Friday, June 30, 2006

The Evangelical Mystic

For some folks the average reading an average theologian makes for little more than a headache. Perhaps to some they seem dry, boring, and appear as nothing more than ivory towers for the academia. In short their works and words have no bearing on the spiritual and practical lives of everyday Christians. I have written here enough on this topic in hopes that many will read it and see that such is not the case with theology. That, in fact, all people have a theology and it has huge implications for worship and life (see my latest article "The Heart and the Head"). But the recent interest in one 17th Century German Theologian makes this discussion again relevant.

Johann Gerhard, a Lutheran church leader, professor, and theologian, is what some would call an Evangelical Mystic. Perhaps the language is not the most helpful, for when most people think of mystics they think of Julian of Norwich or Margery Kemp, but such is not the case with Gerhard. Two works in particular stand out as some grand examples of experiential spirituality rich with theological truth: "Sacred Meditations," and "Meditations on Divine Mercy". Speaking of Gerhard Gene Edward Veith writes:

Gerhard was both right-brained and left-brained in his expressions of faith. He also wrote a Systematic Theology of the most scholarly, anylitically rigorous, and profound sort....You don't have to be a Lutheran to appreciate and draw on Gerhard.

Concordia Publishing Co. is in the process of publishing all 15 volumes of this work. Perhaps "Mystic" isn't the right word, but for those looking for a theology that is both spiritually rich and practical this may be a good place to start.


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