The language of mysticism and spiritual experience cuts a wide swath through the world’s religious traditions, and it presents an alternative theology, that of connection and intimacy. In Christian tradition, Jesus speaks this language when he claims, “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30), and when he breathes on his followers and fills them with God’s Spirit (20:22); it appears in the testimony of the apostle Paul, who converts during a mystical encounter with Christ on a road; and it fills the effusive poetry of John the Evangelist, whose vision of God is nothing short of one in which the whole of creation is absorbed into love. When the Bible is read from the perspective of divine nearness, it becomes clear that most prophets, poets, and preachers are particularly worried about religious institutions and practices that perpetuate the gap between God and humanity, making the divine unapproachable or cordoned off behind cadres of priestly mediators, whose interest in in exercising their own power as brokers of salvation. The biblical narrative is that of a God who comes close, compelled by a burning desire to make heaven on earth and occupy human hearts.
– from “GROUNDED” by Diana Butler Bass