By Frédéric Fournier
Translation Louise Thunin
A mystic is a person usually viewed pejoratively in Protestantism. According to their critics, a mystic is a person who wants to reach God by his own strength and the use of spiritual exercises. Supposedly, she loses interest in the world in order to shut herself in, in her relationship with God. He even disqualifies reason in favor of feeling. Finally, he claims to experience supernatural phenomena (visions, ecstasy). By the way, these phenomena are not boasted about by the great mystics, such as Master Eckhart (1260-1382), Lawrence of the Resurrection (1614-1691) or John of the Cross (1542-1591).
Indeed, a mystic can fall victim to the dangers we have mentioned. However, the essence of mysticism is a direct experience of God. A mystic does not conquer God thanks to her or his own strength but is in a position of opening to and welcoming of the Divine. He is not cut off from the world, but the strength he gathers from his spiritual experience allows him to better commit to society. The history of the Quakers shows that they were able to link harmoniously the resource ofsilence and social concern ; commitment to the world. Moreover, reason is not necessarily excluded from the life of a mystic but is a place where she can express her spiritual experience.
Finally, the mystic is a potential liberal. Indeed, his direct experience of God contains the germ that leads him to see the relativity of middlemen and their representations : dogma, rites and institutions. His experience of the Divine without Church mediation is a danger to the authority of the Churches. Even if he remains faithful to his Church and its orthodoxy, the mystic is often misunderstood, for example the minister, Pierre Poiret (1646-1719), and is sometimes mistreated by the authorities. Master Eckart and Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717) are sad examples of this.
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