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Neologisms for Evangelicals

MYSTICA SCRIPTURA [(mis’-tik-uh) (skriptər’ uh)]

[Mystica:1275–1325; Middle English mystic; Latin mysticus; Greek mystikós, equivalent to mýst (ēs) an initiate into the mysteries + -ikos -ic; akin to myeîn to initiate, teach] [Scriptura: 1250–1300; Middle English and Latin scrīptūra writing. See script, -ure]

  1. The teaching that in Scripture all things are not plain, nor sufficient, nor alike clear unto all, but that God’s Word needs to be enhanced by extra-scriptural rituals, practices and ceremonies (i.e., meditative techniques, art, dance, drama, chanting, music, etc.) that induce and alter religious feelings in observers and participants. In an ecstatic state induced by these mechanical means, worshippers may experience altered states of consciousness that they believe will enable them to penetrate the spiritual mystery which surrounds humanity’s existence.
  2. The doctrine that superior spiritual insight may be discovered by employing mystical/spiritual disciplines (e.g., lectio divina, prayer labyrinths, etc.) to uncover deeper meaning in selected biblical texts. To this end, contemplators will practice solitude and silence with a goal of creating a tabula rasa (blank slate) in which state of mind they expect God will deliver to them exciting fresh revelations. These new insights are considered as enabling initiates or adepts to attain higher levels of spiritual consciousness as they penetrate the mysteries of the immense universe in which humanity lives, moves and has its being. The secrets thus attained are personal and known only to initiates.
  3. As a sacred text, the Bible as significant only as it coexists within the vast canon of cross-cultural mystical writings of mankind throughout history; a guiding canon which includes mystical writings from all ages and from all religions, but especially those originating during the Medieval period of Christian history. See Inclusiva Scriptura.
  4. The Word of God as incomplete in itself, needing to be supplemented by spiritual encounters and experiences which it is believed will validate, enrich, or illumine Scripture. See Sola Experientia.

Related Words: mystic, mysterious, mystical, occult, orphic, secret

Quotations and Illustrations:

“We’re using the cathedral [St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, Colorado] in new ways, making it more inviting and even sensual. It’s meant to celebrate and bring alive all the human senses. We’re trying to explore new ways of worshiping…. We have what everybody else is wanting. We have the theological depth and breadth of a 2,000-year-old spiritual tradition…. Yet we also have exploration of new language and religious experience…. We’re trying to explore new ways of worshiping.”[1]

“The only way to bring the different Christian traditions together in worship is to tone down doctrine and emphasize ceremony and ritual…. Religious ritual without doctrine ultimately becomes self-mystification, and points in the same direction as the “religious” use of L.S.D.: toward feeling and “experience” which cannot be interpreted or communicated.”[2]

“People have been trying to follow God for thousands of years, Christians for the last two thousand years. Maybe somewhere along the line some of them had come up with ways of connecting with God that could help people like me.”[3]

See also: Altered States: A Different Gate

1. Peter Eaton quoted by Electa Draper, “Finding faith in the wilderness,” The Denver Post, March 3,2009. http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_11707039.
2. Harold O.J. Brown, The Protest of a Troubled Protestant (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1969): 35-36.
3. Tony Jones, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Youth Specialties and Zondervan, 2005): 15.

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my Gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations….”
(Romans 16:25-26, NASB)

Adapted from www.dictionary.com

This post is authored by several members of the Discernment Research Group, including Pastor Larry DeBruyn and Sarah Leslie, along with Pastor Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. This is part of a joint project to develop a descriptive vocabulary for the new doctrines, practices and heresies of the emerging evangelical church.