Mysticism Defined By Rudolf Otto

The numinous experience tends to have these attributes:

* The element of "awe"fullness (p.13)
* The element of overpoweringness (p. 19)
* The element of energy or urgency (p.23)
* The element of the "Wholly Other" (p.25)
* The element of fascination (p.31)

Source: Otto, Rudolf. The Idea of the Holy, (London: Oxford University Press, 1977)

"Mysterium tremendum"

"We are dealing with something for which there is only one appropriate expression, 'mysterium tremendum'. The feeling of it may at times come sweeping like a gentle tide, pervading the mind with a tranquil mood of deepest worship. It may pass over into a more set and lasting attitude of the soul, continuing, as it were, thrillingly vibrant and resonant, until at last it dies away and the soul resumes its 'profane', non-religious mood of everyday experience. It may burst in sudden eruption up from the depths of the soul with spasms and convulsions, or lead to the strangest excitements, to intoxicated frenzy, to transport, and to ecstasy. It has its wild and demonic forms and can sink to an almost gristly horror and shuddering. It has its crude, barbaric antecedents and early manifestations, and again it may be developed into something beautiful and pure and glorious. It may become the hushed, trembling, and speechless humility of the creature in the presence of - whom or what? In the presence of that which is a mystery inexpressible and above all creatures."
(Rudolf Otto, Das Heilige ["The Idea of the Holy"], Chapter IV: "The Analysis of Tremendum").



OTTO, Rudolf (1869­1937), German philosopher and theologian, who, in his The Idea of the Holy (1917; trans. 1923), attempted to define "the Holy" and the experience of apprehending it.

Born at Peine, Sept. 25, 1869, Otto acquired a thorough knowledge of comparative religion, natural science, and Oriental philosophy at the universities of Erlangen and Göttingen. He taught theology at Göttingen and at the universities of Breslau and Marburg. Early in his career he was influenced by the teachings of the German philosopher Immanuel Kant and the German theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher. Otto, however, later criticized Schleiermacher's concept of religion as a feeling of absolute dependence because it suggested too close a resemblance to the basic human feeling of dependency.

Otto understood the Holy as a nonhuman, pure "other," which can be approached on a rational level as well as on a nonrational level as a mysterium (Lat., "mystery"). The existence of the Holy can be rationally determined through the senses, by perceiving, for instance, the order apparent in nature. The nonrational apprehension of the Holy, or "numinous," has two aspects: fascination, or attraction, and awe. This dual conception of the numinous experience has been criticized by some philosophers who claim that it is appropriate only for primitive religions.

Although The Idea of the Holy is his best-known work, Otto also wrote on his other areas of study. Among his publications are Naturalism and Religion (1904; trans. 1907), in answer to the theories of Charles Darwin, and Mysticism, East and West (1926; trans. 1932). Otto died at Marburg, March 7, 1937.



LUTHERANISM
major Protestant denomination, which originated as a 16th-century movement led by Martin Luther. Luther, a German Augustinian monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg in Saxony, originally had as his goal the reformation of the Western Christian church. Because Luther and his followers were excommunicated by the pope, however, Lutheranism developed in a number of separate national and territorial churches, thus initiating the breakup of the organizational unity of Western Christendom.

The term Lutheran was deplored by Luther, and the church originally called itself the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession or simply the Evangelical Church. Scandinavian Lutherans adopted the names of their countries for their churches (for example, the Church of Sweden). As a result of the missionary movement of the 18th and 19th centuries, Lutheranism has become a worldwide communion of Christians and the largest Protestant denomination in the world, with about 80 million members.