Seminary Program

This is where we post the essays from many of our Universal Life Church Seminary students. When students finish a ULC course, they write a comprehensive essay about their experiences with the course, what they learned, didn't learn, were inspired by, etc. Here are their essays.

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Saturday, December 04, 2010

Mystical Christianity

This course provides an introduction to the subject of mystical Christianity. It provides overviews of certain aspects of mystical practices among the Jews and Christians including the Essenes and Gnostics based on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other literature. A significant portion of the course is devoted to exploring the role of the Divine Feminine in the Christian religion. This includes an introduction to various expressions of the Divine Feminine including that of Sophia as the goddess of Wisdom and several lessons devoted to Mary Magdalene as the archetype of the Divine Feminine.

Several lessons are devoted to a mystical examination of the life and teachings of Jesus. These include a consideration of the Gospel of Thomas as well as a consideration of the “Lost Years” of Jesus – that time between age 12 and the beginning of his ministry. In addition to this lesson, the doctrine of the Atonement is evaluated in mystical terms including a re-evaluation of the role of Judas. There are also two lessons concerning a mystical interpretation of the Ascension as a shift of consciousness that allows perception of a multi-dimensional reality. These lessons begin with the stories of Jacob and Elijah and contain several interesting points.
The author devotes a significant amount of time considering the doctrine of reincarnation. Although there is some mention of early Christian belief in reincarnation as shown in the teachings of Clement, not much time is given to other evidence of early Christian acceptance of reincarnation. There is no discussion of the role of Greek philosophy (in particular, Pythagoras and the Platonists) on the acceptance of reincarnation especially among Gnostic Christians. She does make a brief reference to Luria and the teaching of the doctrine of gilgul (although she does not use the term) among the Kabbalists well over a thousand years after the beginning of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Most of her discussion of reincarnation is devoted to presenting evidences of the reality of reincarnation rather than to discussing the role of reincarnation historically in Christian teachings or to the role of reincarnation in modern Christian theology if any. 

The author does devote some time to well-known Christian mystics such as Julian of Norwich and Teresa of Avila. These discussions are brief but interesting but the striking omissions of St. John of the Cross, Meister Eckhart, St. Francis of Assisi, and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing brings up questions of how much more was omitted. The Desert Fathers, whose contemplative practices are seeing a rebirth today, are barely mentioned and certainly not given the emphasis one would expect from a course on mystical Christianity.
The course is interesting but uneven in its content. While it provides some introduction to historical Christian mysticism, it omits prominent figures in that history. The author has a definite emphasis on the Divine Feminine but does not mention the Shekhinah or the role of sacred sexuality among the ancient Israelites. Much of the content relies on New Age sources such as Carolyn Myss and Edgar Cayce as well as non-Christian sources such as the channeled teachings of the Egyptian Hathor and Buddhist teachings. While these are certainly acceptable fields of study, a greater emphasis on the vast mystical literature which exists within the Christian context might have been more in line with the course title.

By Robert Nelson

The Universal Life Church offers free online ordination and an extensive seminary program where we offer a course in Wiccan Studies, one on the Four Gospels, several courses that are based on A Course in Miracles, several Christian Studies courses and a variety of courses on Spiritual Awareness and Spiritual Development.

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