The unifying mysticism (dynamic unity of the incarnation) is the leaven in the loaf of Christian tradition. However if we lose the particulars, we have only leaven without substance/flour. Spirit (spirituality) and form (religion) are most life giving when they dance together. The more integrated the two, the more vibrant the tradition, the more embodied the tradition. Traditions need spirituality to energize them. They also need religion to hold everything together. Those who would discount one or the other don’t understand their symmetry.
Authentic religion dances between mystery and certainty. Either, in the pure sense, won’t satisfy. The Jesus Paradox of the Alexandrian Mystics, which I attempt to behold in my book, intertwines certainty with mystery. Wonder of wonder! Mystery (immaterial Spirit) and certainty (material flesh) fly like two wings of a butterfly fresh from the cocoon!
Many are well aware of liabilities of too much certainty. Fewer are aware of problems of too much mystery. Robert G. Kemper, a mainline Protestant minister writes, “The reason for…calling Protestant theology agnostic is the stance we take toward mystery. We accept the basic definition of God as hidden, unknowable, wholly other. In short, God is a mystery. Always has been: always will be.” I resonate with this statement and it would have been a wonderful statement if Kemper had qualified it. But he leaves it there. So, like many Mainline Protestants, he gets wishy-washy.
I affirm the mystery of God on the one hand. On the other hand I uphold the paradoxical Jesus, who gets closer to the mystery’s essence than anything I know. So I confess both my ignorance and my knowledge of God. I won’t settle for Kemper’s mysterious agnostic soup. Nor will I settle for “God is on our side” theism, which exacerbates divisions in our world.
I uphold the tension in the rope, not one side of the tug-of-war or the other. I uphold the dance, not one dance partner or the other. I behold the extraordinary butterfly in flight; I don’t fixate on the mechanics of one wing or the other!