We do not trust the intellect alone to arrive at verity. The mind is self-deceived, holding a truculent insistence that it can be objective, yet the very structure of its efforts aim to please the fallen nature in all of us. This is what John calls “the boastful pride of life” — a clumsy translation, but we get the point (1 John 2:16). It is the arrogance of truculent self-assertion, that one can arrive at ultimate reality through one’s own talents and powers of reason. It is the siren song of being one’s own god. We have found this false; we have discovered that there is a higher faculty lying quiescent in the soul of humans. It is quiescent until it connects to the Source of all things, our Creator.
For us, relying on biblical imagery, we refer to this higher faculty, brought to life by that eternal link to our Maker, as the heart. We find that it holds to an entirely other form of logic, a reasoning that asserts a moral sphere of perception that is not within reach of senses and mind, but requires the superior sensory powers of the heart itself. Even then, it’s just a parable of how these things work, because it’s above knowing and telling. It is the mind’s best estimate of how to deal with that higher moral reasoning. We start from the assumption that we can’t really know, only that we must proceed with some fear and trembling, knowing that the results will always bear the mark of our fallen nature.
The mind quite naturally reconnects to the heart and can instinctively submit to that superior guidance. It’s just that the mind must unlearn that boastful pride of life, and its previously stained trust in the lust of the eyes and lust of the flesh. We must break down the old structures of authority and operation (2 Corinthians 10:5). The heart takes the intellect captive, and drives the mind to consider all reality from a different angle. We call it heart-led living.
It’s not just words, either. We insist that implementing this will force a radical change in perception and action. We are forced to confront a whole world of idolatries. In the final analysis, we are forced to pull away from the majority of organized Christian religion. Those organizations would inevitably find our teaching a threat. It means dissolving the authority structure on which they rest, and by which their leadership controls the identity and actions of the organizations.
The path we propose makes each and every individual responsible for their own religion. It elevates the individual believer far higher than any other way of doing religion. We don’t even really have leaders in the traditional sense, just people who seem to have a talent for telling their own story of faith. And a part of that telling is the assumption, if not the bald assertion, that this is my story, not yours. Overlap as much as you need, but you hold a duty before God Almighty to tell your own story.
In this mess of life after the fall and centuries of human activity struggling to displace God from His throne, we find that there are things we can share even with this radical vision of uniquely individual faith. We form bonds with each other. It’s the paradox of lasting warmth and friendship mixed with the tentative nature of shared experience. That is, we always recognize the essential nature of this thing that requires we huddle together against the Darkness even as we realize no two of us will have the exact same way of resisting it.
We find that what has come before in terms of church — the gathering of like-minded believers — has been too restrictive and too regimented. It’s less like a household and more like a corporation. We are repelled by the way genuine heart-led faith has become captive by far too much compromise, and how the organization enforces a range of compromise that is no longer quite voluntary. It seems to us that the tools of subtle manipulation have raised false choices based on the old fallen brand of hyper-competitive tribalism.
That’s a form of religion that pulls faith too far back down into the fallen human mind, making individual believers excessively dependent on mere human resources. We cannot allow what we do to represent yet one more ball-n-chain in a world that is itself a dungeon. We intend to set people free. In the process, we build a religion that openly encourages people to come and go as they sense their own leading from God. No one is really in charge beyond the barest necessities for acting together as one body at any given moment. Somebody has to lead when human bodies gather in one space so that we can avoid chaos and physical harm, but that does not mean anyone leads in the resulting decisions of faith.
In our online setting, it means even less control, because there are no herds of bodies involved. It’s just one guy running a blog and folks coming to read as they see fit, and associating more closely or not on that same basis. Thus, we link to blogs run by other guys and gals and who, for as long as they see it appropriate, link back to this one. And de-linking need not signal anything more than that it’s time to move on to other things. Whatever set of human circumstances that bring about that decision really isn’t important.
When I announce that some Brother or Sister is an associate elder with me, that’s not to compel your trust in them, but to signal my trust in their expression of faith. It signals that we are close enough in religious thought and action to work together in helping others find their own unique faith. It’s entirely practical. And from one hour to the next, the vagaries of human response to the call of faith might mean that our level of human closeness may vary in the normal range of emotional intensity.
So here’s a reminder: Kiln of the Soul is the organized ministry of a handful of people who associate closely as a covenant family. It’s rather like the name of your local parish, and the label that appears on the meeting house. It signals a closeness in thought and expression, a long term community of shared faith. We stay together because we can tolerate each other quite well enough to make the most of shalom in a single household, as it were. It builds an interdependence that none of us easily departs.
Radix Fidem is the label we put on a far wider association of people who tend to approach the basic question of religion in similar fashion. It’s our virtual denomination. We may not be able to easily harmonize our daily activities together, but we get along well enough to be friends. We take each other in smaller doses, but are still bound together in faith. Goodness knows, writing style is so critical to what we do online that it is sufficient by itself to justify being closer to, or farther from, anyone.
Again, it’s just a matter of pragmatism. Nobody should be painted as a sinner for moving farther away, regardless of the reason. We reserve negative labels for those who actively attack, and seek to hinder, our freedom in Christ to seek His glory. Nobody is morally superior for appearing to move closer, since they could be an infiltrating agent. All the more so in a virtual parish like this one, the whole thing is a living and growing creature that morphs daily in one way or another without asking anyone’s permission. And by all means, you should never trust my judgment without taking your own second look. My meat could be your poison; you have to discern that on your own heart-mind linkage with the Holy Spirit.