We are more radical than radicals.
The world “radical” implies a plan to cut things back to the very roots and try to grow a better crop the next time. What we do here in our parish is more like plowing up the old roots and planting something entirely different. There is a very real sense in which we seek to pass back into the Garden of Eden, to embrace that Flaming Sword and leave this whole world behind, because Eden was never on this earth.
In my book, Heart of Faith, I laid out in chapter 2 the science that admits to some manifestation of the ancient truth of Scripture about learning to operate from a heart of conviction (rough draft posted here). Yes, I have some of the source documents for that science on my FTP server, and I can email copies of that stuff at your request. The sad part is that most of the people involved in that research are still stuck in the West, and have no real idea how to use that information. If you take what they say as they say it, you won’t get very far. I’m hoping that you don’t need that much proof to enter the world of heart-led living. I’m hoping you are already primed and waiting to hear it so you can seize upon it and use it.
Most of the people you encounter in any given context will be like the scientists who know the facts but not the truth. You can sit down with a reporter and give them all these facts, and maybe you have enough data to help them see how it relates to the biblical approach to thinking from the heart, but you cannot begin to explain conviction to them. They know the word, but unless they have experienced the hand of God awakening their spirits, they won’t know conviction itself. That is, unless they know it already.
Our world is populated with two broad types of humans. A few will have that sense of awareness, either potentially or fully engaged. Indeed, most of them will be in the potential stage. But the other type we call “not today.” They might have it later, but God alone knows because God alone holds the key to awakening dead spirits to life. But in our daily awareness as heart-led people, we have our sensory heart attuned to discerning whether they are like us not. We have the Law Covenants to help us grasp a broad sense how to deal with those folks who are not like us. Our hearts will know how to make use of the guidance in the Laws beacuse the Laws are parabolic in nature. But a few will have those Laws written in their hearts as conviction, and we can deal with them on a heart-to-heart basis.
And everyone who doesn’t have that will think we are being elitist. You can try to explain it, but that’s how they’ll receive it. They’ll think we are cultic, that we are trying to hide the truth of all the crazy things we do behind closed doors. We can make a good faith effort to remain totally open and exposed to investigation and inspection, but a dead spirit can’t discern spiritual truth.
If we could spend a while together in class, I could show you how it wasn’t always like this. There was a time and place where the prevailing culture made room for heart-led living. That might not have raised the count of those who had a full connection between heart and mind, but there was a presumption that it was the norm for human life. Much of the Bible presumes this awareness and has harsh words for those who don’t even try. The Bible stands as such in a much wider Ancient Near Eastern culture that shared such a presumption. This is the same bunch of folks who built ziggurats and pyramids and things we don’t even know about. Indeed, we still grasp how they arrived at the placement of these structures, and are only vaguely aware academically that they used some kind of calculus long lost to us. Heart-led awareness hardly hinders math and science; they aren’t incompatible. The failure of the West is much more fundamental. The West wants all the benefits and none of the moral responsibilities, and I can tell you that some portion of the ancient achievements were built on a sense of moral awareness. The West rejects such a thing a priori.
I won’t suggest that heart-led living solves all the problems. Some of the ANE cultures that were ostensibly heart-led could also be morally depraved. So awakening the heart-mind link isn’t sufficient to find Christ, but necessary to serve Him fully. Where the ancients got lost was what Christ came to resolve, and it’s a side of His mission on earth that no one understands without that heart-mind connection. Previous to the Cross, you had to wade through a lot of learning that presumed a heart-mind link before you might find a spiritual connection with God. People did experience spiritual birth and Jesus’ mentioned at a presumed necessity for Old Testament religion. That interview in John 3 was a discussion of life under the Law of Moses. But Jesus came and offered that connection up-front so that you could do all that learning afterward. Today what we call “born-again” refers to that free entry into the heart-led way.
So can you see how Western culture has crippled that? We have millions of church folk presuming they have that heart-led spiritual connection to God because it’s been packaged as a cerebral (psychological) conversion. It’s been dumbed down. I refer to this condition as “spiritually stillborn” — morally dead and powerless. How do you convince someone who is “born-again” by mere conversion that they really aren’t spiritually alive? It stinks to them of arrogance. And among those who probably could get it because they are spiritually alive, it still sounds alien and foreign to their lifetime pickling in a cerebral religion. In other words, they are spiritually alive but still crippled without a conscious awareness of the heart-mind.
We have an uphill battle to make our case. At the very minimum we have to manifest a power over moral failure that these people recognize but don’t have. The quickest way to grab their attention is genuine heart-led moral power for living. That mystical otherworldly emphasis is our single most powerful tool. That’s where His glory shines brightest. So my whole point in all this blather is to encourage a change to a more glorious life, so that even if they intellectually dismiss our talk, they can’t ignore our power. With that moral power comes a vivid response from Creation as a whole, and all kinds of things they don’t expect to see will follow us around. Yes, it means you will experience genuine miracles that defy any kind of earthly logic. Most of them will be invisible, but if you mention a heart-led prayer request and God fulfills it, people will know that God favors you. That’s the one form of elitism no one can complain about.
Let’s make this commonplace among ourselves. Let’s build something that no one else has, not by the subterfuge of ginning up something weird, but reclaiming something men threw away long ago. It’s still there in the dust, waiting for us to put it back to work. It’s bigger and more powerful than the Pyramids, because those piles of sandstone will eventually crumble. Genuine conviction from the Spirit-spirit communion outlasts the universe.
Yeah, it’s a radical proposal.