Is Contemplative Christianity New Agey?

St. Iraneus

People often resist interpretations of the Bible that are not literal, particularly down in the bible belt.

They resist any approach to the Bible that reads as metaphor, because they believe that metaphor is the same as not true.

In doing so, they turn away from the invitation to live their life as Jesus lived his life, because they refuse to see Jesus’ life as a metaphor for their own. Far from being fiction, a metaphor is truth, which transcends time and place. A metaphoric reading of the Bible suggests that what was true for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus is equally true for us—that the spirit of truth which lived in them and substantiated their lives is the very same spirit that breathes us into being.

Some are willing to accept the mandate to love the poor and feed the hungry, but almost all turn away from the subtlest example that Jesus offered, his very incarnation. They fail to see the way Jesus embraced his humanity as an invitation for them to do the same—”though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” as St. Paul famously said. When in fact Jesus was, as he emphatically stated, the Way. In other words, Jesus is not a person, per se, but a manner of living, which is just as relevant today as it was 2,000 years ago.

People often write off the mystical theology as new-agey. But how new age is it? While other brands of Theology come and go mystical theology stretches back from the present-day to Thomas Merton and Paul Tillich,  St John of the Cross, St Thomas Aquinas, back to St Augustine, and Bishop Iraneus. Fundamentalism, raptureism, and even models that are based entirely on the fall come and go, but incarnation theology goes all the way back to Jesus himself.

Far from being new age, the greatest proclamation of mystical theology comes from Bishop Iraneus himself, the man, who back in the 2nd century, organized the canonical version of the four Gospels we enjoy today. One of his teachers was a student of John the Evangelist. How much more traditional could you be?
Saint Iraneus said,
“The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
There is nothing new age about that!

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