Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Truth, Goodness, and Faith

As we were sitting in the park by the sea, Demetrios was enlarging upon his new-found discovery about the unconscious, and various related topics. He was telling me how clear it has become to him how violating the principles of truth and goodness does us actual bodily harm. I asked him to explain how that works.

“Well, truth has to do with mastering ourselves and our environment, dealing correctly with them. Take this glass, for example. The truth of this glass is that it is meant to be used for drinking. Now if I pick it up and smash somebody over the head with it, I have violated the principle of truth.”

“Yes, but how does that affect you bodily?”

“Well, because I need my fellow man! I need him for all sorts of things, even for my very survival. So the more I alienate him, bit by bit I make my life and his and even my survival that much more difficult.”

“Plus, you’ve established a neuron path in your brain that then makes it easier to do the same thing again, right?”

“Right. Every time you repeat any behavior, you reinforce that path along the neurons, so to stop doing that thing, you literally have to fight your own body, your own brain.”

“And how about the principle of goodness?”

“Goodness is whatever makes man and his environment flourish and grow and be as they ought to be. So if I smoke cigarettes, for example, I violate the principle of goodness.”

“Oh, I see! And it’s not that smoking cigarettes somehow triggers some other thing that harms the body; the smoking itself does. You are saying what I say in theological terms, that sin is self-punishing!”

“Indeed. And any other violation of the principle of goodness likewise harms us, soul and body.”

“By definition.”


Theologically, we say goodness is whatever conforms to God’s will. But of course God’s will is not arbitrary; it's rooted in His love. His will for His creation is that it develop and grow and flourish and be everything He created it to be.

And it’s not as though God sat up above and beheld man below and said to Himself, “This one is sinning. I must punish him.” No, what God wants to do is save us from the harm the sin is already doing us – not to harm us further!

Similarly, it isn’t as if God were looking at man below and saying, “Aha, that one has faith in Me. Therefore, I am pleased with him and I will save him.” No, the fact is that true faith already IS our salvation. Because faith enables us to love God. And loving God motivates us to stop being so wounded, so sick, so destructive – and to stop being all those things is what salvation IS. And as love gives the motivation, faith provides the strength, the courage, the foundation.
Faith is not something that, although God-given, merits a reward called salvation. Instead, to have true faith, to LIVE true faith, already is your salvation. Just for starters, it saves you from living any other kind of life, every other kind of life being, in comparison, miserable and wretched. Then it initiates you into the whole, indescribably beautiful realm of Love. And then you understand how Love is greater than death, and how Love is the only true Joy… and on and on. To have faith, meaning to live faith, is to have peace, love, joy, hope, wisdom; in a word, to have Christ, the Immortal One. If you have all that, what else should salvation be?


Dixie said...

I can see it now. Someday, somewhere, there will be a blogger (or the equvalent of that age) who publishes little gems of quotes with theological implications from various historical archives. And his readers will see:

Nonsense is always man-made and never inspired by God. Anastasia Theodoridis, Kyrie Eleison!, 21 May 2009

I FINALLY understand where you are coming from in all this! And your quote is a gem.

BTW, I linked to your post on Truth and Goodness...really awesome stuff. Thanks for it.