The proper religious term for what we do here is “Christian Mysticism.” In terms of philosophy, it’s “Ancient Near Eastern epistemology” (that should choke up a few folks). Within a rather small circle of people, like those who’ve read this blog for awhile, we can call it “heart-led living.” In more traditional religious vernacular, it involves the idea that “conviction trumps reason.” In biblical terms it’s simply “faith,” but we all know that most mainstream Christians invest that term with a lot of false baggage.
There can be no snappy marketing terms for what we do. The very nature of our approach militates against such a thing. While I gladly offer my approach to religion for your inspection, we aren’t building a religious organization with all the trappings of a typical denomination. You cannot market a personal communion with the Creator of all things when it rests entirely on His initiative. We don’t need a bunch of converts who buy into our brand because we aren’t the solution. There is no total package, no affiliates, partnerships — nothing. I’m asking you to move your the focus of your conscious awareness outside the constraints of your intellect so that you can sense reality directly in moral terms. I can’t put that in a neat package.
What we do offer is a chance to break down the barriers that keep you from seeking God’s face directly. If anything, you could probably characterize what I do here as the psychological demolition leading to a fresh building. Aside from showing you with my personal example what kind of faith you could have, I’m not building anything for others. The closest I come to concrete action is pointing out things you should dismantle in your own mind so that you can find your own foundation for building.
The foundation is already there; you have to find it. This is what certain pagan groups refer to as finding “your true will.” There’s no way we can strip down to nothing; the human mind has to work with some frame of reference. It’s a process of discarding things that are obviously not appropriate. There comes a turning point where you begin to recognize yourself with a sense of clarity that defies description. That’s where you begin to discover who God made you to be. There’s a certain mixture of givens, things He controls for you, and a lot choices where He’s waiting for you to make a move.
And the process never ends. The configuration that works for today may not fit tomorrow. This is how we begin to discern between tools and core nature. Some things about you will never change, but there’s plenty that you should treat as transient. As time goes on, you’ll be surprised at where that boundary line can be drawn.
Given the totality of what I see for myself right now, I think it’s time to work harder at Christian religion directly. In my world here in Central Oklahoma in the USA, that means trying to help mainstream Christians escape. Not so much that they flee from churches and various religious organizations, but to escape from the mental restrictions that define the American Christian religious landscape. It means I’ll be giving more space to discussion of how we can break down the restraints. It will be primarily in terms of pointing out to believers that they are wedded to a religion that grew from Enlightenment philosophy, and that the common Enlightenment approach to things does not reflect what Jesus taught.
Yes, I know that Catholics are more from the Scholastic period and Thomism, and a great many churches are from the Reformed traditions, but the overwhelming ambiance of modern American religion is shaped by Enlightenment assumptions about how we should actually do religion in our daily lives — if at all. America is still deeply inflicted with the kind of moral and rational approach to life that has never quite escaped the influence of the Enlightenment.
Religion is what humans do in response to some divine sense of necessity. Religion doesn’t fall down from Heaven; faith burning you heart is an internal sign of Heaven’s call. Jesus didn’t found your religion. He was a Hebrew guy who had to deal with Jewish religion. Religion doesn’t give you faith. Your religion is not your faith; religion is an expression, an earthly human manifestation of faith. If people are confused about the difference between religion and faith, then you can bet that their religion is not working for them. We have to push aside all the assumptions about religion and what it should be until we lay bare the sense of conviction that makes religion necessary.
Folks can stay in their current religious setting; if it’s wrong for them in God’s eyes, He can and will tell them. That’s His prerogative. My focus is helping them grasp that where they are is not where Jesus walked. And a lot of it has to do with redefining the terms they already use. It will sound like criticism only in that I’m hoping to point out that what they say doesn’t mean what they have been taught it means. It’s frankly less about theology and more about philosophical assumptions. I want people to stop trusting reason, human talents or human tradition to find God’s face. It’s more about moving to the place to which He calls you.
Thus, while I’m still wide open to being pastor/elder to anyone at all, including pagans, agnostics, atheists and whatever, I’m going to spend less time addressing them directly and more time trying to reach mainstream American Christians, or anyone in the world deeply influenced by American Christianity. As before, I’m not interested in picking on churches and leaders so much as the underlying structure on which they stand. I have no expectation of changing anyone’s mind or fixing their problems in that sense. The Bible tells us God uses our conduct and conversation to touch whom He will; I’m just seeking to offer an honest expression of His calling on me.
So I’m guessing you’ll see more stuff about convictions and discerning what God made you to be. It seems to me the established psychology of tracing your conscience back to something more substantial, so that your conscience makes more sense, is more likely to help my audience than other approaches I might take.
To the degree you identify with what I’m doing here, I’d love to hear from you in terms of troublesome encounters. Not so much the drama of verbal conflict, but things you experience that strike you as somehow broken, not quite morally proper. Otherwise, I’ll just post about what catches my attention.
I started this blog some 8+ years ago because I can’t be silent about what God is doing in my life. You can’t have my religion; you have to build your own. Some of you do share a lot of my religion. More of you share the broader outline of my sense of faith. God alone knows, but I suppose most of you simply find this entertaining on some level. All well and good, but it’s important that you know what you’re getting here. I’m not selling anything, just obeying my own sense of conviction.