Letters by a modern mystic
LETTERS BY A MODERN MYSTIC
Excerpts from letters written to his father
By C. Laubach
SPCK. 117 pages. £7.99
ISBN 978 0 281 066 124
Frank Laubach (1884-1970) was a missionary in the Philippines, and the book records his experiences when he experimented in 1930 with trying to live in conscious communion with God every minute of every day. To achieve that goal he attempted ‘turning the mind to God for one brief second of each minute’.
While applauding his aim for a ‘closer walk with God’, I found much in the book that troubled me. He equated this ‘conscious communion’ with ‘trying to live all my waking moments in conscious listening to the inner voice’ (p.4). He found it when God spoke to him using his own tongue (p.40). Predominantly Laubach seemed to have his closest divine encounters out on a hill in the evenings, when God spoke to him through sunsets and nature.
In fact he seemed to find God anywhere but in the gospel of Christ. Not only are repentance and faith absent, along with encouragement to meet God in his Word, and the cross as a redemptive substitutionary act, but he claimed that ‘Jesus and Buddha had almost the same message about this life’ (p.58) and God is ‘a friend of Islam’ (p.13).
I came away from the book wondering which God Laubach was drawing us to. He was lauded as the God whose conscious presence was satisfying Protestants and Catholics, conservatives and liberals; but was he the God of the Bible, the only God and Saviour through Jesus Christ who died for us and rose again? I could not imagine Peter or Paul writing this book.
pastor, Elmstead Baptist Church, SE London