Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice: Renewing the Contemplative Tradition, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice

Renewing the Contemplative Tradition, 1st Edition

Edited by Christopher C. H. Cook, Julienne McLean, Peter Tyler


128 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472480095
pub: 2017-09-04
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pub: 2017-09-08
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In Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice several leading scholars explore key themes within the Christian mystical tradition, contemporary and historical. The overall aim of the book is to demonstrate the relevance of mystical theology to contemporary spiritual practice. Attention is given to the works of Baron von Hugel, Vladimir Lossky, Margery Kempe, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Thomas Merton, and Francisco de Osuna, as well as to a wide range of spiritual practices, including pilgrimage, spiritual direction, contemplative prayer and the quotidian spirituality of the New Monasticism. Christian mystical theology is shown to be a living tradition, which has vibrant and creative new expressions in contemporary spiritual practice. It is argued that mystical theology affirms something both ordinary and extraordinary which is fundamental to the Christian experience of prayer.


'Mystical theology has experienced a marked revival in recent decades, not least because, as the authors of Mystical Theology and Contemporary Spiritual Practice put it, mystical theology "seeks to engage and illuminate theology in such a way as to rescue it from only being a rational and intellectual exercise". Many of the important links between spiritual practice and mystical theology are incisively explored in the essays in this volume. The collection reminds us that fostering connections between theory and practice, especially the practice of prayer, is necessary for true cultivation of the spirit in our fractured world.'

Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus, University of Chicago, USA

"This illuminating and darkening collection of essays explores the deep yet relatively unfathomed ground between mystical theology and contemplative practice. … This valuable, heartfelt, and deeply enlightening book belongs equally to the future of mystical theology and practice."

Simon D. Podmore, Liverpool Hope University, UK

Table of Contents


Peter Tyler, Julienne McLean and Christopher C.H. Cook

1 Baron Friedrich von Hügel on the Mystical Element of Religion: Has the Baron a Message for us Today?

Kallistos Ware

2 What Did Vladimir Lossky mean by ‘Mystical Theology’?

Andrew Louth

3 The Mystical Theology of Margery Kempe: Writing the Inner Life

Corrine Saunders

4 Unlikely Mystics: Durham Cathedral as mystical space for ordinary people

Rosalind Brown

5 The Renewal of Contemplative Traditions: New Monasticism and Quotidian Practices

Bernadette Flanagan

6 Wittgenstein Reads Merton: The Mystical Theology of Two Twentieth Century Masters

Peter Tyler

7 Mystical Theology and the Renewal of Contemplative Spiritual Practice

Julienne McLean and Christopher C.H. Cook

Concluding Reflections

Christopher C.H. Cook, Julienne McLean and Peter Tyler

About the Editors

Christopher C.H. Cook is Professor of Spirituality, Theology & Health in the Department of Theology & Religion at Durham University, an Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist with Tees, Esk & Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, and an Honorary Minor Canon at Durham Cathedral. He trained at St George's Hospital Medical School, London, and worked in the psychiatry of substance misuse for over 25 years. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 2001. He has research doctorates in psychiatry and in theology. He is Director of the Project for Spirituality, Theology & Health at Durham University. He is the author of The Philokalia and the Inner Life (Clarke, 2011) and editor of Spirituality and Narrative in Psychiatric Practice (Eds Cook, Powell & Sims, RCPsych Press 2016) and Spirituality, Theology and Mental Health (SCM, 2013). He is a member of the core research team for the Hearing the Voice project at Durham University.

Julienne McLean practices as a psychologist, psychotherapist and Jungian analyst in north London, as well as being a spiritual director and retreat director. She has been on the clinical team of St Marylebone Healing and Counselling Centre, London, for many years. She teaches at St Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, London and Sarum College, Salisbury, where she is a Visiting Scholar in Christian Spirituality. She facilitates a contemplative spirituality retreat programme and is the author of Towards Mystical Union (St Pauls, 2003, 2013), a modern spiritual and psychological commentary on St Teresa of Avila’s classic text, The Interior Castle.

Peter Tyler is Professor of Pastoral Theology and Spirituality at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. His recent books include The Pursuit of the Soul: Psychoanalysis, Soul-making and the Christian Tradition (T & T Clark, 2016), Picturing the Soul: Revisioning Psychotherapy and Spiritual Direction (Dharmaram, 2014), Teresa of Avila: Doctor of the Soul (Bloomsbury 2013) and The Bloomsbury Guide to Christian Spirituality (ed. with Richard Woods, Bloomsbury 2012). He is a registered psychotherapist as well as Director of the Centre for Initiatives in Spirituality and Reconciliation (InSpiRe) at St Mary’s.

About the Series

Contemporary Theological Explorations in Mysticism

This series facilitates new points of synergy and fresh theological engagements with Christian mystical traditions. Reflecting the plurality of theological approaches to Christian mystical theology, books in the series cover historical, literary, practical, and systematic perspectives as well as philosophical, psychological, and phenomenological methods.

Although the primary focus of the series is the Christian tradition, exploration of texts from other traditions also highlight the theological, psychological and philosophical questions that Christian mysticism brings to the fore.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / General