This class seeks to increase their understanding through study of a wide range of topics relevant to Christian scholarship and life applications in the modern world.
Teachers in this class are Jim Jorden, Stan Smith, Linda Wilson, and Russell York.
This group of seekers structures themselves around the “class” concept:
A Christian Education “class” is a group of people who meet together for an extended period of time to study a series of topics. A class is a group of people with and for whom one feels an affinity and affection. A class is a group of people with whom one enjoys sharing time and study. A class is a group of people who miss you when you’re gone and welcome you back when you return.
Moreover, the class follows a study + service + fellowship model. Through these three modes of Christian worship and work the class develops cohesiveness as a group of people with and for whom any member feels an affinity and affection.
The study format followed in this class is structured discussion of material presented by expert professors – mainly video or audio lecturers for The Teaching Company. The facilitators’ main role is to establish a baseline of information (as presented in the video or audio lessons) and to guide the class as it explores the discussion questions and comments posed at each class meeting.
For its service project, the class assists St. Frederick Baptist Church in Marble Falls with assembly and delivery of “meals-on-wheels” to those in need, on the fifth Saturdays of the year.
The class is now in a pattern of having two fellowship activities each year:
- Participation in the annual all-Church-School picnic held during the Spring.
- A Christmas social gathering.
Mary Alice Dunn and Beryl Ann Owen serve as coordinators for these social functions. Jim Jorden handles administrative matters for this class.
New Study: “Mystical Traditions” by Professor Johnson
Mystical experiences and practices –- including dramatic visions, direct communication with the divine, intense spiritual quests, and hermetic lifestyles – are commonly associated with Eastern cultures. They are thought to be far removed from the monotheistic traditions of Christianity.
In these examples, we encounter a surprising truth: that each of the great three Abrahamic religious traditions-those religions that trace their origins back to the patriarch Abraham-holds the seeds for deep mystical contemplation. But what do most of us know about these mystics and the tradition they sustained?
What Is Mysticism?
But what do we mean when we speak of Western mysticism? As Professor Johnson shows, there is no single or simple definition of mysticism. In some traditions, it is rooted in intellectual discipline. In others, it’s based in devotion to prayer and fasting. In still others, it’s defined by ecstatic experience-a glimpse of the divine given as a gift from above.
Just consider these diverse instances of mysticism:
- The practice of hesychasm, through which medieval Christians recited the “Jesus prayer” to invite divine revelation
Mystical Tradition introduces you to the many faces of mysticism, from renowned scholars to simple people striving for personal enlightenment, throughout the centuries. You also contemplate questions about the nature of mysticism itself: How are we to understand mysticism-as literally true, as poetically true, or as a delusion? What is the future of mysticism? As it becomes detached and popularized apart from its religious faiths, can mystical observances retain their original character?
The course also offers a thought-provoking perspective on the nature of human spirituality. As Professor Johnson demonstrates, mystical strains of thought have permeated and influenced these three great religions for centuries, despite opposition from-and, in some cases, persecution by-the mainstream religious community. As you come to see, this persistence in the face of persecution reflects something about human nature: the need to pursue ultimate knowledge and union with a transcendent power.
Study begins: April 8
|Apr 08||#1 A Way into the Mystic Ways of the West||Jim Jorden|
|Apr 15||#2 Family Resemblances and Differences||Linda Wilson|
|Apr 22||#3 The Biblical Roots of Western Mysticism||Russell York|
|Apr 29||#13 Mystical Elements in the New Testament||Stan Smith|
|May 06||#14 Gnostic Christianity||Linda Wilson|
|May 13||#15 The Spirituality of the Desert||Russell York|
|May 20||#16 Shaping Christian Mysticism in the East||Jim Jorden|
|May 27||#17 Eastern Monks and the Hesychastic Tradition||Stan Smith|
|Jun 03||#18 The Mysticism of Western Monasticism||Linda Wilson|
|Jun 10||#19 Medieval Female Mystics||Russell York|
|Jun 17||#20 Mendicants as Mystics||Jim Jorden|
|Jun 24||#21 English Mystics of the 14th Century||Stan Smith|
|Jul 01||#22 15th– and 16th-Century Spanish Mystics||Russell York|
|Jul 08||#23 Mysticism among Protestant Reformers||Linda Wilson|
|Jul 15||#24 Mystical Expressions in Protestantism||Jim Jorden|
|Jul 22||#25 20th– Century Mystics||Stan Smith|
|Jul 29||#36 Mysticism in the West Today||Russell York|