6. The Church Failed
Granted, English translations don’t handle this heart-led way very well. That’s because the entire range of Western Civilization, and the Western Church history, quickly went off the rails on this very issue. Shortly after the death of the last Apostle, Jesus’ cousin John, the leading scholars of Christian faith drifted back into the Hellenistic approach to understanding, and once again the heart of faith died out.
During three centuries of persecution, the active faith of Christians remained strong. That’s how things works; if you put people under pressure, you find out what really matters to them. But all that time, the philosophical foundation of Christian faith was being hollowed out. When Roman Emperor Constantine recognized how powerful Christian faith was, he decided to court the leadership of the churches so he could use their religion to strengthen his reign. It was a death-blow. Taking away persecution and making them comfortable exposed the weakness that had been eating away at the core of their religion. They compromised, not in their cerebral doctrines, but in their commitment to the otherworldly nature of genuine faith.
This world is broken. It cannot be healed. When Christ returns, it will be destroyed. That’s the poignant reminder in 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, and 2 Peter 3:10-13. Do not invest too much energy in saving this world. Instead, we are to live by divine justice for as long as the Lord leaves us here, but we should be eager to get out of this world. Yes, the revelation of God can make life worth living in this world, because it is the secret of how Creation works. The Fall took away that understanding; the Fall was the choice to trust our senses and logic over the revelation of God in our hearts. The human intellect will not survive the Second Coming of Christ.
Yet following the church leaders’ decision to compromise with political rulers, they began investing their energies in restructuring religion in terms of human reason. Step by step, it was that same series of mistakes Israel made in departing the ancient ways. The failure was not in faith, but in the human organization.
Every time someone stepped up to reform and restore the ancient faith, they kept trying to change the intellectual ideas and the organization, but nobody talked of restoring the heart to its role as God intended. Instead, the terminology of trusting the heart was invested with a different meaning. Such was the cultural mythology of Western Civilization, that the heart is merely a repository of sentiment, the combined influences of our environment and our individual personalities. In the Bible, the heart is the seat of conviction and faith, something that comes down from above.
Stop for a moment and consider what a difference there is between those two.
It’s not that we need to mend our churches and our religions. So long as they are founded and built on any part of Western traditions, they cannot accomplish the mission of Christ. He was a heart-led man who promoted the ancient Hebrew ways of His people. He was a man of the Ancient Near East. Christianity is properly an eastern mystical religion because the Bible is an eastern mystical book. You cannot truly serve Christ from a Western orientation.