For context, I refer readers to the comments thread under the previous post. This is a follow up to that one…originally a comment on that thread which just got too lone. As usual.
Warning: Rant alert
I sometimes wonder…do you actually read comments here or the posts? I get the feeling that you perhaps skim them at best, and then pick at them in parts.
Do you not understand my perspective at all after all this back and forth. Do you not understand that I REJECT an EXTERNAL standard as an illusion of truth; I reject it as an abstract notion of VALUE and not value itself.
I cannot make myself any clearer. You ask “do we need to be perfect?”…you are either not hearing me, not understanding me, or ignoring me. I do NOT agree with you that this is what Jesus means. We disagree on the interpretation James…you continue to proceed as though you and I agree on the interpretation and the definitions. We do not. If there is to be a reasonable debate, with some kind of relevant outcome hovering anywhere even remotely near the light of day, then we need to debate the interpretation/definitions first, rather than proceed down a road that takes us to the dead end of Not Really Listening To The Other Side Lane.
At any rate, for now, I’ll join you for a walk. Or, I have a scooter you can borrow.
What is perfect? You speak of perfection as yet another plumb line or value that is NOT man. What is happening here then is you are ignoring my oft and clearly stated definition of “standard of value is SELF”, then proceeding to make up your own definition for me, and then denying it. It’s like you are disagreeing with yourself. Are you? Because I was right in the middle of “The People Under the Stairs”, a pretty good Wes Craven horror flick, so I can, like, head on back to it if you two need to be alone.
(Wink…just kidding, James. You know I love you. And I’m not being sarcastic. I do love you. As long as we agree that it is YOU, not your external self.)
I am saying that man IS perfection IN HIMSELF. That is Jesus’s point and that is the ONLY reason God has mercy on humanity. It is the only reason that the Jew, though he did not keep the law perfectly as you correctly point out, was pardoned by God for his lack of faithfulness. The reason that the Jews were pardoned is because the Law is FOR man…which is a point Jesus outright declares, Himself. This is, for me, the wisest thing I have ever heard in my life. It is the single greatest utterance of TRUTH in the history of the world. It is a rank declaration that EVERY notion in existence is designed for one thing: to serve man. Period. MAN, or more properly, man’s LIFE, is that which gets to decide whether ANY “law” is true or not. Man is subject to nothing except himself; and nothing subjects man to TRUTH. (Even God is a TRUTH which is revealed through the context of man’s life; this doesn’t make God less than God, but it does make man of equal existential BEING and WORTH as God. And I can hear computers leaving this site as I type this, LOL. Well, yes, I suppose after three thousand years of gnostic Platonism infecting the whole of Western thought, my ideas would seem quite controversial.) The fact that Jesus declares this says that Jesus is in no way obsessing about the afterlife as you accuse Christianity of doing. Jesus’s obsession is LIFE, full stop.
Man is not for the Law, and so God cannot condemn man for ignoring the law in service to the inherent right of man to EXIST…to be Himself. This is shown a thousand times in the old testament, and STILL you want to claim LAW as the superior standard to MAN…it is like you are rejecting the very argument you are making to prove YOUR point. Incredible.
But anyway, this is precisely why the law inevitably points to Jesus. Jesus is the culmination of the absolute truth of MAN as PERFECT VALUE. Thus, the only real morality is that object which affirms man’s life unequivocally and observationally: MAN, HIMSELF. And nothing else. Not the law. Not God’s “Word”, not the Church. Not the “collective”. Not the government…nothing.
And this is what Jesus means by “perfect”. He does not mean what appears to be your indefatigable determination to declare it merely another Platonist “form”; the truth which is beyond man, but which contradictorily determines him, and gives his very being meaning (the contradiction being that if Plato is right, and man is a shadow, then man is not really man, but a mere manifestation of the “form”). The whole point of Christ is to show man that perfection is in being man, not DOING the law (works), because value cannot ever be outside humanity. This is simply a metaphysical fact. All truth is derived from man, it is never bestowed upon him, because if TRUTH is bestowed upon man then there is no actual purpose to man, for TRUTH is more pure by itself, not bastardized by the “untruth” of man’s SELF. Further, man cannot himself really ever be declared as a separate entity from that which bestows the value, a point I have made many times in citing Argo’s Universal Truth Number Seven: Anything which proceeds directly from an absolute IS the absolute . So, man is either nothing more than an extension of the “external” truth, or man MUST be destroyed in service to it. There is NO OTHER OPTION. The Law either culminates in Christ, or man must DIE in service to it. That is your only choice, James. Pick one. Any other choice is only an illusion of logic. And a red herring.
Either the law culminates with the Christ, or the law makes man MOOT. This is indisputable. Continuing to seek value in an outside standard means that YOU, as a person, can never actually claim TRUTH because TRUTH can have no communion with you.
The observation of the Christ as the permanent atonement for man’s rejection of SELF makes perfect sense if you understand where I’m coming from. It not only makes perfect sense, it is undeniable. OBSERVATION is how we know anything IS. The observable reality of God as HUMAN proves that morality…or better said, GOOD, is LIFE, not death.
That God IS man is proof of man’s inherent moral value. The law is satisfied when Christ is put to DEATH, for this–death–is the end of the law, inexorably. Man’s VALUE is observed as triumphant when Christ, the man, is resurrected. Why didn’t Christ stay dead? Because nothing can kill man, because man is not at the mercy of ANY notion except his own self. Not even death. Man is the beginning and end of himself…this was God’s intention from the very beginning. And this is why Christians do not fear death. For death is merely another way we quantify the movement of the SELF relative to other objects, nothing more. In reality, the self cannot be destroyed…because all that IS is a function of the SELF, never the other way around. And if the self IS, the self cannot die, because it is impossible for the self to both BE and NOT BE at the same time…and this contradiction is the contradiction which the SELF cannot abide. The only way out of this inexorable truth is to, in fact, choose to contradict it, which cannot lead to a harmony of SELF and NOT SELF…it cannot even lead to “paradox”. It can only lead to death…which is the conscious rejection of SELF. Now, what does this look like in the “afterlife”, I don’t really know, but I can imagine some kind of “hell”. Perhaps not the fire and brimstone kind, but an eternity of rejecting SELF in favor of what is ultimately DEATH (an external standard, like the Law)? I’m guessing it’s not great.
If man willingly capitulates and sacrifices SELF to STANDARD, what is God to do? Man has a right to act. If he acts to his own destruction, then God cannot interfere. You want to put TRUTH outside of you, fine. But know this: a denial of self as THE source of all meaning, value, and existence is is a rejection of life. And if you are not alive NOW, why should we expect you will be alive EVER. (Jesus said, “Let the dead bury their dead.”)
ANY other standard except for man, observed in Christ, is death, period. Without Christ, the Law can only destroy humanity. Like any other “law”, it MUST condemn; it has no other purpose!! It cannot save. It only KILLS. Left to its own, as a sparkling example of the rank circular logic of being both the declaration and source of its own truth, it can only commit mass murder!
(You see this trend in Calvinism: the Bible is the infallible “Law”; and ritualistic Communion is the “sin sacrifice”. It is a distortion of the Jewish practices and religion, but make no mistake: their own brand of “mystic” Judaism is the object of the Calvinist thrust in the world today.)
But now, for the non-reformed Christian (for reformation theology is nothing more than a return to the the death of Law, which is why neo-Calvinists are the modern day Pharisees and Judiazers, dressed however in antinomian garb…Paul Dohse rightly points out, much to the chagrin of Calvinist despots everywhere, that their theology is as works-based as it comes; again, they are modern day Pharisees to a T)…for the non-reformed Christian all of man is seen through Christ, not the Law any longer. Man’s existence is the key to his perfection, and that is why the temple curtain was torn in two. There is no more sanctification; there is no more justification necessary for man.
There is just SELF.
13 thoughts on “Man as the Singularity of Moral Truth: Another defense of Christ”
“There is just SELF.”
Which also means “choice”. Free Will
Argo, this talk by NT Wright reminded me of some of the things you write here.
“The whole point of Christ is to show man that perfection is in being man, not DOING the law (works), because value cannot ever be outside humanity. This is simply a metaphysical fact. All truth is derived from man, it is never bestowed upon him, because if TRUTH is bestowed upon man then there is no actual purpose to man, for TRUTH is more pure by itself, not bastardized by the “untruth” of man’s SELF. “
But this dichotomy between “being man” and “doing the law” is a false dichotomy, because only man can do the law anyway. God doesn’t eat meat, so there’s not need for God to avoid eating pork. Only man can do that. God doesn’t have sex, so there’s no need for God to avoid having sex with his wife while she’s on her period, so only man can do that.
Let me ask you this: What value is there in a man who forces his wife to have sex with him while she’s on her period? (You might say nobody would do that, but I once had a boss who bragged about doing that exact thing at work to the shear horror of everyone there. This is a gross topic obviously, but its part of the law. And its part of the Law, that quite frankly, I think women would be happy with.) There is no value in such a louse. Existentialism be damned. He’s human. So what? He might as well be an animal considering the depraved manner of his life. The Law raises human life above the level of the ape, thus giving it real value.
I do read the posts but with the longer ones especially, I tend to read them from the bottom up.
“Man is not for the Law,”–of course not–“and so God cannot condemn man for ignoring the law in service to the inherent right of man to EXIST…to be Himself.” But what does condemn mean? I think the misunderstanding is on this word. Neither of us places any value in condemnation. We actually agree on this point. God doesn’t condemn man for ignoring the Law. Man if he has any sense condemns man for ignoring the Law. Here’s your existentialism: the Law is for man, to enforce man’s values. Many doesn’t want to be murdered, to have someone else sleeping with his wife, to steal his property, to have someone finding his ass wondering in the street and not return it, and so on. Most of the Law is not external in any sense, except to the modern Christian and the Atheist who equally hate morality and justice. The Law has value because humans have value and the Law defends that value where the so-called “good news” of the NT fails to do so. The “good new” of the NT? The guy who murdered me cannot be condemned in any sense by God or man because he has faith. The guy who rapes you cannot be condemned in any sense by God or man because he has faith. The guy who finds your ass wondering in the street and doesn’t return it cannot be condemned in any sense by God or man because he has faith. The “gospel” is against the notion that humans have value because it causes men to behave as if they do not. It throws all rights into the garbage. You have no right to life, to private property, to dignity; if someone asks you for money you must give it to them (Jesus said so) and if they compel you to go a mile with them you must go two (Jesus said so) and if they steal your cloak you’ve got to give them your shirt too (Jesus said so). If you extend these examples, I guess you’ve got to give them your wife if they want her, and your own body if they want that. Nothing you have is yours but belongs to everyone else. You have no value, no dignity, no rights. If someone attacks you, turn the other cheek. If you have so much as a normal human emotion, you are condemned by the NT “gospel.” The Law defends human value — the gospel leads to the destruction of society that we witness around us where everything is backwards and upside down, where good is evil and evil is good and everything normal and right is condemned and everything disgusting and evil and hailed as the greatest thing ever. And I think I’m done. I’ve got nothing more to say. That puts it all in a nutshell.
No, there IS value in the louse. He is NOT an animal.
And the law does nothing. Man does because man is. The law is not. If you say the law is something without man first, you are the gnostic. The law may look like man is suppose to look, but only man is man.
And so, of what use is the law? None. Man does not need the law to value self, because man is able to CHOOSE. Man is able to conceptualizer his worth and then make choices on how to organize his environment to that end supreme end.
The law has value only insofar as it points to man as the standard of perfection. That is Christ.
If self exists it must be free. There is no other definition of self.
“And the law does nothing. Man does because man is. The law is not. If you say the law is something without man first, you are the gnostic.”
The Law does something in the sense that any idea does something. I’m not making the Law an entity.
“And so, of what use is the law? None.”
And equally, then, no idea has any use whatsoever. So we are back to being Neanderthals or lower.
“The law has value only insofar as it points to man as the standard of perfection. That is Christ.”
Rather, the Law has vale only insofar as it points man to natural law. Pointing man to Christ only amounts to anything if he was born damned and in need of a godman sacrifice. Since he isn’t, there is no value there. The real value is in pointing man to the path that will recognize the dignity of other people, and thus to return the lost animal even of his enemy and to recognize that his wife is another human being not just his pretty toy. Christ will not help him recognize any of that, since Christ merely makes the sinner uncondemnable by faith so that he can continue to abuse everyone and everything with impunity.
This idea that the standard of perfection is Christ is too nebulous. By faith Christians assert that Christ was perfect and if we just believe in him, we have a perfect moral standard. But do we see Christ in different situations making a choice to do this or that? No. That we see in the Law. Christ is never faced with a hard choice in the gospels, EVER. In fact, when the gospel writers come to tempt him to show that he was “in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin” what temptations do they choose? Unreal ones like being tempted to turn stones into bread, to jump off the temple, and to worship Satan explicitly by bowing to him. These kinds of mythical temptations have nothing to do with the real temptations we encounter in life. And Christ was flawed. He was a racist, calling Gentiles “gods.” He couldn’t control his anger, losing his temper in the temple and beating people with a whip. He is no standard of perfection. It is purely mythical to hold him to be such. If he were a real standard of perfection, the gospels would IN DETAIL delineate for us real temptations and how he beat them. They don’t. But the Law gives us real situations.
“The guy who murdered me cannot be condemned in any sense by God or man because he has faith. The guy who rapes you cannot be condemned in any sense by God or man because he has faith. The guy who finds your ass wondering in the street and doesn’t return it cannot be condemned in any sense by God or man because he has faith.”
James, they condemned themselves before God. They have insisted that others do not have value and devalued themselves in the process. That is the price of free will.
They had a choice and what you call “faith” I call fake. Faith in satan, perhaps? And they will be condemned if we can prove them guilty by the civil authorities.
Yes indeed. The denial of self is the logical consequence of denying others. You cannot be blameless for violating the very premise, the SELF, which also speaks to your own existence. This is not even a matter of faith, it is reason. A violation of any SELF is a violation of YOU. You cannot therefore logically be innocent for violating the one true objective standard of morality, human life, because faith MUST be reasonable in order to be observed as efficacious/true.
When you honor others by a affirming them by LOVING them as you love YOU, you cannot help but glorify God. This is the beauty of the gospel. The law has been replaced by man as the source of TRUTH. The application of such knowledge WILL inexorably be LOVE. This is exactly where reason takes you…which is why, yes, I think enlightenment existentialism is more Christian than Christianity.
“When you honor others by a affirming them by LOVING them as you love YOU, you cannot help but glorify God.”
Do unto to others……
……and when they don’t live that way….. they have broken the contract
Man as a contractual being. Like God. Covenant/Contract.
Right. And the contract is the rational acknowledgment of SELF.
Notice how this idea reconciles EVERYTHING we used to not understand about Christianity; ESP the problem of evil.
“Notice how this idea reconciles EVERYTHING we used to not understand about Christianity; ESP the problem of evil.”
Exactly. And the contract thing? Well, God is a God of Covenants. Made total sense to me.