Kiln of the Soul is the oddball name I came up with some two decades ago as a name for my ministry. It’s never been incorporated under any laws, and that’s intentional; it’s part of our identity.
Any physical congregation that grows up around my work will be called “Kiln of the Soul.” Because this blog and this virtual parish is an extension of that ministry, it bears the same name. The title of the blog –“Do What’s Right” — simply reflects my feeble attempt at marketing, because the bottom line is helping people understand what is morally right, and how to find the power to live by it. If you develop your own ministry, nothing keeps you from using the same name I do, but you would have to realize it might be confusing. To make it easier, I chose another name for our particular kind of religion: “Radix Fidem.” I wrote up a Radix Fidem pamphlet (PDF) to introduce it, and a longer booklet (PDF) explaining it in more detail.
It’s not a matter of orthodoxy. A critical element in our teaching here is that you are responsible for coming up with your own beliefs. Nobody has to declare this as their own personal creed. I wrote the material; it is my creed. But just like any Ancient Near Eastern feudal family household, in order to be a part of the household where I am the elder, you have to be able to say, “I can live with that.” This is a written record of our covenant; we all agree to proceed on the basis of what that says. It’s no different from saying you can live with me as head of household.
It so happens my personal style is very libertarian, in the sense that I operate with very lax controls. I make room for a lot of dissent. I’ll tell you that I do have two doctrinal points I consider utterly essential for keeping peace with me and everyone else in our household of faith. One: We are accountable to the Bible (using the Protestant canon). That means you take seriously your obligation to what it says and you won’t attempt to pass judgment on the message. We still have a lot of room to debate what it demands of us, and that’s the whole point in my whole approach to seeking a Hebraic mind for understanding the Scripture. We can debate how it applies, but if you suggest you are exempt from obeying the Bible, you are not family. Two: It is utterly essential that you operate on the basis of sacrificial love and compassion with the other members of the family.
The reason for that should be obvious in one sense, but it rests on yet one other issue which cannot be made doctrinal: the heart-led way. I’ve published a whole book on what that phrase means. I realize just how hard it is to disentangle ourselves from the Western assumption that the heart is a metaphor of sentiment, however strongly held. The Bible says the heart is the seat of conviction, faith, an acute moral awareness that is superior to the intellect. The brain wants to establish what something is and what we should do with it, but the heart knows instinctively what really matters in the first place. And because we have a whole lifetime of social conditioning to ignore the heart and place the intellect on the throne of decision, it takes some time and effort to subject your mind to the heart.
You see, we humans are fallen, but the rest of Creation is not. We were designed by God to manage Creation on His behalf, but we lost that authority when we chose to place the intellect on the throne. We can access that authority only when the heart rules and we are driven by a personal commitment to God as Lord of all things. We have to overcome a whole world of people who ignore the heart, and make a conscious effort to restore things to what God intended.
I cannot imagine how you can restore the heart to the throne without awakening an awareness that Creation is alive, sentient and willful. Creation is a person, altogether at once, and each element, all the way down do the subatomic particles. Each is a unique individual, with an awareness and will, and all of it remains unfallen. However, it also is now unmanaged because we allowed the Devil to fool us and accepted his story about how things should go. When you restore the heart, you become aware of Creation as your friend and ally, and you can begin working on restoring how Adam and Eve managed the Garden of Eden without the “sweat of the brow” physical labor. We are supposed to reunite with the natural world around us as long lost family. Creation is eager to cooperate, and if you can’t sense that, then you can’t sense properly how to deal with your fellow humans, who are also part of Creation. I teach that, but it’s not doctrine, per se; it’s an orientation of soul. That’s what we mean by “heart-led.”
So I can’t make heart-led a requirement, but if you don’t have it, you can only hope to fake your way through things. You won’t be able to keep up, and I really cannot imagine how you would swallow half of what your elder says we need to do as a household together. On the other hand, it’s not magic. I am utterly convinced anyone living, and capable of understanding what I write, can recover the heart-led power within their own soul. A surprising number of people are just a step away from it already, and need only hear or read the teaching to realize it was there all the time. Membership in our household of faith presumes you are heart-led.
You can still work with us without all of that. It makes you more like a volunteer supporter (“servant”). And if all you can do is just admire our work from a safe distance, you are an ally. Everyone else in the world is neutral (don’t know/care) or an enemy. It’s not for me to brand people; it’s more a matter of recognizing roles. You’ll notice there is almost nothing similar to most membership procedures you’ll encounter with other religious groups. Your role is a matter of how you engage or don’t. You decide your level of involvement, when and for how long. If I don’t know you’re there, it’s hard to love you and care for you.
That’s Kiln of the Soul.