A Presbyterian Mystic

25 02 2008

Here’s an idea that crops up from time to time.   I don’t have to actually become Orthodox.  I can continue to attend occasional Vespers services and a Divine Liturgy from time to time, read Orthodox books, take up praying to icons and do other Orthodox type things around the house like burning incense. 

I will say the Jesus Prayer throughout the day and incorporate all the things I learn from Orthodoxy into a sort of evangelical mystical mish-mash.  I will grow a beard and become a semi long-hair and listen to people better.  When I take communion, I’ll consider that it’s the real presence of Christ no matter what others think. 

This way, I don’t have to cause family upheaval and go through all the agony of leaving yet another church.  I’ll get all benefits of Orthodoxy without dealing with all the heaviness, and I won’t have to sell all my reformed and evangelical books.  

If only it was that easy.  Trying to be a Presbyterian mystic is a recipe for misery.      

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14 responses

26 02 2008
Nancy

This made me laugh, because my husband and I had the exact same thoughts at one time! It made so much sense to us then, and we thought that perhaps God would use us to help introduce some Eastern thought into our bible churches. What a lofty and prideful thought! Like you, we found that it doesn’t work like that. You can’t view Eastern Orthodoxy with a Western mindset. You have to change “glasses”.

26 02 2008
CAL

I laughed, too. But while I see the comedy in it, I also see (and know) the frustration. The further along I get in Orthodox thought and practice, the more I feel like a wanderer without a home. I just continue to take comfort in the knowledge that I am on a path and following God as best I can. If I am not ready to become Orthodox, then I am not ready. And I’m thankful that folks wiser than myself have encouraged me to refrain from forcing anything. My latest thought is that I’ll wait a couple years—if I can make it.

26 02 2008
The Scylding

“Presbyterian Mystic” LOL! Although there were some Dutch Reformed who “leaned mystic”, like Andrew Murray. The only mystic Presbyterians are Scots on Burns’ night…..

26 02 2008
Nicodemus

You expressed these feelings that I and others have had so perfectly! The exact same thing happened to me when I was exploring Orthodoxy – there is a charismatic Episcopal church only a mile from my house that I thought would be the perfect compromise – they believe that the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ, they are liturgical, they are charismatic (which would have been a plus for my wife), they use incense, and they don’t pray to saints. However, the Lord closed this door in such a gentle, loving way. This church would have been my Hagar.

Keep hanging in there – it will all fall into place for you sooner than you might imagine.

26 02 2008
neil

I’m in the same place, only I think these thoughts because I don’t know if my wife will ever join me on the Orthodox path. It is frustrating. What am I supposed to do other than wait. And “show up” when I can (reference to Fr Stephen’s post…)

It’s funny, though, because I’ve totally had those thoughts! May God bless you and grant you perseverance and patience!

26 02 2008
neil

Oh, and speaking of Andrew Murray, I was pleased to find his Waiting On God book in an Orthodox Church bookstore lately. it is a good one…

27 02 2008
John

“Trying to be a Presbyterian mystic is a recipe for misery”…

You think that’s hard–try being a Church of Christ mystic!

You (and others here) describe the phase we all go through–trying to adopt a little bit of Orthodoxy, or to introduce Eastern concepts to our churches. But it just doesn’t work that way (thankfully). Four years ago, I could see no way forward for my becoming Orthodox. The obstacles were too great. But every day, I would confess this in prayer and put my trust in God’s providence for me. And now, I am on the other side looking back. It did not happen exactly how I would have imagined it, and was a little messy with relationships, but he got me through it. If I could offer any advice from my own experience, it is simply this–have patience (I didn’t) and stay steady in prayer.

27 02 2008
Joseph

“Trying to be a Presbyterian mystic is a recipe for misery.”

AAGGHH! Don’t say that!! There has got to be a way.

Are there any icons of John Knox or Jonathan Edwards?

27 02 2008
s-p

Of course it can be done. Its just like wanting to be Chinese. You buy some furniture, some artwork, shop at the Chinese market and start eating chicken feet and eels, celebrate Chinese New Year, and watch some Bruce Lee and Charlie Chan movies. And if you ever go to China, no one will ever know you aren’t “round eyes”. LOL! Actually, there are benefits to all spiritual disciplines done in the name of Christ with the motive of deepening the spiritual life. The issue is, you are limited by praxis without direction (which is dangerous… like self diagnosing and prescribing yourself prescription medicine) or trying to “go native” without ever encountering the true country, culture, language, etc. and its natives. Travelogue, or travel channel Orthodoxy is interesting but its not the real thing.

27 02 2008
neil

John, thanks for your comment and advice. it’s nice and simple, but seems so effective.

“Have patience and stay steady in prayer…”

thank you!

28 02 2008
William

I can’t remember who said it, but an Orthodox commenter on a blog not too long ago advised non-Orthodox who were inquiring into the faith to make the most of their time as inquirers. This is a paraphrase of what s/he said, emphasizing how often it is that, during this transition stage, you are able to learn, read, and ask questions at your own pace, to gently overcome your own reservations about the faith, if that’s what God has for you. This person gave the impression that once you make a decision to join, the time spent preparing will have been time well spent and might be looked back on somewhat fondly because, after joining, you can be swept along and reflection won’t be the same.

I don’t know if I did justice to this person’s comments, but it struck me as another way of stating the value of having patience and staying steady in prayer.

Blessings

28 02 2008
Kirk

How dare you read my mind! I’ve heard of Carmelite monks; I was just pondering whether it would ever work out to become the Campbellite monk. I so relate to St. Nicodemus right now, coming to Jesus at night…

28 02 2008
neil

More good advice, William! Thank you. I actually feel really refreshed by your comments, because sometimes I feel sort of “penalized” by having to wait to join in the fullness of Orthodoxy. Typical for me to want to rush along, neglecting the sweet time I have now, in the present.

neil

12 12 2009
wrareeRoowkit

Waow loved reading this blogpost. I added your feed to my google reader.

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