Moral Complexities

It is a real challenge to stick to a heart-led conviction and wade through the mass of lies. For those of us still learning how to live by divine conviction, seeking to shake off generations of false religious teaching with false moral values, we need a lot of time in prayer and contemplation to catch up. I encourage you to get close to Creation and learn to hear the voice of God in communion with unfallen nature. Learn to pray and worship outdoors in relatively wild settings; get used to just sitting and absorbing that personal moral truth of God’s character. It’s not so much a matter of pristine untouched wilderness — though that is good if you can find it — but a place where the normal noise of human traffic is far enough away that you can hear the sound of nature singing the praises of God.

And then, I encourage you to keep that thrumming song of glory alive when your human responsibilities pull you away from those moments. Stay heart-led; keep an ear on your convictions. This is how we overcome our own sinful tendencies. This is how we restore justice to as much dominion as God grants us individually.

This way, you’ll be in a position to understand when I tell you that a critical element in divine justice is living in that tribal social structure. While it may mean blood kinship, the real point is covenant kinship. That business of shared covenant is the core of divine justice in this fallen world. This is why I characterize shalom as “social stability” — you cannot possibly have genuine social stability any other way than to elevate the covenant to the status of divine law in your thinking.

Of course, we never lose sight of the vast difference between our world of divine justice versus the world around us. Our lives are characterized by the eternal conflict between what is versus what ought to be. We do not control the outcomes; we can just barely control the process within ourselves. Adam — symbolizing our fallen nature — is like a zombie that won’t stay dead, won’t stay nailed to the Cross (Galatians 2:20). We should hardly be surprised that the world around us lives like moral zombies.

I don’t expect the world to understand this kind of talk. It’s not just the way I use language, but the whole thing rests on a moral awareness that only God can give. Instead, I have to speak to the world just a few things that represent their best interests in terms they could understand if they wanted. Instead of talking about the tribal covenant orientation, I refer to nationalism. Whatever bad things might come with that, it’s far better than what comes with other political agendas. If I can persuade men to embrace a nationalist agenda, it’s about as close as they’ll get to social stability and God’s divine blessings.

We are not going to escape death in this world. It’s not what God intended for us, but now it’s the only way out of this mess. But as noted in my previous reference to Galatians 2:20, we can choose death before we actually die. We can sacrifice our sinful nature and God will grant us a trans-dimensional awareness that means we get some kind of taste of the Tree of Life. We face the Flaming Sword at the entrance to Eden and use it on ourselves; it accomplishes the same moral purpose that way. So we become aware of things we can’t really expect to experience in our fallen existence. We see not just the conflict, but the full meaning of the conflict. We can discern the nature of things and characterize for others a vision, a path that leads them somewhat closer to that Flaming Sword. We tell them to embrace nationalism and already know that it means people have to bleed and die. We understand that the Canaanites had to be slaughtered or God could not bless Israel in the Conquest.

A lot of Israeli warriors didn’t quite have that deep moral vision of the Covenant, but they did have a certain useful bloodlust. Humans have a capacity for violence and it’s just plain goofy to suggest that violence is inherently sinful. It has its place in the fallen world. Don’t try to overly analyze this with your reasoning; God commanded His people to destroy and kill because it was part of His inscrutable plans. The problem was that Israel got lazy about it; it’s the sin of Adam in eating the Forbidden Fruit. Fighting moral evil is a dirty job and Adam had competing interests to distract him. He should have attacked the Devil. And Israel failed to bring God’s wrath against the Canaanites in full measure. That violent human tendency does have a godly purpose, but it requires some strong preparation to see what’s the real threat that needs killing instead of seeking fleshly convenience.

Don’t ask me why God would desire whole portions of humanity to die in their sins. This the world in which we live. It’s sad to see so much potential lost that way, but the real problem is our moral blindness. Our intellect is arrogant and imagines it could find a way to redeem those folks and make them more useful. As if we could succeed where God has closed the door…

We aren’t living in a society that embraces the Covenant of Noah, and I’m not appointed by God to take political leadership. I’m not going to tell you whom you should go and kill with any kind of moral authority from God. Rather, I’ll tell you that the question of using violence is valid under Biblical Law; it’s a valid question for those who follow Christ. But you have to get with God and know for yourself what He wants. We don’t listen to the shrill false morality of our society because it stands on a false moral approach to everything. It flies in the face of God and His revelation; it makes the State your god and demands you do violence only at government behest. Some of you reading this will, in the near future, be confronted with moments when violence is God’s will for you, never mind what government says. I’m utterly convinced I will face those moments. God can redeem our bloodlust, too.

For the rest of humanity in our current American political context, I would say that violence against the likes of the Antifas is justified. But I would also say don’t get lost in that. You may need to save some for the real threat: the globalists behind the Antifas. Do you honestly imagine those folks will peacefully surrender their political power? They are the ones funding the Antifas. Sure, wait for them to force your hand — they will. They most certainly would not hesitate to kill you as a simple matter of convenience.

Would you rather we just keep going in the same muddled direction where the plutocrats plunder everyone of everything? How bad does it have to hurt before you act? If you want to stop the oppression, the path is to take down the globalists first, then the imperialists — the former is shielding the latter. As the linked article notes, there will come a time when the imperialists will send out fake Antifas to keep you distracted from attacking the imperialist agenda. So while you have a little fun punching out the Antifas, don’t get confused about the real threat.

In the end, the thing you imagine you are protecting or recovering will lie shattered on the ground. In the back of your minds, realize that the system as come to an end already, and it’s time for you to build something new once you have broken the plutocrat power over you.

Europeans: I can’t help you much. The globalists own you already; God has delivered your countries into their hands. Your lands are already swamped with implacable foes and your future is lost. The Islamic conquest fended off in 732 at the Battle of Tours has now been embraced by your political elite. You folks will have to find your own answers. The tide cannot be turned back now. You’ll need to learn violence merely to survive on a daily level. God help you.

For those of us who walk the heart-led way, don’t get trapped in political concerns. Learn to recognize what’s happening and be ready to exploit the opportunities for Christ’s glory.

It’s Alive

Mysticism is a struggle. We are always trapped in a system that cannot give full expression to what we can discern. Our postmodern Western society is designed to prevent everything that God intended for us. Even those wonderful mercies He offered after the Fall are hidden under vast piles of cultural trash. We wouldn’t even have to call it anything; there would be no need for the distinctions inherent in the term “mysticism” if our entire heritage were not so dead set on denying what is normal and natural for humanity after the Fall.

The whole body of Scripture presumes mysticism. The mindset takes it for granted as the foundation for everything that matters.

Do you understand that God speaks to everyone all the time? He hasn’t been silent for a single moment since the Fall. Every living thing can hear His voice except humans. We have to fight through our fallen nature to restore what is perfectly normal and — well, it’s supposed to be ordinary, but it seems extraordinary because we are born outside of it. Sure, children can do it almost by instinct, but we can’t stay in childhood innocence if we are going to obey the Lord. We have to confront the reality of the Fall. Redemption demands this. There are things we have to do that require engaging human capabilities incompatible with innocence. But we don’t have to lose our mystical capabilities when we surrender our innocence. It’s our culture that demands it; it’s not in the nature of the transition itself.

So it’s not as if we are all natural born prophets, but we can all hear from God and know what He requires from each of us. The mission of the prophet is to pull back from the normal activity of life to some degree and bathe their minds in the bigger picture of revelation. A prophet surrenders some measure of typical daily life in favor of seeing more consistently what other people tend to lose track of in terms of the broader scope of God’s revelation. Prophets forgo the daily commerce of life for this, so we are supposed to support them to make up the difference.

Even more so with priesthood. The idea is to be fully acquainted and focused on the protocols of worship. Priests can scarcely avoid a certain amount of prophetic awareness. They are supposed to be sensitive to the moves of the Spirit of God in worship. What does Our Lord want from us and for us at this moment? What does it take to stand in His glory? You can’t ritualize everything about it; the rituals are not the point. The rituals simply meet the protocols so we don’t forget certain important details. Priests go into a time of worship expecting the Spirit to direct contextual modifications because no two moments of worship are the same. God is a Living Person with all the same whims and moods, but none of our human flaws. Holiness does not mean “stasis.”

The measure of perfection in biblical terms is a mature relationship with a Person. It’s a living give and take. This is the nature of mysticism as an approach to life. We assert to the world around us that we deal with a living God in a living communion. It’s individual and variable; it’s alive and impossible to quantify.

Jesus warned us, as did many prophets before Him, that this is both the norm and wholly atypical. Don’t expect many to turn into this path. There is simply no way to make this a social norm. That is, there is nothing in human capability to turn the whole human race from destruction. Get used to the idea that mysticism will isolate you in many ways. Share what you can when you can, and get excited every time it seems to have an impact. But always remain cynical about even your own persistence.

04 The Lost Heritage

After completing the full loop around Draper Lake today, I stopped off at Daniel’s Hill. Removing my helmet and facing into the wind, I prayed aloud.

“Lord, I’m grateful for the way You have carried me through all the long journey to discover the vast riches of Your shalom. But it shouldn’t have to be that hard. How did we get like this? How was it that the churches surrendered so quickly and easily after the First Century? Is there some way we can make this thing more painfully obvious and provide a better hedge? And Lord, can we please include more people in this rich heritage of Your blessings in this life?”

Two things stick out in my mind: The Laws of Noah and heart-led living. I was teaching Noah years ago, and before that I was teaching how convictions in your heart are written by God and should reign over your reason. Convictions look just like the Law Covenants (Deuteronomy 30:11-14).

There is nothing legalistic in the Law Covenants. Legalism is something you have to bring to the Law, usually because of the influence of Hellenism. Both Moses and Noah are inherently mystical in tone. Anyone living at the time they were published would have presumed them a parabolic image of something far deeper. Both of them presume you are living from your heart. So if you walk in Christ, it’s going to look like Noah. And Moses is a particular instance of Noah, so the promised blessings are the same for both.

Thus, if you are living in communion with Creation through God’s Spirit, nobody really has to explain why you might, for example refuse to eat meat that hasn’t been properly drained of its blood. It’s a matter of reverence for the life in Creation. Draining the blood before eating meat is a symbol of that communion we all have with Creation. Blood is life and we offer it back to God who gave it as covering for our fallen nature. People in tune with Creation and Christ don’t consume blood as food, not intentionally.

But it’s not a nit-picky rule or law; it’s a symbol, a parable of truth.

If we are to build a genuine parallel society, we have to manifest a common departure from Western moral mythology. For at least the past two years I’ve been steadily trying to contrast Noah from Western assumptions. That most of Western Christianity adheres to the false, heathen moral assumptions of the West only complicates our message. So we have to distinguish ourselves from mainstream Christians, too.

Hellenism is the root of Western intellectual traditions. Aristotle was a key element in Hellenism, and he assumed that humanity has always been like this. Indeed, he figured that gods would be just as morally weak as humans. There is no room in Hellenism for the notion of the Fall, because Scripture posits a world aside from this world. The Bible teaches that it wasn’t like this in Eden, that we weren’t made for this. Jehovah, unlike the pagan deities of Greece and others, is morally perfect, the definition of moral truth. We know that we shall never experience that moral purity directly in this life, but we will become aware of it in rich living detail through our hearts.

But Aristotle’s assumption about human nature rears its head in some smaller Christian denominations (Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the Fall, for example). Most Westerners are convinced the only hope is asserting the power of reason over our whole being. Thus, regardless of what they may say, they all act as if the human reason isn’t fallen. Therefore, becoming less worldly to them means becoming merely more cerebral. All you need is a better content in your head and your own power to live by your reason. So legalism is entirely natural for them, because it constitutes a call to better knowledge and better performance. It doesn’t work too well.

Western Christians don’t have a lot of genuine shalom. We need to show them what it is and where it comes from. I’m hoping that we can present a fairly consistent witness that restores the heritage of faith to those Christ calls to spiritual life. We should naturally join with nature in crying out for someone to please ditch the false assumptions about faith and reality and join us in this eternal celebration of God’s glory.

01 An Elder’s Moral Covering

I’m not a leader; I’m an elder. I don’t lead; I provide moral covering.

You’ll find plenty of biblical references to the symbol of “covering for sins.” It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden and the Fall. In their innocence, Adam and Eve had no sin to cover. Once they ate of the Forbidden Fruit, their sins were apparent to themselves and they came up with a form of covering that might be okay in the Garden, but would serve no useful purpose once they were driven out. They needed a covering that God provided, and it came at the price of blood.

The symbolism is what we are after here. It rested on symbols common throughout the Ancient Near East (ANE). Somebody has to sacrifice, to shed blood so that we can reclaim the available measure of Edenic living that God allows. It takes sacrificing whatever we think we have in this life to reclaim what we could and should have under God’s covering. Returning to Eden means facing the Flaming Sword of revelation.

He revealed that His covering includes a certain amount of sacrifice by people appointed for the role. It’s a burden that requires a strength only God can provide. For an elder, it’s not a choice. It’s a role chosen by God, though it is rather predictable. It follows established protocols.

If you observe that my life is blessed and seems like a taste of Eden, then you can grab a share of my blessing by coming under my covering. The purpose is not to boost my domain, but to justify having one in the first place. The whole purpose of moral dominion is to provide incubation for other folks who should become elders themselves. I’m propagating my blessing. I’m providing the covering you need long enough and strong enough for you to grow into that role on your own terms before the Lord.

So it’s not a permanent arrangement. And while literal progeny don’t have a lot of choice in who their first elder is, they are always free to run out from under his moral covering and face things on their own. Of course, if they simply stick around and refuse to obey, they will be punished as a means to awakening the awareness of sin’s costs. An elder cannot allow anyone to threaten the covering. Elders were empowered under the Covenant of Noah to execute those who pushed too far, too long, in threatening the covering and refusing to take their sin outside the household.

That’s a symbol of how the church was supposed to operate. It was your moral family household, never mind physical DNA. But here at Kiln of the Soul, we have to reinterpret that for the virtual world. We can’t hug, for example. And we really can’t get to know each other that well personally, though some of you have caught on how to make the most of what’s possible. So there are some of you who cling to my moral covering with a strong kinship despite the geographical distance.

It’s not possible on a purely psychological level. It only works when we share communion on a higher plane. We are trans-dimensional people. We don’t cease being humans, but we have an added component that trumps everything else about us. This alone is capable of making a virtual parish work. Without this higher faculty, there is almost nothing I can do to provide covering. But if you can tolerate what comes with embracing me as elder, then it’s a sure thing you’ll be covered under my shalom of divine moral blessings.

So I’m not here on this blog giving directions. I do set limits, but that’s the definition of covering. You can wander off as you see fit. God knows: What works for me may not work for you. Still, you’ll have to find your own dominion or suffer the loss of some of my blessings. And as long as you stay close, you’ll always be liable to suffer my sorrows, because none of us is perfect. Still, I’m hoping to see you take to your own wings sooner or later. You can keep on bringing your strength back to this virtual parish, but it means sacrificing some things in order to keep things under my covering.

In that sense, perhaps we can redefine the meaning of “leader” and “leading,” but because of the cultural baggage, I would still avoid those terms.

The Failure of Evil

The problem with great evil is that it always rests on human frailty.

Review: God created all things according to His own moral character. Reality itself is consistent with God’s personality. Second, He created a universe that rests somewhere within Creation as a relatively small part. It also responds to His moral character. Then He created us humans as the agents of management with a built-in awareness of His character, same as the rest of Creation.

Somewhere in our response after everything was established, we chose to rely on our human intellect and talents. Granted, we were given these things to help us obey, but the ultimate question of what is and is not morally right is beyond the intellect. Only the heart-mind can handle this question, and whatever it was we get from the narrative of the Fall, we must understand that mankind made a choice to assert intellect over the heart. Sadly, that means the heart becomes silent and mind is left to face the task of living and making sense of our fallen existence, and it cannot possibly discern the true nature of things. So relying on human reason is, by definition, a rejection of God’s character.

With the intellect alone, it is virtually impossible to grasp that Creation is alive and is imbued with a moral quality from God. While great efforts have been made to reawaken some higher consciousness, the mind cannot make much sense of things without a heart directly connected to the Creator. Thus, we can go back into human history and dig up all kinds of records indicating people did have some awareness of the superiority of the heart-mind, but the answers they record from their efforts in that direction are all mutually inconsistent. There is a certain similarity across these various attempts, but each one contains noticeable flaws that leave the practitioners powerless at critical moments.

The failures are manifest in all flavors. One of the most significant failures leads people to attempt pulling their fellow humans under one centralized rule. In the Bible, individuality is not central, so that’s not the answer. The answer is the family, branching out across ties of kinship and covenant. We note in passing that the Bible makes it plain that covenant takes precedence over blood kinship, but that the ideal is to have both. However, it also requires keeping family stuff within the family. More authority over more people must of necessity mean less detail. It should be obvious even to those with mere intellect that a proper daily life of peace and stability requires keeping things on a manageable scale.

But mere intellect cannot see the ultimate value of social stability, and demands social conformity instead. It’s easier for the intellect to handle ruling that way. The problem is that without a heart-led awareness, the mind imagines all kinds of things it might accomplish, mostly things that the heart would know could never work. The intellect cannot understand peace and stability the way God promised to grant it, so it imagines efficiency and centralized control — such control has never worked. Whatever it is you want to make of the narrative about the Tower of Babel, you should at least understand that empires grate on God’s moral character. It’s not that He makes no allowance for them to rise, but He always ends them sooner or later with horrendous wrath, and totally humiliating the rulers. The empires with the best historical records are those that remembered there were limits to central authority. They allowed the folks closest to the subjects to make decisions that affected them the most, and always assumed an Eastern feudal social structure.

We don’t have space here to dig into all the details. The Law of Noah remains binding upon every government until there are no more rainbows in the sky. I’ve written whole books exploring that Law; what matters here is that we realize they apply as a formulation written to the heart, not the intellect. Without the heart-mind in the lead, you cannot really obey Noah; you cannot possibly get it right. That means every government lacking a presumption of heart-led moral orientation is, by definition, evil. It matters not what the rulers think of themselves; they are evil who rule outside the heart-mind.

Even when those who conspire to rule embrace that moral judgment for themselves, they are unable to keep it all working for very long. Whatever it is they do will always be crippled by the lack of heart-led moral conviction.

It is utterly impossible for any human to actually personify the Antichrist. Satan doesn’t work that way; he is not permitted to pull that stunt. The heart-led truth of the Bible means it’s all parable, metaphor and symbolism. The biblical image of Antichrist is an influence on fallen human nature, not a literal individual figure. The antihero is a legend of the West, not from the Bible. You can easily read such imagery back into the Bible if you ignore the vast wealth of Ancient Hebrew intellectual traditions of mysticism, but you’ll get the wrong answers. Someone determined to be evil has already bought into the lies of Satan, and they cannot come up with a plan to take over the world that would actually work. Satan doesn’t work that way; he doesn’t lead people to some diabolical truth about universal power in this realm of existence. They have to be heart-led to understand it, and turning to evil means you don’t get it.

So the visions of a literal or semi-literal Apocalypse are just Western fiction. What really happens is that God sends some tribulation now and then, and the classical Apocalypse is merely a symbol of what it’s like. And here we sit in our day and time facing a very real threat of people who think their human wisdom makes them fit to rule over the whole world, but it will never happen. It may even start to look like it, but it won’t really work. The only people who really understand how it all works are people who have no interest in ruling.

That’s you and me, along with a bunch of other folks out there who remain unknown because that’s an element of divine wisdom. Just how much attention do you think we get here at Kiln of the Soul? We have no idea in our heads, but I’m willing to bet your heart tells you there are lots of folks who are heart-led, either consciously like we are, or who somehow manage to stumble upon it as some of us did before we tried to make it conscious. And the only reason we have this much is because God called us to it. We aren’t better, wiser or more talented; we are available.

Meanwhile, the desire to rule is proof of an evil moral nature. It’s not the same as ambition, by the way, but ambition can be bad or good. Most of the time, ambition falls somewhere in between, perhaps ranging back and forth some in the human soul. Some ambitions are clearly much less dangerous than others when you see it with the eyes of your heart. And your heart will tell you not to fear some satanic evil ruler taking over some major portion of the world, because even if they succeed for a time, we aren’t tied to this world in the first place.

And because we are tied into Heaven, there is an awful lot of audacious prayer requests that God will answer. That includes some of the most radical shifts in human political trends. Think about how much God was willing to spare Sodom and Gomorrah for just a handful of righteous souls (Genesis 18). You and I as heart-led servants of God qualify as “righteous souls” by God’s definition, and the definition Abraham used in his intercession. Because living heart-led makes us humble, we struggle to imagine the massive things God will do when we find the faith to ask. So take a good look with your heart at the current situation in which you live and let faith dare to ask for great and mighty things no mere man can do.

Great evil always fails because it cannot see its own weakness.

Variable Reality

Our good brother Jay DiNitto mentioned something in a recent post about Quantum Mechanics and how our conception of time is probably all wrong.

Well, duh.

We weren’t designed for this world. This world is not the original plan. To be honest, we really don’t have the words and concepts for describing it, never mind those esoteric scientific theories. This is why we warn you that ultimate truth is not transmitted by words. You can’t describe it. Our best hope is indicating something about it using parables (or parabolic language). So when I say that our world is not what God planned for us, that’s a parabolic expression. God was ready to handle the Fall; that’s His moral character. But what we now have is not what He wanted for us, and certainly nothing like Eden.

A primary element in the Curse of the Fall is the time-space constraints on our human existence. The story linked at Cosmic Scientist leans on a previous post about electrons and how they act like both waves and particles. The whole thing disembowels the concrete logic inherent in Western Civilization. The articles struggle to explain that, if these quantum particle observations mean anything at all, it means your choice in the here and now can affect the past, while at the same time, your choices don’t bind the future.

We who are heart-led are not in the least bit troubled by any of this. Science is restricted to the intellect, but our sense of self and awareness is not limited to intellect. There is a component of awareness that can choose to move the focus into the heart-mind and it changes everything. By leaving behind the limitations of what the intellect can handle, we begin to see that all of Creation itself is alive and sentient on some level. The particles are not inanimate matter, but are creatures in their own right. And so it is with the larger things we encounter every day — trees, birds, grass, rocks, dirt, and yes, houses.05vacanthouse-a

One of those houses I shot with my camera today spoke to my heart. There’s not much I could write to tell you about the content, but it essentially asked me to take a picture so you could hear it, too. Just look at the two-story house with the empty glass windows and white board fence; if your awareness is in your heart, you’ll likely hear it.

Just as surely as we can commune directly with the material world around us, so also a part of us is designed to reach beyond that time-space barrier that defines what science is all about. They’ll keep poking and poking, but scientists will never discover the final answers because the answers aren’t available to the mind, but for the heart-mind. I can’t tell you what you’ll encounter on the other side, but I can tell you there is something there, and that we can reach across the boundary and touch that other realm.

Pray that your awareness can expand into your heart. Pray that God will allow you to believe what your heart knows, and that you can get used to the idea of ultimate reality beyond the Curse. When the end for each of us comes, we will leave behind the flesh and it’s intellect, but some other part of our awareness lives on to face God. He promised in His Law and in His Son (the Living Law) that we could ameliorate the Curse of the Fall while we yet live under that curse. He promised that we could taste the existence of the afterlife (see Hebrews 6) and that means warping our awareness past the limits of time-space boundaries.

Once you taste that, you suddenly recognize what quantum particle research encounters with time as variable forward and backward. We are able to say we know about that on some instinctive level of awareness. We realize that human history is not fixed, nor can it be. The whole thing is variable and iffy, and efforts to study it will yield inconsistent results because Creation itself cannot be nailed down like that.

A Sacrifice

I have made choices while deeply absorbed into a world of moral folly. Consequently, my choices were foolish, taking place outside the boundaries of my calling and covenant with Christ. Some of them resulted in permanent changes that I never foresaw, stuff I live with to this day, and more coming. A few of those consequences God redeemed by miraculous changes. Those changes came because they serve to enhance the fundamental value of my testimony of God’s glory.

What serves His glory is simply the fulfillment of my reason for living; it is, by definition, in my best interest. To imagine an interest in anything outside His glory is the doorway to Hell.

There is a sense in which Our Father respects our choices, though. Going back to start over and recover the potential of all He offered is not consistent with His glory for reasons that require you understand His divine character. I can’t explain it, and asking the question is a waste of time. So the net result is that I take the calling He offers that excludes a whole lot of blessings I could have had, but will now never know in this life. I placed myself into an alternative sequence of possible and probable events, as the expression goes, and God still has a plan to use me despite my silly choices.

But part of His use for me includes redemption by taking better options along the path into the future. That I am aware of the moral optimum of what might-have-been and should-have-been serves to teach me that I should listen better. Departing Eden didn’t change Creation; it changed our ability to cooperate with Creation. We no longer have that wide open moral instinct to do what’s consistent with reality. We are forced to guess, and if we don’t activate the heart-mind connection, our guesses won’t make a whole lot of difference eternally — all of them will be wrong because the whole thing rests in the wrong place. But with the heart-mind on the throne of moral decision, I can do a lot better.

And my heart reminds me constantly of things I could have had but can’t go back to reclaim. I testify to the verity of that thing even if I can’t claim all of it for myself. This is a tension that we cannot leave behind because it is fundamental to our fallen existence. It’s a part of the time-space constraints that constitute a significant symptom of the Fall. We can’t simply choose to take our awareness and go back in time to restart some process that turned out wrong. I can only strive to recover what’s left. Part of what’s left is my prophetic calling.

Even that requires the moral consideration of things on multiple threads, something foreign to our cultural mythology. Moral choices are not linear and certainly not restricted to one thread of consideration. There are multiple parallel threads that do not necessarily jive with each other in my human reason. There is no single logically clean and perfect choice anywhere. His divine will for me is not that simple; it requires a certain kind of artistry that is far more than artistry. Faith is its own thing, with its own unique kind of virtuosity that we exercise far above any mere mental awareness. Nothing that I, or any other human, or all of us together, could express that moral truth with clarity or depth that a mind can absorb and process.

Net result: My calling and my sense of peace with God requires that I live in an urban environment and do my best to ignore all the problems that causes me personally. My fleshly human desires have become aware of all the sweet goodness of living more naturally without all the pollution, but my heart says that would be selfish against the particular calling on my life at this time. I can’t do what I have to do anywhere else; not now. This is not meant to portray me as some noble, saintly martyr, nor someone seeking a cynical excuse to wallow in urban hedonism. And it serves no moral purpose to blame any number of nameless other folks out there for creating this mess through which I must wade. I take this path knowing that it is not optimal to my human health, and not optimal for helping me stay in close communion with God’s Creation.

So instead of lying naked on the ground next to my natural hut in the wilderness, I go outside and touch the highly hybridized shrub that the landscaping service chops into squarish shapes. I ride my bike along paved (and soon unpaved) routes humans make to touch some wilder bit of nature and try to stay away from power lines and cell towers for just a little time now and then. I go outside for brief moments in today’s rainy weather and just feel Creation as best I can in the middle of one of the largest (area-wise) urban expanses in the US. I live below the official poverty line and consume what the grocery store offers within my limited budget, praying that my appetites can be adjusted to come closer to that Edenic ideal within the range of what they have.

If you can do better for yourself, please do. I’ve developed a form of tolerance that I wish upon no one. It includes having seen things I cannot un-see and hope you never see, because I suffer with the visual memories. Would you like to extract human body parts from the wreckage of a motor vehicle? Did you know that freshly ripped human flesh can stink? Those images did not come from God, but from Satan and his torments. I’m not “tough;” I’d rather not have seen such things. They do not ennoble; they are scars from my folly. They represent a vanity of vanities. Shake your head at the marks of my stupidity and know that I am constrained by them. At the same time, don’t waste any pity on my insignificant life. God chose to use me in spite of my idiocies, so let’s celebrate mercy, not human accomplishments. The power to sacrifice self is glorious; the necessity of having to sacrifice is not.

I sacrifice one kind of peace for another that strikes me, and only me, as a moral imperative. And because of that tension from a thousand threads in the moral fabric of reality, I’m always waiting to see if the balance of things in my faith requires a change in priorities.

Perfect Tense

The ultimate power on this earth is the power to remain focused on the moral demands of the Spirit Realm. It’s not even a question of the ability to act on such a focus, but merely to keep that focus as an eternal commitment that carries you beyond this life. The power to so act some portion of the time is a gift from Heaven.

As part of the Curse of the Fall, we bear within ourselves a weakness the hinders perfection in our use of that power. There is a sense in which it’s typical to look back and see places where we came up short. Confession that the fault is ours is a critical element in keeping ourselves in the grip of that power. We should never be surprised when we fail, and never surprised when that power overcomes our failures. The interplay between these two is a tense drama that becomes our normal here in this world.

Thus, the Blood of Christ releases us from the ultimate claims of the Curse of the Fall, and we find some varied measure of that release demonstrated here. We rejoice in the potential while longing for the final redemption that takes us out of this shadowy existence into the full light of divine clarity. For some limited time, He keeps us here and we cannot possibly grasp while here the full reason for it. What we can grasp is the utter necessity of wading through this Vale of Sorrow with an eye for ways to glorify Him.

We don’t fight the Curse itself, but we fight whatever it is within us that belongs to the Curse. The Curse remains a part of our existence here because this existence itself is accursed. There will never be a Heaven on earth in any concrete sense; only in the symbolism of our redeemed awareness. The earth itself is not fallen, but we are. We are born under a forfeit to Satan’s dominion over a Creation we were meant to manage for God’s glory. Our fallen presence is how Satan exercises his dominion here where he is confined. We quickly run out of room to explain it in human language; our minds cannot bear the load of such truth because they remain partially under the Curse.

Even the pronouncement of the Curse in Genesis 3 is full of symbols because it is written in Heaven. It characterizes our moral reality while we live in this form here below. The Curse marks a powerful distinction between male and female. This isn’t how it should be for us, but redemption is certainly not found in denying the Curse nor demanding that such distinction be removed. The distinction is a part of the conditions we accept in the challenge to bring Him glory until the final, ultimate moment of eternal glory. A critical element in revelation is both the symbolism which puts the ultimate truth within our moral reach, and the necessity of understanding that we are limited and must reach, indeed.

Throughout human history, beginning very close to the exit from Eden through which humans were expelled, humans have sought to argue with God. The Fall itself was a dispute with God, a decision to usurp the authority God said did not belong to us. Our fundamental fallen nature rests on the native inclination to insist that we are capable of defining what is good and right, that our human reason and understanding is sufficient to discern ultimate truth without having to rest on God’s living communion with us. And a critical element in this endless dispute our fallen nature has with God is a rejection of the natural moral order imposed by His revelation on the distinction between male and female.

Whatever it ought to have been, we bear the responsibility for not keeping it there. In the very act of eating the forbidden fruit, we have passed judgment on God’s declared order of how the sexes are to relate. We are born rebelling against what is in our best interest because we imagine that we could come up with a better way of doing things. We are telling God that if this is what He put into place, He certainly could have done a better job and we proceed to tell Him what’s wrong with His plan by acting contrary to that plan. So a part of the Curse is that things will never be perfect in how the male and female relate while here in this world.

The best we can hope for is still pretty messy. There is a sense in which we cannot possibly live long enough to shed enough of our fallen nature to ever get it quite right. Even if we could get it right, it would never feel quite right. We can strive for perfection, but we have to learn to live with optimal, and optimal includes a certain amount of tension.

(Yes, the title of this post is a pun.)

The Heart of Church History

Church History as an academic pursuit is mostly a matter of grasping the politics of organized religion. It’s sheer idiocy to assume politics have no place in the church; our biggest problem is that people have rejected the political structure God designed for His people. When you understand that we as humans are hard-wired to benefit most from Eastern feudal organization, it’s not hard to see where the Church went wrong. A history of flawed practice and theology arises mostly from closing off the heart-mind awareness.

I’ve noted in my discussion of The Cult that a primary objective of the Judaizers was just that — destroying heart-led religion. The reliance on heart-mind awareness was simply a fundamental assumption in most of the cultural background of the entire Ancient Near East. This faculty is what lies behind the academic term “mysticism” that describes the non-rational approach of ancient Hebrew wisdom and scholarship. The rabbinical colleges didn’t simply go Greek, but they allowed the influence of Aristotle’s epistemology to turn their Hebrew religion into legalism. The fundamental element of legalism is making a god of the written record or revelation. Following this to its logical conclusion, you can find today Talmudic quotations that insist God is obliged to adhere to Scripture as if it took away His divine prerogatives to have it recorded. (Worse, the Talmud claims precedence over the Old Testament as Scripture.) This was an idea carried over from Medo-Persian imperial policy (the earliest recorded incidence of such thinking) and wholly foreign to a more ancient Hebrew approach. In the end, Jehovah is no longer the living God, but a weak caricature of Jewish imagination.

Being able to trace such influences is a fundamental element in History in general, and Church History in particular. The only problem is that we are constrained by the evidence, mostly written records. Against that we are weighed down by a massive burden of popular speculation that arises from some distinct agenda. Noting this is in itself a matter for Church History, too. Don’t let my blather here give the impression that I have some overwhelming expertise that you are not permitted to question. I’m quite willing to explain where my ideas come from because I don’t take myself that seriously; I don’t view my ideas and teaching as somehow the purest manifestation of God’s revelation. By the same token, don’t be offended if I happen to associate your contrasting ideas with something you might not like. Few of us are so completely original as to claim all our ideas as somehow born first in our imaginations. We choose what works best in seeking to obey God; that’s what religion means.

In my religion, if you indicate an affinity for subjecting your reason to the convictions of your heart, I have no fear that you will somehow develop a religion that threatens mine. In my religion, convictions are planted in your soul by God. You spend the whole of your earthly existence trying to make sense of those convictions so that you can obey them. That’s what it means to be heart-led. That shouldn’t be a threat to other religions, but you and I know that the majority of organized religion won’t tolerate that approach. That’s because most mainstream religion is about control, not setting you free from false moral constraints.

So you can see in my article on The Cult that a primary element in the collapse of genuine New Testament religion is the political impulses of the Pharisees who killed our Savior. While there was certainly some measure of vengeance and hatred behind their determination to stamp out genuine discipleship in following Christ, the impulse is wired into all fallen souls. We drag it out into the light so we can seek to understand it and avoid it. Most of humanity simply assumes it’s natural in a good sense and never questions the impulse. So we see the Judaizers and their sly efforts to lead new converts back into slavery to the Talmud. Part of that effort was smothering the heart-led faith before it really got rolling, and chaining the Christian religion to the same legalism that ruled Judaism.

That influence took deep root in organized Christian religion. Once religion was dependent on reason, there was nothing to protect the mission. The gospel rests entirely on awakening the awareness and moving consciousness into the heart. We look back across the ruined landscape of Church History and see the claw marks left by this beast. For example, who doesn’t recognize the stamp of The Cult on the Jesuits? Why does the Roman Church need their own FBI-CIA agency like that? What the hell are they protecting? There’s nothing heavenly about that. But somewhere along the path, the Roman Church concluded that whatever “the Fall” means, the human intellect is not fallen. Thus, the heart is replaced by reason once again, taking us right back to the Fall itself in Eden. So all you to worry about is bunch of bad habits that the Church hierarchy will gladly correct for you with their magisterial powers.

I’m not saying that the Roman Church is wholly evil and useless. I won’t tell you that your heart cannot possibly lead you to hang out in that system. What would happen if all the good people left the Church? Better that we have some heart-led folk infiltrate every part of the human world, not in secrecy, but wrapped in the mystery of God’s ineffable truth. We need that glorious witness everywhere, like salt and light.

Satan and the Fall

We see “the Serpent” in Genesis 3, and it’s just a poetic term for Satan. The Hebrew word for “snake” is nakawsh (naw-kawsh) — doesn’t that sound like a snake? Say it drawing out the last syllable for dramatic emphasis. Yet Paul says he was an “Angel of Light” (2 Corinthians 7:14). In the Garden, Eve instinctively recognized him as a person of authority. If we compare this scene with the opening paragraphs of Job, we begin to get a picture of someone who was allowed to come and go on the Earth at will, had tremendous power, and yet was accountable to God. Further, he had some access the God’s throne room, and seemed familiar with the protocols for addressing God.

Next, we look at Isaiah 14 where we get the name “Lucifer” — an English rendering of the Greek translation of Hebrew Scripture. The poetic lines of condemnation for Nebuchadnezzar (vv. 12-15) sound a great deal like the condemnation against the “King of Tyre” in Ezekiel 28:11-19. In the case of Tyre, we know for a fact that there was never any person bearing the title “King” over Tyre. There was a Prince (more accurately translated “leader from among the people”). We also know that the Prince was simultaneously the high priest of a very nasty religion. In the eyes of Hebrew prophets, the heathen god a people worshipped was their true ruler. For centuries, Bible scholars have said that this passage in Ezekiel could only be about Satan. Keep in mind, that there is a sense in which every pagan god and goddess was merely a front for a demon (1 Corinthians 10:19-20) when it involved genuine worship. It’s not too much of a stretch to see Tyre’s demon as Satan himself.

If you chase down the passages in Scripture regarding Satan (AKA Lucifer, the Enemy, the Accuser, etc.) and piece them together, you get a feel for this character. Seen as a whole, they describe one who, at first was the “Covering Cherub” of God. Try to imagine that few in Creation can bear the presence of God Himself, without losing their created form (i.e., they die). Thus, someone had to be a cloak to shield Creation. God created a special being to handle the task. This meant that all traffic/communication between God and Creation had to pass through this Living Cloak. No surprise that this being got a big head over his unique status, and tried to skim off some of that glory and praise meant for God, and keep it for himself.

Is this not the same thing the prophets denounced in the latter days of the Covenant? The Chosen People took themselves too seriously, convinced they were God’s gift to Creation. They forgot that they were simply the chosen messengers; they forgot that Israel the Nation was supposed to be Israel the Message. So while Jesus did encounter a few folks who remembered this (Luke 2:25-32) in His time, you would think they were a tiny minority. Today you can read and study the Talmud, if you get your hands on an honest translation that hasn’t cut out all the embarrassing stuff, and be told that only Jews are actually human, while the rest of us are animals.

You’ll have to decide for yourself how much this affects the way Jews as a whole and Jews individually interact with the rest of us. Compare that with Anglo-Saxon arrogance or any other presumption of superiority we encounter on this earth. It’s human nature because it comes from the Fall; it’s part the fundamental attraction in Satan’s sales pitch to Eve about the Forbidden Fruit. We are born with a reflex to measure all things by our own internal chatter. Our assumptions are surely so sensible; how could anything think differently?

When Satan came to visit Adam and Eve, he had already suffered the demotion from Covering Cherub to Divine Jailer. The only way he could prosper now was to increase the occupancy of his jail. The primary seduction was suckering folks into his own mistake. This business of presuming that human reason is sufficient to answer all the important questions of “life the universe and everything” is the very essence of the Fall. This is what puts us in the jail, because it is contrary to cosmic reality, contrary to the moral fabric of Creation, and contrary to God’s moral character. The nature of sin itself is arguing with God.