Today we begin looking at Marko Ivan Rupnik, In the Fire of the Burning Bush. Rupnik is a Jesuit, is a director and teacher in Rome, and is also a visual artist. A theme of the first section of this book, “Preliminary Clarifications,” is the danger of gnosticism in the spiritual life.
A constant issue we face today is the devaluation of something inherent to who we are — body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions — and the construction of a Christian life that does not integrate all of who we are into loving God and loving others.
Gnosticism, Rupnik contends, offers two temptations: a moralism that emerges from an emphasis on mind or on behavior and a psychologism that thinks therapeutic health is the path to spirituality. Here is his opening claim: “Spiritual gnosticism of whatever type, whether psychological or moralistic, is recognized precisely in the incapacity to see the connections between the various dimensions of the person and the various facts of life. The spiritual life embraces thoughts, emotions, and physicality. There is no event in daily life, however insignificant, that is excluded, untouched by the life of the spirit” (26).
Spiritual gnosticism begins with understanding the spiritual as the non-material. The modern world reduced that non-material from the “soul” to the “mind.” This approach devalues matter, the Eucharist, work, and the physical world and life.
In this kind of mess-up, theology becomes science instead of ecclesial relationship; or it becomes “spirituality,” a discipline divorced from the Church.
Here we encounter “disintegration” — the body, the spirit, the mind are pitted against one another and the Christian life becomes a military campaign of one trying to conquer the other.
Genuine spirituality is integration of the whole and it will always emerge from God as Trinity — Person — so that everything becomes reconnected into personal relationship.