Into The Mystic (Apologies to Van): Duane W.H. Arnold, PhD

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9 Responses

  1. Duane Arnold says:

    Bibliographic reference:
    ‘The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church’ by Vladimir Lossky. Available through SVS Press

  2. Xenia says:

    Good article, Duane.

    Rather recently, I decided to sign up for a Zoom Bible class conducted by an academic that I greatly admire, who is an Evangelical. We were going to study I John.

    I hadn’t participated in a vs by vs style study in 20 years, and I had forgotten how grim and lifeless they can be (although not always.) Every word had to be looked up in a Greek dictionary, for example. When we got to the passage where St. John explains why he’s writing the letter and says it’s so we can have fellowship with him, the teacher says this is very disappointing because what’s the big deal hanging out with St. John? Then he described some of his past experiences with church fellowship, reducing it to coffee and awkward conversations in the foyer after the service. This man hasn’t been to church in many years and evidently doesn’t see church as all that important.

    So I typed in the comments “I think St. John is talking about Communion?” No response, but he knows I’m Orthodox and probably wanted to avoid sectarianism, so ok, I get that.

    But it really made me think. “Hanging out with St. John,” to me, means being in communion with the Apostle John (and the rest of the Apostles) and therefore, being in communion (fellowship) with Christ’s Church and not some heretical breakaway group. To him it just meant an awkward conversation with an historical figure. So he’s disappointed and has to consult his Greek dictionary some more to get himself un-disappointed. I don’t know how that went because as fond as I am of this fellow, I couldn’t take anymore. God bless him; he’s a good man who loves the Lord, but loves Him in a way that I can no longer accept as I live my own life in Christ.

    So I was talking about re-enchanting our lives in Christ the other day here, which means moving away from a flat academic materialistic way of looking at the world. I think this fits in well with Duane’s article.

  3. Duane Arnold says:


    Many thanks! I must confess, I’d not read Lossky for almost 40 years. Recently, however, I read a book that included the Orthodox theologians (of which Lossky was one) in the Russian emigre community in Paris in the 20s and 30s. They seemed to be drawn to mystical theology as the material aspect of their lives was harsh. Despite this, or perhaps because of this, they took another path…

  4. Dread says:

    I Jn 1:5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

    What an appalling response… in your class… Fellowship is union and communion in Spirit and as you note at table …

    Bible studies using the classical definitions of Greek words descends into rational discourse and not the life we have in Christ..

    Table fellowship is the heart of covenantal life… it is the core of our faith… we are aching for it

  5. Duane Arnold says:


    All too often we can become so fascinated with the tools, that we lose sight of what they are meant to create…

  6. Michael says:

    When you remove the mystical, you remove life and Spirit and have nothing but words…and instead of seeking life and Spirit you search for definitions.

  7. Duane Arnold says:


    Agreed… and then you try to define that which is indefinable.

  8. Captain Kevin says:

    Great article, Duane!

    Michael: “…instead of seeking life and Spirit you search for definitions.” That’s convicting.

  9. Duane Arnold says:

    Captain K

    Many thanks!

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