Responding to Ken Silva pt 2… the Mystics and Historical Christianity

February 19, 2008

Responding to Ken Silva… the Mystics and Historical Christianity

Ken Silva was once a Catholic. In that he saw some things that were not “Christian” in the sense that as other denominations, the RCC has strayed in many areas of what I prefer to call Biblical Christian faith.

I prefer to use “Biblical Christian Faith” as often Orthodox is misunderstood or abused or too broad or too narrow. In using the Bible as what is the basis of Christian faith I hope that we can understand some basic things that come from history and the bible.

I am responding to this little blurb, of which in itself is but a small part of an over all misunderstanding of history or our faith. I have read Ken’s view here and there but this attack piece on Shane Claiborne seemed to be the clearest in the way Ken speaks as to the real issue that is between ken and others which is his lack of Historical understanding and the Bible and how they often are truly relative in relationship with each other.

First here is the article from CRN. Note this is posted by the “editor” which is or is not Ken, yet this has “Ken Silva” all over it as all the links lead to Ken’s other site Apprising Ministries.


Shane Claiborne Mystic Mumbo Jumbo
Published February 16th, 2008 by Editor in Emerging Church, Postevangelicalism
For those who may doubt it Shane Claiborne is definitely into the mystic mumbo jumbo of the Emergent Church. So-called “Christian” mysticism is a core doctrine of the emerging church movement from its very inception.

To be fair, Claiborne is hardly alone in using this perverted reference to experiencing God as one’s “lover”; and what follows from his book The Irresistible Revolution is classic language from those who practice contemplative mysticism: church history is filled with folks who followed God as singles–Jesus, for one; many of the disciples and martyrs, Francis and Claire of Assisi, the desert monastics, to name a few others…

At first it was a rational thing; I was attracted to the idea of God as lover. And then I began to experience God as lover, and I quickly became attracted to the Lover. I read Hosea and got the sense that life is a romance with the divine. I started meeting with a Catholic monk, who had taken a vow of poverty and celibacy. He told me, “We can live without sex, but we cannot live without love, and God is love.” I had come to see God as lover and provider… (111)

For those who may doubt it Shane Claiborne is definitely into the mystic mumbo jumbo of the Emergent Church. So-called “Christian” mysticism is a core doctrine of the emerging church movement from its very inception.”

This is the core issue which I will state Ken misses that by throwing out all mysticism as wrong, misses that historically much what Ken believes was and is attributed to mysticism and its influence on our foundations of our faith and even later the Reformer themselves.

If we say “mysticism is tainted”, then we must go to the root of the mystic teachers and those who promote them. Yet, in saying they are tainted then brings the Fathers of our faith in to question and in that, the bible itself.

Now one of the most misunderstood things is that there is a great history of Christianity both eastern and western. Athanasius of Alexandria would be a great place to start. It was him (Besides the Apostles themselves but I will get to the biblical references for this later) that first wrote about the mystic way of Life of St. Anthony. Yet, if we just stop there we then miss that Athanasius of Alexandria was one that stood against many heresies of his day which includes Arianism and the Meletians who did not accept the Niceae Council’s Creed.

Now, Athanasius was far from perfect, in fact his attack against Ariansim seems historically more of a caricature than the realities of what they believed. There was also controversy as to how he came to the position of Pope.

That being said, Athanasius did do some very great things.

“Athanasius is revered as a saint by the Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic Churches. He is traditionally regarded as a great leader of the Church by the Lutheran Church, the Anglican Communion, and most Protestants in general.” (Source Wikipedia)

Of his greatest accomplishments, Athanasius was the secretary at the First Council of Nicaea and also was a major influence in the development of the Cannons of Scripture. Which is why I am starting here. For if we are to question and assert as Ken Silva does, that all mysticism is wrong, then one of the most important figures in the development of the bible as we have it, let alone one of the greater participants of the Council of Nicaea, then we then must be aware that there is a grave issue in whether the bible and the creeds are trustworthy. Of course there is much more to this, but again my focus is on the idea that if a person is tainted with “mysticism”, and all they do is tainted as Ken asserts with Shane Claiborne, even to attack the teaching “God is Love” as perverted by saying “God is our Lover”… misses that there are complete books of the Bible that teach just this. Again I see this as more ignorance which can be fixed with a little education if one cares to gain a bit of knowledge with their zeal.

I recommend that if anyone is interested, Covenant Worldwide has some great “free” courses online. I recommend Ancient & Medieval Church History taught by Dr. David Calhoun. This is a “reformed” school taught by a Calvinist. So in that there is some bias in the teaching, yet, I found it very informative and of great interest. I am now doing Reformation & Modern Church History and will be doing Calvin’s Institutes in the next few months. I am not putting Mr. Silva down, yet will boldly state that ignorance does cause much hate. It is better to state things with a bit of grasp of history than to be ignorant and throw out the baby and the bathwater.

Be blessed,

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