The Protestant Mystics

Here are the details of my forthcoming class:

Mystics of the Protestant, Reformed and Evangelical Traditions

Six Tuesday Evenings, April 6 through May 11, 2010
7:00 – 8:30 PM
First Christian Church of Atlanta
4532 LaVista Road
Tucker, GA 30084

Ours is an age of Spiritual renewal, and many Christians are sensing a call to a deeper life of devotion and conscious contact with God. Traditionally, the spiritual disciplines — and resulting experience — associated with such a hunger for the presence of God has been known as “mysticism.” This concept has met with resistance among many Protestants and Evangelicals because of its historical association with Catholicism. But in fact, many great and lesser-known Protestants have been mystics. In its best sense, mysticism is not contrary to the Gospel, but actually a way to live the Gospel more deeply, fully, and joyfully. This class will explore the writings and wisdom of some of the Protestant mystics and prayerfully consider how their teachings can be applied to the Christian life in our day.

For the purposes of this class, “Protestant” refers to any church with roots in, or after, the 16th century Reformation of northwestern Europe. The mystics we will study in this class come out of the Anglican, Quaker, Reformed, Methodist, Holiness, Presbyterian, and Evangelical traditions; including: George Fox, Jonathan Edwards, William Law, John Wesley, Phoebe Palmer, George MacDonald, Evelyn Underhill, T.S. Eliot, A. W. Tozer, and C.S. Lewis. We will also consider the question of “Is mysticism in the Bible?” and how mysticism (or spiritual practice) relates to the overall calling of Christian discipleship.

The class will meet on six Tuesday evenings, April 6 through May 11, from 7:00 – 8:30 PM, at First Christian Church of Atlanta, 4532 LaVista Road, Tucker, GA 30084. There is no required textbook for the class. Class is taught by Carl McColman, author of the forthcoming Big Book of Christian Mysticism and the Website of Unknowing Christian mysticism blog ( There is no set tuition for the class but an offering will be taken to cover expenses and to help support future spiritual development programming at First Christian Church.

For more information or if you have any questions, please contact Carl at mccolman @

Preliminary Practices for Christian Contemplatives
Is Mysticism Genetic?
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Bruno Barnhart (1931-2015)
About Carl McColman

Author of Befriending Silence, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism, Answering the Contemplative Call, and other books. Retreat leader. Speaker. Professed Lay Cistercian.

  • Yewtree

    George MacDonald was a Universalist (theologically, anyway, if not denominationally).

    And how about Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau (Transcendentalist / Unitarian)?

    • Carl McColman

      Indeed, MacDonald got into hot water with the Church of Scotland because of his universalist convictions; hardly the first mystic to run afoul of the orthodoxy police! As for Emerson and Thoreau, they are just two of the many wonderful figures who are not included in this class, due to lack of time. I could do an entire series just on the Quaker mystics or the Anglican mystics — or, as you suggest, the Transcendentalists. Hopefully the class will be a success and I’ll have the opportunity to do others in the future.

  • jean wise

    I wish I were closer to attend this. Anyway after the class you could run a series on your blog highlighting what you learned/taught?
    Read and even printed out your post from the other day. fascinating topic that is not discussed very often. Thank you.

  • George Bailin

    Never before have I felt so sad to be at this great distance from Atlanta.

    May your class in mysticism flourish!

  • Burl Hall

    This is wonderful. Coming from a family of evangalist Christians whose hearts were filled with hatred, I found this article to be healing. I consider myself a mystic and, in the true nature of the word, a Protest-ant…meaning I am about the evolution of human beings by moving beyond our current ways of looking at things. My real dream is for Protestant, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Native, and so on to become united under the understanding of the unity in our diversity. As our nation’s motto states, “E Pluribus Unim.” why do we parrot statements such as this and not live up to them. E Pluribus Unim, in the many is one.

  • heshimu

    Mystiscm, if it is void of truth is pondering lies. But, true mysticism that lets you know God in His character of grace is worth a life of devotion.

    No truth = no God.

    Truth = know God by experience, rather than intellect only.