The Contemplative Light Podcast, Episode 18: Paul Smith On Integral Christianity

Paul Smith, author of Integral Christianity and Is Your God Big Enough? Close Enough? You Enough? talks with Clint about the dimensions of the Christian contemplative path, as understood and aided by an Integral perspective of state-stages and points of view. Rev Paul has contributed valuable insight that is essential for the future of Christian mysticism, incorporating much of the work of Ken Wilber, along with his own experiences of higher states of consciousness, to demonstrate that, yes, the Christian tradition has always allowed room for what Integral theory calls the causal, witnessing, and non-dual states.

Some key take-aways for us were:

-Often spiritual seekers who have pursued meditation into higher states in a tradition other than their own will experience stress until they make peace with the tradition in which they were raised. This is especially important for Westerners born and raised Christian who since abandoned Christianity for another path, yet continue to experience an unresolved anxiety.

-Biblical references to "Spirit" translate best to what we would call "consciousness," allowing this usage of the word to account for what Buddhists might call "Emptiness" or "Oneness," and other traditions might call something else. There is no reason to think that you HAVE to stop following Christian tradition once you experience higher states.

-Often people who practice centering prayer and contemplative spirituality have stopped praying altogether. Rev Paul has some great insights about approaching God in the first person (as God), second person (to God), and third person (about God).

 

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Paul Smith is a follower of Jesus Christ, a mystic, scholar, and the author of several books, including the landmark Integral Christianity: The Spirit’s Call to Evolve. He was the pastor for forty-nine years of a church in midtown Kansas City, Missouri. When he came to the historic church founded in 1872 it was a traditional Southern Baptist church and he was an evolving Southern Baptist pastor. He led the church in a series of changes over five decades during which time he became an advocate of integral Christianity and the church became a progressive, inclusive, integral church. Since his retirement in 2012, he has traveled the country speaking about Integral Christianity. His new book, Is You God Big Enough? Close Enough? You Enough? Jesus and the Three Faces of God, has just been released. His website is revpaulsmith.com