Intelligent Mysticism

I just started Tim Keller’s new book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. In the first chapter, he quotes John Murray to the effect that the life of faith is one of “intelligent mysticism.”

Intelligent mysticism is a fascinating phrase. Here is Keller’s explanation of it:

[Intelligent mysticism] means an encounter with God that involves not only the affections of the heart but also the convictions of the mind. We are not called to choose between a Christian life based on truth and doctrine or a life filled with spiritual power and experience. They go together. I was not being called to leave behind my theology and launch out to look for “something more,” for experience. Rather, I was meant to ask the Holy Spirit to help me experience my theology.

I looked up the section in Murray that Keller was referring to and found the following comments about intelligent mysticism:

It is not the blurred confusion of rapturous ecstasy. It is faith solidly founded on the revelation deposited for us in the Scripture and it is faith actively receiving that revelation by the inward witness of the Holy Spirit. But it is also faith that stirs the deepest springs of emotion in the raptures of holy love and joy.

I like how “intelligent mysticism” highlights that prayer must embody both truth and experience, thinking and emotion. In prayer our theology and our hearts need to intersect.