what is a christian mystic?

People use all sorts of terms to describe their personal Christian faith. Broadly, I am a Bible-believing seeker of the living Jesus. More specifically, I use the term “Christian Mystic” as C. S. Lewis did:

“one who seeks to experience the person, presence, and activities of Jesus.”

Foundationally, Christianity Today called Christian Mysticism “the science of the love of God,” and “the life which aims at union with God.”   (E. Petroff, The Mystics).

The term “Christian Mystic” confuses many people, including Christians, as they fearfully push everything mystical into new age or eastern religion. (As in any religious stream, mystical practices are broad and can push beyond what is normative, faithful, or best.) In opposition, I think mystical Christianity has been an orthodox stream in the Bible and in the Church since it started. Tim Keller defends a “radically biblical mysticism” a la John Owen and Jonathan Edwards—or what John Murray called an “intelligent mysticism.” I agree. I offer a deeper examination of the term “Christian Mystic” in a longer, more theological post, here. 

Mainstream mystical Christianity has always been about encountering the biblical Jesus in our lives. It is grounded in Scripture, and believes that experiences of God confirm the Truth of Scripture, and never dispute it. I use a simple experiential test: if it happened in the Bible, it can still happen to Christians today. Many solid Christians throughout history have been Mystical Christians: like Francis of Assisi, Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Saint  (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta, Thomas à Kempis, Saint Patrick, Blaise Pascal, Tertullian, John Bunyon, C. S. Lewis, Henri Nouwen, and Chuck Colson.

Pastor and writer A. W. Tozer notes,

    “A mystic is a believer who practices the presence of God.”

Like many other Christians throughout history, I believe God can be seen and heard and felt in one’s soul, each and every day. Every event, every encounter, every moment, every tear and smile–all are places where Jesus seeks to step into our lives. We just have to seek him, in prayer, study, and reflection — and then pay attention. Jesus says, “My  sheep know my voice and they follow me.”

I find Jesus calling me and showing himself in many, many places in my life, and I write about it. Join me as I seek to experience his person each moment and story.

Want more references on Mystical Christians? You can find more details, quotes, deeper theology, history and references on my post, “Theological Journeys”, here.

ccpc window
Lessons of light through colored glass at my church, Cherry Creek Presbyterian. Photo by John Gonzales.


  1. Hi Brad,
    I am enjoying your article on Christian Mysticism. I wondered, from where did you take the C. S. Lewis quotes? I thought I might lay my eyes on those portions of his writing as well. Thank you.

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