What we propose here is a radical transformation of how we do religion.
In philosophical terms, religion is a human response to some higher spiritual drive. It’s not that we suggest the various religions of the world are all a valid human response, but we do suggest that the spiritual drive is universal. What men do with it is another matter.
If you examine the vast array of human religions from a Western anthropology perspective, both current and historical, you realize that virtually every religion has always reflected the cultural context, and vice versa. We’ve already discussed in previous chapters how the religion of the Bible seems totally unconnected with the culture of people who claim that religion today. The Bible is an ANE document, Christ was a Hebrew man, and Christianity is in that sense an eastern religion. Yet, American Christianity in all it’s dominant forms bears virtually no resemblance to any eastern religion; the former is too cerebral, while the latter is vigorously mystical.
It is fairly well established that American culture is the long end product of various cultural influences that culminated in the Enlightenment. In terms of a priori assumptions about reality, little has changed since that philosophical and cultural revolution swept Europe and the British Isles. In case you weren’t aware: The Enlightenment was the birth of secularism in the West. America was born from that secularism, and every branch of Christian religion born or reformed in America reflects that. Thus, the dominant theme and a priori assumptions of virtually every American Christian are very, very far away from what stood behind Christ and His teachings.
So we have your basic American Christian assumption that “American values” (however they are defined) are “Christian” values. This is blatantly false. It’s very easy to find ancient Hebrew customs that are illegal in the US because those practices are radically different from Anglo-Saxon and Enlightenment assumptions about what is moral. Yet Jesus clearly stood on the ancient Hebrew customs. This is not a question of modernity and social advancement versus a barbaric past; it’s a fundamentally different outlook on morality.
While we can dismiss some purely contextual elements such as clothing styles, or the vernacular of common greetings in public, we cannot ignore the fundamental difference in assumptions about what pleases God. You cannot call Medieval chivalry manners “Christian” without insulting Christ, because the essence of nobility is radically different between the ancient Hebrew sheiks and Medieval knights. There are but a few superficial similarities based on shared fallen human nature, but a very substantial difference in the fundamentals.
I’ll cite one very obvious example: The Hebrew people would frown on the idea of copyright. Hebrew writers would never sign their names to their writings except for public declarations and private correspondence. Everyone could read, but actual writing was an expensive and rare skill. Virtually none of the prophets could actually write, so they relied on scribes who were free to put down in writing a more easily read flow of narrative than the precise words that spilled from the prophet’s mouth. The vast majority of ancient Hebrew literature was anonymous. That was a common practice throughout the ANE. Literature belonged to the people, the nation, or the gods, but was not the personal property of the author.
And only in the rarest of situations would they care the least about precise word-for-word copying and translation. For example, replacing obsolete place-names was common when making copies. Despite the Jewish mythology of prodigious acts of word-for-word memorization, we have ample evidence that the New Testament writers were quite comfortable quoting from the very loose Greek translation of the Old Testament that we call Septuagint. Moreover, they often made a free rendering of that. Think about that: The Apostles themselves didn’t pick over precise wording in quoting from the Old Testament. Their only concern was capturing the essence of it in the context to which they applied it. That’s because the written record was subservient to the heart-led awareness of what really mattered.
You cannot gain God’s divine favor by taking an American approach to religion.
Some portion of the packaging of God’s revelation is essential to the revelation itself. That much should be obvious. We have already established the Radix Fidem requires a heart-led approach, and presumes you are spirit born. It also assumes that the combined power of those two elements will result in taking seriously the Bible in its own cultural and historical context. That is, you must have that context or you don’t have the Bible, and you simply must take seriously what the Bible requires of you as a record of God’s revelation. We who embrace the covenant of Radix Fidem cannot imagine how you could be heart-led and spirit-born without manifesting a reverence for the Bible.
Furthermore, you cannot convince us you belong unless you manifest a powerful sense of penitence in the face of the Scripture. The Holy Spirit will not dispute with Scripture, because that’s how we know about Christ. There’s all kinds of room for debate and discussion about what repentance demands of us in terms of conduct, but if you can’t fall on your face before a holy Savior, you cannot pretend you are one of us. By the same token, you cannot hope to understand Him without taking the heart-led path.
Once you reconnect to Creation and reality as God reveals it, your heart will demand you change your attitude about certain things. You will realize that reality itself is organized on ANE feudal lines. You will instinctively know you live under a feudal expectation from God and His Creation. Every problem with human life on this planet is rooted in the failure to live in a feudal society with extended family households. God made us tribal by nature, and nothing we can dream up will work better.
Further, everything is personal. Creation itself is personal, and you cannot reduce a person to mere words. What we do have is symbolic language that we must treat all Creation, as a whole and in every detail down to subatomic particles, as living, sentient and willful. Moses commanded the sun to “stand still” over the Valley of Aijalon, and commanded a rock to produce water. Jesus spoke to the trees, storms, diseases, people’s bodies and demons. Get a clue; they took it seriously that elements of Creation must be treated as persons.
By extension of these two ideas — all things are personal and reality is feudal — we know that everything and everybody in this world is under someone’s personal ownership. There can be no fiction of public or corporate ownership, yet any property can be shared as part of a family. Every one of us holds a domain granted by God as our feudal Lord. Personal domains can overlap and there are protocols for handling that, but some particular individual is always responsible to God for everything and everyone.
We could go on, but it’s best to you let your mind chew on that for awhile. Your heart should seize upon this much instinctively. If you can embrace these truths, we are confident your heart will build a much better view of reality in your mind. This is a good starting point for correcting a host of perversions in the American understanding of Biblical Law.
Once you plant the roots in the right soil, the truth of God will cascade through your life, putting all things in their proper place.