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Clement of Alexandria
Why Clement of Alexandria, why theoria
'Spirituality' becomes far more than a science of interpreting exceptional private experiences; it must now touch every area of human experience, the public and social, the painful, negative, even pathological byways of the mind, the moral and relational world.
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church states this in its definition on mysticism;
Psycho-physical phenomena, such as dreams, locutions, trances, visions, and ecstasies, have been frequent concomitants of mystical experience. But while these are recognised by Christian spiritual writers as possible accessories of true mystical insight, they are not held to be essential to it...
The problem, evidenced by this definition, is that there exists a wide range of what might be called "mysticism." From the heart searching of Augustine to the negative theology of Psuedo-Dionysius and the visions of Teresa of Avila: "mysticism" comes in great variety. The definition offered above causes one to think of the extremes like seeing visions, hearing voices, falling into a trance, out of body experiences, and conversing with angels. But, there also seems to be a mystical faith which is not so extreme yet is quite different from the normal Christian experience. This kind of mysticism would include hearing an inner voice which would be attributed to God, or prayerful experiences which would be described as intimate and very personal. In addition to the more extreme description given above, The Oxford Dictionary also reports that mysticism is,
...an immediate knowledge of God attained in this present life through personal religious experience. It is primarily a state of prayer and as such admits of various degrees, from short and rare Divine 'touches' to the practically permanent union with God...
Many believers speak of "epiphany" experiences: times where the senses are charged with the knowledge of the nearness of God. Perhaps a mystic would experience these times on a consistent basis.
One wonders, however, whether this term is adequate in the context of Eastern Christian spirituality. To the Western mind, mysticism is associated with forms of subjective, individual and necessarily esoteric knowledge, which, by definition, cannot be communicated to all.
Meyendorff is correct when he says that "mysticism" is typically thought of as a form of esoteric knowledge which is beyond description. The method of gaining this knowlege is understood by many "mystics" to be a state beyond the senses where the soul is in union with God, who is beyond description, and this is usually referred to as "contemplation," which is how qewr…a is usually translated. Whether one speaks of "mysticism" or "spirituality," it is a concept not easily grasped or defined. When dealing with the "mystical" aspects of Christianity it seems satisfactory to use either term. Along with the dissatisfaction of terms is the difficulty of diversity and of those who attempt to make the spirituality of the Fathers synonomous with all sorts of modern versions. Wakefield responds to this by saying,
Christian spirituality may seem to suffer from an embarrassment of riches. Confused syncretism and retreat into 'pietistic' and bigoted sentimentality are both to be deplored.
I agree with Wakefield and Louth: the spirituality of the Fathers is quite a different thing from much of what passes as "spirituality" in our day. This leads to one final point concerning our study of Clement: the discussion about Christian mysticism or spirituality, certainly everything said thus far in this section, is mostly based on writers after Clement. Historically, as we will see in the following two sections, studies on Clement have neglected spirituality and studies on spirituality have neglected Clement. This study addresses this gap in research.
Clement of Alexandria and Christian Spirituality
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Clement of Alexandria and The Trinity
Clement of Alexandria and Contemplation
Clement of Alexandria and Prayer
Clement of Alexandria and Prayer
Clement of Alexandria Stromateis
Origen of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria and Stromateis
Stromata, Miscellanies or Stromateis
Clement of Alexandria and The Instructor
Cyprian - Lapsed Christians
Paidagogus - Stromateis - Miscellanies
Origen - De Principii - Principles
Paul of Samosata - Trinity
New Testament Canon, Canonized
Questions regarding Christian Issues
Diocletian Persecutes Early Church
Novatian Baptism - Cyprian of Carthage
Early Christianity New Testament
Early Christianity Constantine and War
Important Issues in Early Christianity