The Six Points Of Conflict (Research Paper Sample)
AN ANALYSIS OF VARIOUS CONCEPTS IN CHRISTIAN ETHICS BASED ON THE WORKS OF LOVIN AND WOGAMAN. SPECIFICALLY, THE PAPER ANALYZES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN VARIOUS ETHICAL THEORIES AND CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS AS WELL AS THE SIX POINTS OF CONFLICT BETWEEN CHRISTIAN TEACHINGS AND ETHICAL PHILOSOPHIES. THESE INCLUDE REVELATION VS REASON, MATERIALISM VERSUS THE LIFE OF THE SPIRIT. IT DELVES FURTHER INTO THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT AND MEANING OF THESE CONFLICTS.source..
The Bible affords Christians with a more agreeable perception of ethics that has been in development for thousands of years. Christians borrow from the thoughts of the Old and New Testaments in approaching ethics, and over the years of development of modem theology, ethics has clling the story of Christian ethics that must be understood and contextualized. This paper focuses on some of these tensions, how Christian thinkers would have approached them, and other historical definitions and evaluated associated with Christian ethics.
The Six Points of Conflict
Revelation versus reason
In evaluating the conflict of revelation versus reason, Wogaman, (1993) holds that the root of the question is the basis of the Bible’s moral claims. On one hand, there is a big proof that at first instance, biblical tradition is established almost entirely on revelation as seen through various scenes across the old and new testaments. Revelations are presented as messages and communications direct from the mouth of God and people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Miriam, Paul, and others received these instructions at some point (Pasnau, & Pasnau). The idea of revelations is also significantly restricted to dramatic interventions, special miracles, and interactions between humans and the supernatural. Indeed, the impact of these supernatural interactions are well-entrenched in biblical teachings and they include ordering supernatural events like rainfall and droughts, physical signs like fires, performance of miracles and healings, and curses among others (Kim).
While so, it should be acknowledged that the biblical narrative should also be subject to reason. Wogaman, (1993) explains that the many relationships espoused in the bible are built from a reasonable perspective where instructions, commands, and admonitions are to be interpreted pragmatically. One thing that stands out from the works of prophets like Amos is that they developed a universal understanding of God and the impact is that most of what was understood about God could make sense even to a non-jew based on metrics like human justice. A good example is where Jesus’ life is presented in the most human-relatable form which suffers, thirsts, and even hungers. From the life of Jesus, one learns pragmatic lessons that are reasonable rather than revelation-based. The same extends to other parts of the bible.
Materialism versus the life of the spirit
The contrast between materialism and the life of the spirit is also well-espoused in the bible. Wogaman, (1993) explains that from one standpoint, the biblical legacy can be thought of as being too “materialistic” whereas when viewed from another, it can be considered to be fairly spiritual. He materialistic dimension can be thought of to be anchored in the traditions of creation where God created the world with all it’s material detail and acknowledged that “it was good.” The bible goes to a great detail in explaining the grand nature of the materialistic world and many other parts of the bible talk about the wealth, magnitude, and profound nature and beauty of the bible. In Genesis, God gives man the power to rule over everything on earth, and to use every material aspect to further the creation story. To a given degree, therefore, materialism is seen as an important part of the human exploits. Richness and wealth are glorified as seen from rulers like Solomon, David, and others who lived magnificent lives. Wogaman, (1993) also highlights that materialism is not only viewed from a grand scale, but from a smaller level too. In the Song of Songs, King Solomon talks about the sensual aspects of human love, and the blessedness of divine favor is presented in terms of material prosperity too. In the same context, Wogaman, (1993) highlights that the loss of material things is presented as outright disaster as noted from the context of Job. In the new testaments, events like the feeding of the multitudes and the prayer for God to “give us this day our daily bread” are presented as important imperatives.
The bible does not entirely glorify materialism but also places a significant focus on humility, poverty, and lack. The first of the ten commandments talks about the sin of idolatry which involves worshipping something else in place of God. Rather than dwelling so much on material things, the bible admonishes worshipping in “spirit and truth” and there are many teachings against the worldliness of materialism. Jesus was known to live a humble life, almost in poverty, and the same can be seen from many people who served him. Jesus also openly admonishes the pursuit of wealth by all means, and presents the pursuit of Godliness as the most important thing that Christians should pursue. In this regard, therefore, Wogaman, (1993) acknowledges the tension between the bible’s strong affirmation of the material world right from the time of creation, while also simultaneously warning against excessive pursuit of materialism.
Views of Christian thinkers on the conflicts: Revelation versus reason
These conflicts have also been espoused in modern theological thinking. The first question of revelation versus reason has featured significantly in modern thinking. In Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas states that for our salvation, it is critical to have full knowledge revelation about God, but there is a strong case for human reason. Aquinas holds that even though man is naturally directed to God, man still needs revelation because God is beyond the grasp of reason. Therefore, whereas some truths about God can be discovered by reason alone, revelation tends to serve a useful purpose. Aquinas presented the idea of “sacred doctrines” which holds that the basic understanding of our world here can be thought of in relation to the principles of another higher science, and part of this derives from human knowledge. Most importantly, Aquinas argued that theology itself is based upon revelation and that whatever is found in other sciences contrary to the truth must be condemned as false. Aquinas takes a balanced approach between reason and revelation, and puts the two in different compartments. Aquinas holds that revelation should and must be examined and validated by reason.
Augustine of Hippo also lends thought to this debate and holds that for one to obtain knowledge of God, he must love Him. Augustine argued that the final authority for the determination of how to use reason in faith lied not with the individual, but with God and the church. Augustine argued that it’s only through the revelation of the spirit that knowledge can be acquired and he argued against Platonists who believed that God’s mind could be read through a corroboration of evidence. As such, there is a place for reason and for revelation, but man can only understand revelation by digging up reason well.
On the same debate, John Wesley, the English cleric, notes that faith plays a key role in Christian lives particularly in affirming justification by faith and the idea that preservation of salvation is a fundamental instrument of grace. He argues that scripture is key in our lives as it is the inspiration of God, and that it is sufficient for us. In the same breath, Wesley appreciates the role of reason and calls it the “precious gift of God.” He furthered the affirmation that Christ and the apostles never failed to demonstrate every doctrine that was taught by relating to scripture and cogent reasoning. By elucidating the balance between reason and revelation, Wesley notes that the foundations of Christianity are established on the nature of God and the nature of man, and these two have their mutual relations.
Views of Christian thinkers on the Conflicts: Materialism Versus the Life of the Spirit
On materialism, John Calvin asserts that where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost His authority. As such, Calvin presents a view that holding onto an entirely materialistic view of the world was vain and wrong for Christians. He explains that doing so will likely lead to God losing His authority over the individual’s heart. The excessive pursuit of the material world will likely leave a God-shaped hole in the heart of the individual, according to Calvin, and it is something that man should be wary of. Similar arguments are advanced by John Wesley who argues that defying material prosperity was an essential part of the journey of holiness, and humans had to separate themselves from the excessive pursuit of materialism (Jennings, pg. 157-79). John Wesley, in one instance, revisits an incidence where he encountered a poor woman in winter and he asks himself whether God would be pleased with him adorning his walls with expensive jewelry and material and not giving out to the poor. He argues that the Christian life is that of giving rather than holding onto material wealth and possessions. He pursued a life of giving away every extra money he did not need (Alcorn). In this regard, it can be demonstrated that he pursued an obsessive approach to his theology where he gave away everything rather than holding on as he believed his riches were supernatural rather than physical.
Augustine struggled with understanding the position of materialism in the pursuit of Godliness. During the early phases of his life, he struggled with material things like the love of career, money, prestige, and lust, all of which led to him being distracted and hollow. He found answers in the scriptures (Fleck). The revelation was that he found excessive pursuit of materialism to be anti-spiritual and that it was not right for Christians to obsess about the matter.
Historical Context and Meaning
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