Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger

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the Spirit who unites us with Christ

"The ideas of union, communion and participation may remind one of medieval mysticism. This impression is strengthened by the fact that Owen uses words such as purgation and illumination, and furthermore uses the Song of Songs for what may seem a form of mysticism reminiscent of that of Bernard of Clairvaux. The Puritans deliberately returned to Bernard's mysticism and so showed themselves to differ from Reformation theologians. It is obvious that Owen uses the Song of Songs in a way reminiscent of Bernard, making the spiritual continuity explicit. I do not intend to solve the problem whether or not John Owen can be labelled a mystic, but I do want to not that there is an important difference setting Owen apart from medieval kinds of mysticism. The traditional mystical way is purgatio, illumninatio,unio. In Owen's use of these words the theology of the Reformation has changed the order, and in that way fundamentally changed medieval mysticism. Owen does not start with purgatio, but with illuminatio because of sin: man is not able to purify himself, but has to be illuminated first by the Spirit to be able to receive Christ. After this first illuminatio he secondly places union and regeneration (in 2.5.1 it will be shown that the preparation of the regeneration creates new problems, but this does not alter the fact that Owen's theology of grace fundamentally changed medieval mysticism). It is the Spirit who unites us with Christ to His divine nature. As Jones says, union with Christ is not an achievement of a few heroic souls, but a divine gift received by all true Christians. The foundation of this union is the obedience, sacrifice and intercession of Jesus Christ. After the unifying work of Christ or the Spirit we have communion with Christ in receiving His new life. This new life consists in continuing illumination as our mind is renewed, purgation as our life is sanctified and also in a remaining communion with the triune God, Father, Son, and Spirit. This communion brings with it participation in the divine nature, but unlike in mysticism this participation does not mean deification. Although there may be spiritual continuity, the theology of grace has fundamentally altered the medieval mystical order." pg. 73 'Being In Christ' by Hans Burger

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