Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Meet the Medieval Mystics

Who were the medieval mystics? What did they believe? What could we possibly learn from them in our day?

“Dark Ages” Full of Light
The Middle Ages (medieval era) lasted roughly from 400 – 1400 AD. Since the enlightenment, this time period has often been referred to as the “dark ages.” This is a misnomer. While the years from 850 - 1050 AD were dark times of chaos and limited education and culture, most of the rest of the Middle Ages was a time of learning. Especially from 1100 onward, this was a time of great light spiritually.

By the thousands people came into a personal relationship with Christ and pursued him with their whole heart. Many of these Christians are referred to the “medieval mystics.” That title seems odd to us today. “Mystic” has a negative connotation in our day, referring to something strange or something related to TM, Buddhism, New Age or the occult.

In the Middle Ages, however, the mystics were simply Christians who cultivated an intimate relationship with Jesus, committed themselves to spiritual growth, and believed prayer was a genuine conversation with the Lord.

Cultivating a Personal Relationship With Christ
Studying the mystics and reading their writing has become my life’s work. Again and again I am amazed how similar their faith is to ours today! As I have studied many of them, I’ve seen seven characteristics of most medieval mystics:

•They pursued a personal relationship with God—recognizing that simply being part of a church was not enough.
•They sought to follow Jesus in daily obedience and discipleship—even when that path led to suffering.
•They nurtured a dynamic prayer life, setting aside the busyness of the day to spend time with their savior.
•They cultivated intimacy with the Lord—experiencing his love for them and pouring out their love in return.
•Often they encountered God’s presence in prayer, Scripture reading and celebrating the Lord’s Supper.
•They recognized that the Christian life is one of growth in sanctification—overcoming sin, learning God’s word, serving others and continuing to surrender our will to God’s.
•They longed to experience as much oneness with the Lord as is possible here on earth.

When we understand who they were, we realize how closely related we are to the medieval mystics!

Some of them have left writings behind, so we know a bit about their lives and their experience in the Christian life. Over the coming weeks I want to introduce you to some of these key men and women, as well as their profound insights on spiritual growth. I hope you enjoy these blogs as well as take away some practical wisdom for your own walk with Christ.

© 2011 Glenn E. Myers


  1. Well...Who are they? can you name some?

  2. Yes, I have a new posting coming out with a bunch of them named. Sorry--I got sidetracked on several other themes and did not make it back to listing them!