Alchemists are commonly thought of as ancient protoscientists who tried to change (transmute) lead into gold. Alchemy is far more diverse than that (and this is NOT a thread about alchemy), but the idea of changing a “base” substance into a “rare” substance was an important component which extended beyond metals. Some alchemists believed they could do this with their own souls, and many died consuming various concoctions trying to achieve such spiritual transformation.
Alchemy had a spiritual and philosophical dimension (which did not preclude elements of mysticism and magic). Well, I actually know a guy that considers himself an alchemist, and he looks to alchemy in seeking spiritual transformation (though I don’t think he’s gulping dubious potions - yet).
I gotta admit that in 20 years of apologetics, this is a new one for me. I’m not sure how to approach the ministry of leading this guy closer to Jesus. I’m inclined to use the Eucharist as an example of “transmutation” and point out that by consuming the Eucharist, we (in a sense) transform ourselves.
I wonder if anyone here has encountered an alchemist – I’d be interested to hear your experiences. Or if you have any ideas about how I might approach this…