labyrinthI’m no longer afraid to admit that I’m a rationalistic and disenchanted person of faith. I’ve lived into this way of being long enough to own it. Because I was raised in a form of Christianity that frowned upon this kind faith, for many years I was embarrassed by it and not sure if I had a legitimate place in the church, especially as a pastor. But now I’m comfortable enough in my skin to say that this is the way I’m wired. This is the way I have been born in God’s image.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t believe that there are phenomena beyond the understanding of human reason. I believe in divine realities greater than me or the world in which we live. Yet I grew up in a kind of Christianity that essentially engages the supernatural through placing faith in propositions about the supernatural or treating as literal or historical supernatural stories found in the Bible. This no longer cuts it for me.

Instead, I long for experiences of the divine rather than intellectual or faithful affirmations of dogmas or metaphysical systems. Such mystical experiences do not conflict with a rationalistic approach to faith, theology, and biblical scholarship—they transcend all of this. The rich traditions of Christian mysticism are perfectly suited for progressive and postmodern spiritualities that follow different paths than those of orthodox fundamentalism.

All of this came to mind this afternoon as I walked the new labyrinth at our church. Tomorrow Lauren Artress, an authority on the use of labyrinths, will offer a workshop at our church. She spent some time with our staff this afternoon, which I am grateful for because I’ll be in a presbytery assembly all day tomorrow.

My labyrinth walk this afternoon revealed to me a lot about where I am and what my soul longs for. My heart and mind are spinning.

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit

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  1. Over 35 years ago I had a life changing mystic experience which took me many years to understanding more fully. As a Prebyterian I have never really been received or understood about this rather criticised. I learned very early on never to mention it. So sad. Now at 70 years of age I have begun to tell some trusted people.

    I is a sad thing to have to search your own Christian roots back before the Reformation to find writings by church mystics to be able to relate you own spirituality. I have had so many years of experience in the journey bur have at last begun to have a very small spiritual direction practice. I went through a very difficult dark night with little or no understanding of what it was until I stumbled across St. John of the Cross.

    I often wonder how many other Presbyterian mystics are out there. Not an easy journey in our church.

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