27 December 2021
How would we explain the concept of moral infrastructure?
At the lower level, it is the customs and culture of observing the Covenant boundaries. It would include a wholly different social structure, a distinct separation from the common American society. It's not necessarily funny clothes, though it would include a distinctly more conservative standard. But it would mean a noticeably different identity that would stick out as not your typical American way of living. It means you would make it a point not to assimilate, but would remain a distinct society wherever you resided.
At the higher level, it would mean a wholly different way of looking at things. This includes a conscious withdrawal from the philosophical assumptions about reality itself that characterized everyone else in your area. I won't drag you down into fancy terms like "epistemology", but that's what it means -- we would have a totally different way of thinking about what's real and what really matters. We would ask entirely different questions in the first place.
We've already covered the particulars in previous blog posts here. The point is that you would work hard on thinking about where you should draw the boundaries in the American context. Nor are we going to emulate any existing oddball communities, like Amish, Mennonites, Jews, Muslims, etc. We aren't going to take the position that certain particular adjustments we make in one context is something we need to drag into every context around the world. We don't have a uniform with characteristic foods and language, for example. The point is not the conclusions you come to about such questions, but that we have a common approach in asking those questions.
It's not a culture or a particular religion, but it's the path we take to arrive at a culture and religion. We aren't trying to roll things back to some previous place in any particular historical tradition. We aren't dragging out a cowboy lifestyle, or Colonial American, or Medieval European, or ancient Israeli style. There might be something amenable to us in any or all of those traditions. Rather, it's the process of growing a tradition that matters here. It's not where you end up, but how you got there.
Moral infrastructure is the commitment, the determination and persistent resolve to seek God's face. It's the primacy of the Covenant in all things. It's less a matter of the placement of boundaries and more about the kind of boundaries, and the certitude that there must be boundaries. It is the calm assurance that those boundaries will always be in conflict with those of the world around us. Not a single human system devised outside the Covenant will be bear much resemblance to what's inside the Covenant.
Review 2 Corinthians 6:14-18. Keep in mind the context: Paul was trying to persuade the Corinthian church to stop acting like the pagan Corinthians from which they came. They weren't obliged to leave the city, but they diverged from the lifestyle and the identity of those who stood outside the Covenant of Christ. This would be a restoration of what Israel was called to do at the foot of Mount Sinai. We belong to the household of Heaven; the world should be able to tell the difference, even as they cannot possibly understand why we are different.
As with the Apostles and their early missionary work, we are not starting from scratch. There is a vast community of folks out there who claim the Lord but are terribly misguided about Him and His Word. We have a duty to give them a chance to hear the message of the Covenant. How they respond is not the issue; the Lord will move those whom He chooses. We already have a potential body of recruits, as it were, to engage the mission of restoring the Covenant.
But at the same time, we are starting out like Israel at the foot of Sinai in the sense that there is nothing of the Covenant infrastructure standing right now. We have to craft our Tabernacle and develop a form of worship and teaching that meets the context in which we live. This time it won't be uniform across the whole congregation of Covenant believers in the particulars, but in the fundamental elements of how those particulars are chosen.
The moral infrastructure is certainly ours to enjoy, once we build it, but it will take several generations just to develop a culture and habit of mind that should mark the Covenant people. It's not the rules, but the fundamental moral imperatives that would be manifested in rules. That's a lot harder job than just crafting rules. It requires a vision of something that cannot be written in words, but an orientation on heart borne conviction. Simply seizing upon the rules is why Israel failed.
It's not a question of "getting people saved" as the common American phrase means it. The Lord suffers no hindrance in marking out His people for Eternity. What is lacking here is the structure of appropriating the full inheritance that comes with that eternal change. We have no witness without a pronounced display of shalom, and the only way to fully develop shalom is to embrace the full requirements of the Covenant.
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