In a virtual parish like ours, most of you don’t notice it, but we have plenty of folks hanging around who really don’t belong. If this were an actual church meeting together in some facility in meat space, you would see it up close and in your face. It’s not possible to have anything like a church that doesn’t include a bunch of folks who don’t seem to have “it.” This is what the Parable of the Sower is about, and it applied to Old Testament Israel, as well.
In fact, throughout most of Israel’s history, the bulk of the nation was just going through the motions. To the degree we emphasize the continuity between the Old and New Testaments, this is simply part of the experience that no one escapes. Under any covenant you can imagine, there will always be folks involved who just don’t get it. Some of you with families who aren’t yet into the heart-led way can see why this is so. You may be head of household, and you can by strong persuasion gain a measure of compliance with the teachings of Radix Fidem, but there is nothing you can do to drag them across that invisible boundary into the invisible Kingdom of Hearts.
Having a pure congregation of true believers is not an option. Get used to it, folks. We are still operating in a fallen world. This is why we still have to understand politics. You will always have to engage political theory to manage a church. This is also why churches where authority is spread across the body democratically are churches that cannot be led by true believers for very long, unless the true believers have gained and keep a lock on how the congregation does business. You will either understand and use political power, or it will abuse you. The same goes with presbyterial churches and their elitist system; factions will always be an issue. And the old European style of magisterial church government is subject to factions in the upper hierarchy that binds the churches together. Whichever of these routes you choose, you end up with churches run by those who don’t get what church is really all about. God pastors are ousted, truly spirit-led teachers are silenced, etc.
Any system we develop cannot prevent that kind of political nonsense eclipsing the spiritual purpose of a church. On the other hand, there is one system God revealed: the shepherd system with the leadership divided between ceremonial (priest) and managerial (elder) shepherds. You can attempt to institutionalize those roles and destroy that system as well, just as Israel often went astray as a whole. But if there is any hope of things working at all, you have to stick with that original design. It’s inherently feudal and rests on a covenant. And it must remain small and tribal in nature to avoid the cancer of bad leadership spreading too easily. There should be no denominations. We know fallen people can’t resist organizing, so we learn to expect individual churches pulling together around false principles, but we can make it difficult.
What we really aim for is not some pervasive teaching of doctrine and practice that can somehow forestall going astray, but the preservation of the heart-led way in just a few individuals here and there. When God is ready, and for His own inscrutable plans, He will put those folks in leadership and things will move in a good path. And when the cycle of depravity comes around again, someone will begin exploiting the unavoidable weak spots in a good system and lock it into fleshly pursuits. Don’t pretend it won’t happen with Radix Fidem; that’s just part of reality viewed in the long term.
The system and organization is not the point. The point is that true believers are left with a legacy of understanding so they can act appropriately regardless of the contextual changes. This is why Radix Fidem isn’t really a religion, per se, but a meta-religion — a religious study of how religion works. We seek to distill the wisdom of God in forthright discussion within our current temporal context so that a living body of truth can rise up to walk among us and befriend a few of us. We aim to preserve that core of true believers, regardless of their situation. We do this for them. That way, when the time comes that the Lord moves in some hearts, there is a reference point and they aren’t all alone.
We don’t glorify being loners. It’s simply that we know that’s how God does things in our fallen world. Any of you who find one — just one — spiritual brother or sister in meat space, you have the greatest treasure on this earth. So it’s rather precious if we can find any folks at all with just half the inclination to follow this path, and we are compelled to encourage them as much as we are able. But don’t ever lose sight of the bigger picture. At any given time in human history between now and the time our Lord returns, there will be an ebb and flow of heart-led activity.
A critical element in the teaching of Radix Fidem will be the recognition of politics and how it works, so that we enable people to know how to do what God calls them to do. There must always be shepherds with the wisdom of God to understand fallen human behavior because you cannot escape such people, not in this life. Let’s not pretend that our faith is restricted to issues of individual moral redemption, as if that could be isolated from the obligation to be wise about fallen human nature. That wisdom about human nature should presume a dire necessity and mission from God to know how to put your hands on filthy political machinery and do His work.
Not that we can pretend to clean up politics, but that we know how it make it glorify God despite fallen human nature. We should have the clarity of moral vision to exploit human frailty on behalf of the Kingdom of Heaven. None of it will be permanent; it will always be a brief flash of glory in the context. Make your mission and then move on. It’s just a tool; don’t linger with lust over the power. Keep your eyes on the ultimate prize of eternity in Christ.
This is a part of our covenant.
Addenda: As someone once put it…
The Bible compares the bulk of humanity to cattle. Bullshit is an inevitable by-product, so learn how to shovel it.