I am a historian of philosophy and theology, which is to say that the authors I work on are almost exclusively those who make doctrine. Moreover, a great deal of my work has been focused on Thomas Aquinas, the doctrine maker extraordinaire of the later Middle Ages. From that vantage point, it is interesting to consider the question of whether mysticism, by its nature, must necessarily conflict with doctrine.

For present purposes, I will limit myself to the Christian tradition of the later Middle Ages, and I will understand mysticism generally as involving experiences that are inherently phenomenological (concerning individual felt experience) and transcendent (going beyond our mundane reality to involve an encounter with God). I will understand doctrine, in contrast, as the body of written teachings endorsed by the church.

Perhaps a good place to begin in considering the difficulty of harmonizing mysticism and doctrine is to focus...

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