personal love of their incarnate divinity, a friendship or romance with
Jesus the Christ.
No other religion has an incarnate divinity as Christianity does. After
one has entered many necessary qualifications (shown how the Buddha or Muhammad have and have not been incarnations or how Christianity has and has not distinguished divinity from the incarnate Word),
this thesis remains credible phenomenologically, in terms of how the
different believers have actually believed.
Still, the history of Christian mysticism suggests that many mystics
have not been so exactly incarnational, so distinctively Christian, as an a priori approach worked out of Christian doctrine might suggest they
would have been. That is a salutary reminder that God may not be a
Christian, any more than a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a Jew.
For general treatments of Christianity, see Jaroslav Pelikan, "Christianity: An Overview", in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed.
Mircea Eliade ( New
York: Macmillan, 1987), 3:348-362, and Denise Lardner Carmody and
John Tully Carmody
, Christianity: An Introduction, 3rd ed. ( Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth, 1994).
Bernard Cooke, God's Beloved ( New York: Trinity, 1991), 81; also John Meier
, A Marginal Jew ( New York: Doubleday, 1991).
Harvey S. J. Egan, An Anthology of Christian Mysticism ( Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press/Pueblo, 1991), 29-30.
Bernard McGinn, The Foundations of Mysticism ( New York: Crossroad, 1991), 240-241.
Paul Rorem, "The Uplifting Spirituality of Pseudo-Dionysius", in Christian Spirituality, vol. 1, ed.
John Meyendorff, and
( New York: Paulist 1985), 132-133.
Egan, Anthology of Christian Mysticism, 96-97.
Meister Eckhart, Selected Sermons, in Meister Eckhart, ed.
Bernard McGinn ( New York: Paulist, 1981), 184.
Julian of Norwich, Showings, ed.
James Walsh ( New York: Paulist, 1978), 127-129.
The Cloud of Unknowing, ed.
James Walsh ( New York: Paulist, 1981), 137-- 138.
Egan, Anthology of Christian Mysticism, 445.
Philip Sherrard, "The Revival of Hesychast Spirituality", in Christian Spirituality, vol. 3, ed.
Louis Dupre and
Don E. Saliers ( New York: Crossroad, 1989), 419.
Nicholas Arseniev, Mysticism & the Eastern Church ( Crestwood, N.Y.: St.
Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1979), 148. See also Andrew Louth, The Origins of
the Christian Mystical Tradition ( Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981).