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.