In conversation with a couple of friends this week on these things, I happened more or less by accident on a truth that surprised me, and sharpens the mysticism issue for me a great deal.
Here’s how it happened: in discussing the ongoing person/proposition controversy, we were considering how poorly the Saving Proposition/Content Of Saving Faith positions fare when faced with the burden of addressing a person’s present experience of death. However well they might do at addressing truths regarding the second death (not well, actually, but that’s another discussion), these positions utterly fail to bring God’s saving power to bear on death right now. Jesus came to save His people from their sins — not just from the Lake of Fire, but from drunkenness, adultery, theft, lying, murder, addiction, and so on.
An eternally secure heroin addict who will certainly go to heaven when he dies has not yet been saved from his sin. No proposition suggested in the Content of Saving Faith debate will help him. He needs more than propositions; he needs rescue.
If you insist on sticking to the truth-is-a-proposition approach, then you find yourself stuck in a two-tiered view of the Christian life, in which one needs this proposition to guarantee passage to heaven, and then those propositions to experience life here and now. In principle, this is the Galatian heresy all over again, and as long as you confine yourself to thinking of truth in terms of propositions, it’s absolutely unavoidable.
Which is why you ought to consider the living Christ instead of just propositions about Him, however true. A propositional view of receiving eternal life not only fails to meet the real human need for life now, it can’t help lapsing into legalism. You can refer to a person in a proposition, but you can’t contain a person in a proposition, or transmit a relationship with a person via a proposition. All you can contain and transmit in a proposition is an idea. Living by ideas — even the most noble of ideas — is living by Law. We already know how well that works, and anyhow if Sinai had been all we needed, whence Jesus?
The solution? Actual relationship with the living Christ, which is to say, mystical union. Either you live in real relationship with God or you’re just another legalist, living by ideas in your head.