Reading Time: 3 minutes Dietmut Teijgeman-Hansen - Flickr -
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Sometimes, I think too much. And here might be an example. Okay, so this might depend on your moral value system in the first place. Let’s take the faith vs works/deeds argument. Does faith in JesusGod get you into heaven (or simply please God), or is it the good actions that you do on Earth? Or both?

I have been questioning recently whether I do enough good in the world. I sit here preaching about morality, being on the right side of the moral spectrum, and castigating those who are not. But all I am doing is thumping away angrily at my keyboard, preaching to a choir (thanks for sticking around, people), and occasionally (seemingly pointlessly in my constituency) voting. I need to get out there more, again, and put my money where my mouth is.

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Look at a monk, or a life-long theologian, buried away in their books or in ascetic penitence. A theologian might spend decades researching some exegetical or theological aspect to, say, Christology, that few people will bother caring about. Okay, so that (elitist) understanding might itself have some at least limited positive benefit to the religious world from then on.

But how much of what monks and theologians do is genuinely about making the world a better place. So much of what people do is self-serving in that it gives them pleasure. I enjoy blogging and philosophising, so I do it. When the blogging and writing that I do has a moral dimension, am I practising what I am preaching?

The nature of religion, qua Christianity, is that it is necessarily moral in scope.

You could ask whether enough is done by everyone on Earth, but this piece is more about those who profess moral superiority – do they really put their money where their mouth is?

The thing about morality and religion is that witnessing ends up being the moral deed. A Christian is obligated to spread the word and bring as many people into the fold as possible to save them. What bigger moral action could there be other than saving someone’s soul for eternity? Is sending shipments of Bibles to Haiti (rather than food or hands to help) genuinely a morally great thing to do if it manages to eternally save the soul of even a single person?

Perhaps a theologian’s work fits into this paradigm such that their tiny piece of the jigsaw helps create the picture of coherent salvation through Christ. I suppose the Christian world absent of theologians would be somewhat problematic in their campaign to convince the whole spectrum of potential believers into their fold. This jigsaw approach might work for a theologian, but a monk? How are they adding in any meaningful way to the moral progress of the world? Monks have always struck me as quite egocentric.

Speaking of coherence, I’m not sure this ramble is… But, suffice to say that I am questioning my own moral output at the moment (I don’t want to be theologian-lazy* and merely see my writing work as adding to the jigsaw of philosophy and politics that others can benefit from, though it is hopefully that too). In questioning my own state of affairs, it is interesting to wonder the moral value of others who instead spend their lives carrying out the work of God. They are building up their faith – is it enough to say that their deed is providing theological sandbags for other believers to use to sure up their beliefs from the inundation of reason and contrary evidence flowing on the currents of the internet.

But, and here’s the final big but (I like big buts, I cannot lie…): all of the wonderful things that Christians do, are they ultimately not just self-serving? Is everything about getting themselves into heaven? #justsaying

(* I’m sure there are many theologians who spend many long hours volunteering and donating to charities and helping their neighbours.)

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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...