Thursday, May 1, 2008

Morality vs. Transformation

I know yesterday I addressed, to a small degree anyway, the relatively poor moral stance taken by christianity in general. Today I want to qualify that point through several additional thoughts.

1. I realize that I am painting with a very broad brush. While that needs to be stated, I don't think it invalidates my earlier statements because broad brushes do not indicate the absence of the exceptions, they just indicate trends, generalities and norms. In the case of christianity, unfortunately we have lived our lives in a way that does not place us on any higher moral ground than the average Atheist, Muslim or Buddhist.

2. I do not claim that atheists are moral and christians aren't. Atheists are immoral to a similar degree as christians. This is important because in no way am I claiming that Jesus didn't teach morality. I don't doubt for a minute the moral aspects of the christian faith. What I am calling into question is the ways in which christians have distorted the teaching of Jesus through our lives, decisions and practices.

I want to point out that I do not think morality is the point of the christian faith. Morality, while a good thing, was not the intent of Jesus. I think transformation is valued Biblically well more so than morality. The Pharisees were moral...they did good things and didn't do things that were forbidden. The problem with the Pharisees is that their focus was on "right-living" or morality rather than on transformation.

So what is transformation? (I don't pretend to speak comprehensively, these are just initial thoughts) I think transformation is found in radical living. I think transformation is evident when behavior, attitude and love is manifested in ways that are so absolutely absurd that they make no sense apart from the tranformative hand of God alone. If our lives are not radical to that point I can't blame others for choosing their current lifestyle patterns over ours. If we are not radical to that point we have little to offer the world. Jesus was radical. The heroes of faith were radical (i.e. Paul, Peter, James, Bonhoeffer etc.). Other than the absolute love and value we have and place on our own comfort and pride, I can think of no reason why we wouldn't expect the call on our lives to be one of a radical faith lived out in absurd ways. Unfortunately we fit too well with society and we forget the call of Jesus that was so appropriately stated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. "The call of Christ is I bid you come and die".

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