:

1) Jesus' example of living is something we can attain through study and practice;
2) humanity is inherently good;
3) we are all divine;
4) the Bible is more an allegory than real history.

Are those fair summaries?

Where do the Scriptures teach these things?

Do you leave your front door unlocked at night?

I used to be in a movement that taught such things as "Christ Consciousness", and that every person is "divine" and that we're "all God's children". I understand the heavy emotional strings that are attached to those that believe those things. I've seen that, actually, being a child of God is title give to us as a privelege of our spiritual birth, not an automatic thing we get for being human.

And, by the way, the reason I wanted you to share your experience was to analyze it and compare it. Peter, Paul, and others have experiences recorded in the Scriptures. Dr. Groothuis admitted that Jews did and that Christians do and can have spiritual experiences, but the things they get from them and the end result is not some self-deification or oneness with "God".

Davitor said...

Hi Russell, Hi Joshua sorry I was away on vacation. Again pardon the small response from my phone. If the truth that Unity Church speaks of is objective truth with a capital T then to defend it would be irrelevant. For defending this Truth would mean that defeat is an option. Hence I will not repeat this so please understand. And yes Joshua just as you believe you won't need to lock your doors in heaven I won't need to lock mine. The only difference is that your waiting for God to wave a magic wand in heaven for it, don't wait too long.

God bless you both and Happy New Year.

Russell said...

Davitor,

So the "truth" of unity is not able to be defended? If a truth cannot be defended, then how can it be true? I understand that it is "true" for you (whatever that means), but that doesn't make it true in any real sense. Truth is conformity for fact or reality. Yet the beliefs I laid out for the unity church do not conform to fact or reality. So where exactly does that leave us?

Also, I am not sure where your idea of God waving a magic wand comes from. I don't think it's fair for you to misrepresent mine, or Joshua's position, when we have tried to accurately portray the unity school's.

truth4taiwan said...

Well said, Russell.

@Davitor

I didn't think it would be so hard to get a response from someone who believes that the Unity church is where it's at. :)

It also seems a little bit odd that you wouldn't answer almost all of mine and Russell's questions. And it was also strange that you would accuse someone of being wrong in their handling of something, yet show them neither how they are wrong nor for what good reason. Jesus, the Christ, our Teacher, would do so.

If that's how the Unity church spreads its "gospel", you're welcome to it.

If I might restate what I said earlier: Dr. Groothuis didn't deny that Christians and Jewish people (of the past) had spiritual experiences. The differences lies in the content. They didn't see themselves as "divine" after they experienced those things. They could clearly recall details of the experiences. They could, in fact, use words to describe them. And they were sane after it. (I might also add that it seems that none of them actively sought to have the experience. [Correct me if I'm wrong.].)

God is blessing us all now...

Davitor said...

Hi Joshua, well come back from Christmas. Again from my phone it is hard to have long responses. If the Unity Church is where is at, then God is not everywhere ;) so I’m sorry if I gave that impression. I would answer all your questions but you’re looking for some kind of mystical or out of ordinary experience which it is not. The only way I would describe it is as awareness, like a new way of looking at everything or like a new born baby without the need to judge. All you are looking for is some kind supernatural experience so that you can immediately judge this a coming from something other than God or from the devil. This is quite intriguing because it reminds me of the Sadducees and Pharisees and how they had Yeshua teaching and speaking to them about objective Truth but they could not accept it because it did not agree with the Torah (God’s word).The Sadducees and Pharisees were reading the Torah, everyday and conforming their lives to it. Were they not constantly hearing Yeshua tell them otherwise. The reason was that even if they agreed with what Yeshua was saying it would contradict the Torah and what it said about the messiah about the Sabbath and many other things that were not written in the Torah, how can they contradict God’s written word in the Torah. They could not let go of the worldview that the Torah of how the messiah would return like a King from the clouds and how he would liberate them from the Romans. And please ask any Rabi or Jew today why they can never accept Jesus as the messiah and see how they will come up with many versus in the Torah to show you why.
But all this is not wrong with a capital W for without Jews and the Pharisees and Sadducees and a betraying disciple we would not have a Crucifixion. And without Yeshua dying to himself we would not have an example. So by all means please continue in your quest to make the Bible your only worldview and never be free otherwise.

truth4taiwan said...

Hi, Davitor.

It seems to me that you have a very low view of the Scriptures, which is ironic because without the message contained in it you wouldn't know any of Jesus' teachings. I've already told you about 2 or 3 times that I was once involved with groups that teach things similar to what Unity church teaches -- even the word "Christ Consciousness" started to appear in sermons (although you refused to confirm or deny my list of Unity church teachings). What troubled me the most is that they began to veer more and more away from the Scriptures to a point where the Scriptures themselves became essentially none essential (that is, they held no purpose for "believers"). Instead, it was replaced by the latest "revelation" or "dream" that so-and-so had.

And your last sentence maybe wasn't meant to be insulting, but it was a little bit because I strive hard in spirit and truth to do as Paul mentioned he did, that is:

"So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man." (Acts 24:16)

Jesus / Yeshua (Hebrew: Joshua), the Son of God, has set us free, free especially from being at the mercy of the latest vision or "revelation".

And maybe you might read the Scriptures a little closer, too, if you still read them that is. Most of the Jesus' rebukes were regarding traditions that the religious leaders had, not Scripture. In fact, we find the opposite even in some instances!

"Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?" (Mark 12:24)

So, if you believe, as Unity church teaches, that everyone at this point in history is divine; if you believe, as Unity church teaches, that everyone is good; if you believe, as Unity church teaches, that the Scriptures are more allegory than real history, I think you are in error.

I believe in spiritual experiences and awareness and spiritual influence on the material universe, even on our own minds and hearts (that's how God changes us [Hebrews 10:16]). But Dr. Groothuis's lecture was on mysticism and so-called mystical experiences which are different from genuine, God-induced experiences.

Davitor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davitor said...

Joshua how can I have a low view of words when I have to avail of words to speak of the truth. But the truth does not need my words to be the truth. Just as the truth does not need the bible to be the truth. Are you not to see the Christ in all others? Are you not commanded to love everyone as yourself? I was created to fulfill this truth for to be an obstacle to this truth is a mysticism.

Russell said...

Davitor,

Can you provide a actual definition for truth? The truth in your last post seems to be in sharp contradiction to you idea of truth in previous posts.

Davitor said...

Russell, please do all the research you can about Objective Truth, but please don’t make it a personal belief.

Russell said...

Russell, please do all the research you can about Objective Truth, but please don’t make it a personal belief.

You've proven my point.

Davitor said...

Russell at a time at in human we all believed the earth was flat with four corners, objective truth proved otherwise. At a time in human history we all believed we are separate beings, separate from our source, objective truth proved otherwise.

Russell said...

At a time in human history we all believed we are separate beings, separate from our source, objective truth proved otherwise.

When was this proven?

truth4taiwan said...

Davitor wrote: "At a time in human history we all believed we are separate beings, separate from our source, objective truth proved otherwise."

Answer Russell's question.

If I may add:

It was a lot of word play passed off as "wisdom". Yet the sort of sentence above has much, much more in common with Buddhism than with Christianity.

Davitor, answer a question or two, OK?

1) What made the Bereans of "more noble" character?

2) Did the Pharisees have "Christ in them"?

Davitor said...

Did Jesus not say that one day we will all know plainly of the Father?
Can anything in our universe exist without energy? Where is this energy coming from? Does God have energy power plant that runs independently of Him.
If God knows the very next thought you are going to have, the very count of every hair in your head, every beat of your heart, can you think of anything closer to you than God. I tell you the truth not even Siamese twins are this close.
Nothing in our universe can be separated from energy.
The Berean Jews were more open minded that the Thessalonians especially because the followers of Yeshua were considered a Jewish Cult who did not obeyed the Sabbath. When the Thessalonians heard that the Jews in Berean were receiving and examining this new message of course they are going to try to stop them. Would you be noble to a worldview outside the bible? Would you not try to disrupt someone open minded about this worldview?
Was God not aware of every thought and of every hair on that Pharisees head? Was Jesus separated from God so that he can be separated from this Pharisees?

Russell said...

Davitor,

How does any of that prove pantheism? I don't see why God would need a power plant to produce energy. Why could He not just produce it? And how does this prove your point? How does God's omniscience, which Christians believes in, lead to pantheism?

Also, where do you get all this information about God and reality when you try to stay out of the Bible? You make a lot of claims about God and Jesus while discounting the source material.

Davitor said...

All idolatry is born when man need something conceptual or tangible to worship. To localize God has the same effect in your mind.

Russell said...

Davitor,

I think we have taken this discussion far enough. I don't feel like we are really getting anywhere on the questions I have asked. Still, thanks for the dialogue.

Davitor said...

Thank you Russell all the best.

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