The Need for a History of Protestant Mysticism – John Boruff

Evangelical mysticism is a modern-day form of Protestant mysticism. It is influenced by all of the theological developments of Evangelicalism in the 20th century. But if we are to fully understand where Evangelical mysticism comes from, then we need to know about the entire history of Protestant mysticism since the Reformation. I hope to study this 500 year history sooner rather than later. Discernment against Gnostic and New Age influences needs to be applied to figures such as Jacob Boehme and Emanuel Swedenborg. Here are some books on this topic.

Doles, Jeff. Miracles & Manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the History of the Church. Walking Barefoot, 2008.

Dorner, Isaak. History of Protestant Theology. T. & T. Clark, 1871. vol. 2, p. 178ff.

——-. History of the Development of the Doctrine of the Person of Christ. vol. 4, Chapter II.

Galli, Mark. 131 Christians Everyone Should Know, 2000.

Fanning, Steven. Mystics of the Christian Tradition. Routledge, 2001. Part V.

Fremantle, Anne. The Protestant Mystics. Little, Brown & Co., 1964.

Harpur, James. Love Burning in the Soul. Shambhala, 2001. Chapter 12. (warning–New Age publisher)

Hastings, James, ed. Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. T. & T. Clark, 1917. vol. 9, p. 101ff: “MYSTICISM (Christian, Protestant).”
Texts that this article says have influenced Protestant mysticism: The New Testament, The Theologia Germanica, The Imitation of Christ,
Figures (Charismatic/mystical revival leaders) that this article says have influenced Protestant mysticism: Thomas Muntzer (d. 1525; prophetic Anabaptist), Hans Denck (d. 1527; prophetic Anabaptist), Johann Bunderlin, Christian Entfelder, Sebastian Franck (d. 1543; Boehme influence?), Caspar Schwenckfeld (d. 1561), (Jacob Boehme–major heretic), (William Law–Boehme influence?; heretical?), etc.

The following mystical revival leaders are known for teaching Evangelical mysticism, practicing contemplation, and experiencing prophetic revelations.

1525 – Thomas Muntzer (Anabaptists)
1527 – Hans Denck
1670 – John Comenius (Moravians)

1740 – Jean Cavalier (Camisards)
1791 – John Wesley (Methodists)

1834 – Edward Irving (Irvingites)
1922 – William J. Seymour (Pentecostals)
1924 – Maria Woodworth-Etter (Prophetic Healer)
1935 – John G. Lake (Healing Rooms)
1963 – A. W. Tozer (Alliance)
1965 – William Branham (Prophetic Healer) [contemplation?]
1978 – Richard Foster’s (Quakers) Celebration of Discipline
1983 – Mark and Patti Virkler’s Communion with God

1989 – Don Basham (Charismatic Movement)
1991 – Dennis Bennett (Charismatic Movement) [contemplation?]
1996 – Mike Bickle‘s (Kansas City Prophets) Growing in the Prophetic
1997 – John Wimber (Vineyard)
2000 – James Goll‘s Wasted on Jesus
2000 – Rodney Howard-Browne’s Flowing in the Holy Spirit
2003 – Derek Prince (Charismatic Movement)

2008 – Jack DeereThe Beginner’s Guide to the Gift of Prophecy
2009 – John Crowder’s (New Mystics) The Ecstasy of Loving God

Hyatt, Eddie. 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity.

Jones, Rufus.
Spiritual Reformers in the 16th and 17th Centuries. London: Macmillan, 1914. (Surveys early Protestant mystics; warning–New Age perspective).

Pourrat, Pierre. Christian Spirituality. Newman Press, 1955. vol. 3, Chapter IV.

Riggs, John. Postmodern Christianity. Trinity Press, 2003. pp. 54-55. (note–I’m not a New Ager or postmodern Christian, but this book has a short write up on Protestant mysticism).

Spencer, Sidney. Mysticism in World Religion. Allen & Unwin, 1966. p. 295ff

Turner, William. History of Philosophy. Ginn & Company, 1903. Chapter LII.

Tuttle, Robert. Mysticism in the Wesleyan Tradition. Grand Rapids, MI: Francis Asbury Press, 1989.

Underhill, Evelyn. Mystics of the Church. Chapter XI. (warning–New Age Christian author).

Wulf, Maurice. History of Medieval Philosophy. Benziger Brothers,  p. 31ff.

About John Boruff

John Boruff is a husband, father, blogger, and insurance agent.
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4 Responses to The Need for a History of Protestant Mysticism – John Boruff

  1. Oengus says:

    I also recommend that you read “The Life of Saint Teresa of Avila,” which was her autobiography. Penguin Classics has a readable translation in paperback. The first and very important thing you’ll learn from genuine mystics (such as Teresa of Avila) is that they never thought of themselves as being “mystics.” Their primary concern was loving the Holy Trinity.

    Also, given the subject matter you’re interested in, I’m surprised you haven’t already ended up on the target list for the ODMs (“online discernment ministries”).

  2. Joan says:

    A couple more references to Evangelical mystics that I have discovered are:
    “Into the Region of Awe: Mysticism in C. S. Lewis ” by David Downing.

    Also in “The Life of A. B. Simpson” by Thompson, there are several chapters which refer to Simpson’s mysticism. A dissertation by Clyde McLean Glass entitled “Mysticism and contemplation in the life and teaching of Albert Benjamin Simpson” covers the topic more fully.

    Another resource is Patricia Ward’s “Experimental Theology in America: Madame Guyon, Fénelon, and Their Readers”

  3. Joan says:

    I’ve come across a dissertation on Isaac Ambrose (Puritan) entitled:
    “Soul Recreation: Spiritual Marriage and Ravishment
    in the Contemplative-Mystical Piety of Isaac
    Ambrose” It is a free download and authored by Tom Schwanda. Just google his name and Isaac Ambrose. It’s a great read! And free, at that.

  4. David says:

    There is certainly a real place for the mystical approach in evangelical Christianity. The experience of salvation through Christ is itself mystical in a sense. Readers might like to look up the article at;

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