In The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, Matthew Fox addresses mysticism as an essential part of spirituality and Christian faith. The prologue, “A Dream and a Vision for a Global Renaissance,” underscores the importance of the language of mysticism in communicating spiritual matters beyond physical reality.
The book is organized into six parts with several subheadings. Each begins with quotations or citations from the Bible and writers who have captured the ecstasy of experiential mysticism in their works, including Christian saints (such as Hildegard von Bingen and Thomas Aquinas), poets (such as Jall al-Dn Rm, Kabir, and Walt Whitman), and other writers (such as Henry David Thoreau and Dorothea Soelle). At the end, an epilogue sums up the book’s ecumenical scope. It relates a dream about the Third World nations and the United Nations’ plans to prepare for the year 2000 as a jubilee year, when spiritual leaders from both West and East will gain appreciation for cosmic wisdom in their relationships. The new era will be marked with possibilities for experiential mysticism and excitement and will dismantle the institutions of abusive power. Old divisions of race, gender, and culture—often promoted through religion—will cease to exist.
In part 1, Fox interprets the Crucifixion story in a modern global context by using Mother Earth to represent the primal elements of humanity, which are threatened in many ways. He then shows how separation from the primitive cultures and primeval elements of religion deprives humanity of “Mother Love.” He adds that universal wisdom is dying along with native peoples, their religions, and their cultures.
In part 2, Fox describes mysticism as the expression of renewal and resurrection for our times. He deplores the rise of pseudomysticism in Christianity, which separates the mystical experience from the natural state of a living creature. Taking a more inclusive approach to mysticism, he suggests “twenty-one experiential definitions of mysticism” that embrace the changing conditions of human life and cultural diversity without losing the balance between the parts and the whole being through universal connections. Experiential mysticism resists a compartmentalized approach, blends human reasoning with emotional understanding, includes both the right and the left brain, and resists reductive visions. Fox refers to the historical Jesus as a mystic, a storyteller whose preferred form of teaching through parables encouraged his followers to seek wisdom by connecting natural contexts to spiritual understanding.
In part 3, Fox shows that a quest for the Cosmic Christ requires a paradigm shift: a search for the renewal of fixed traditions of the past, traditions that have promoted exclusion based on gender, race, culture, and religious differences. This paradigm shift is necessary to understand various biblical references to the Cosmic Christ as the ruler of the universe and the embodiment of the wisdom of all world religions.
In part 4, Fox takes a close look at the Cosmic Christ’s role as the redeemer of humankind in the “Third Millennium of Christianity.” Christ’s suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection represent the mystery of faith that connects the human condition to the power of divine will and word. Fox proposes that pain and suffering are an inevitable part of human life on earth; however, sensitivity to pain not only teaches compassion but also leads to a realization of the need to explore possibilities for relief from pain through creative means. The Cosmic Christ is the mediator between God the Creator and his creation, especially human beings. The Cosmic Christ inspires creativity among humans and restores the connection between mind and heart through spiritual experiences. His divine wisdom shows new connections between world religions that have remained distant and unexplored because of factionalism based on cultural differences. Instead of promoting anthropocentrism and...
(The entire section is 1,075 words.)