Character for “Rén” in Simplified Chinese
I have a set of seven concepts that I’m working, slowly but surely, into a book on Christianity. It’s kind of like the seven virtues from past Christian theology but a bit more topical in nature. I thought I would blog them up for some possible feedback.
First: Christianity isn’t about fighting capitalism, it’s about fighting economicism; that being the application of economic concepts to society in a manner that subsumes the fundamental value people have.
Second: The interaction between power and responsibility. Power without responsibility is tyranny; responsibility without power is scapegoating. It’s anti-social and unreasonable to expect that no one should ever have any power over you. The proper course for an individual is to determine whether those who have power over you have responsibility that’s consummate with their power. If they do then there should be no problem when you agree with their cause. This applies to people who are leaders as well; they should strive to be responsible in proper scope to whatever their powers are. This idea obviously has some political ramifications as well as religious ones.
Third: The spiritual world should be presumed to follow different rules than the physical world. Certain things “belong to God” and are off-limits to otherwise normal, economicism-oriented interpretations. An example of this is the argument that receiving a good feeling in return for being charitable actually makes charity selfish because the giver seeks the good feeling as their reward. Besides being the kind of thing a real hater would say, this idea is wrong because the good feeling from being charitable (called Rén in Confucianism) is something that exists within the spiritual world; i.e. it doesn’t follow principles of economicism. Also, charity should be anonymous when possible because that limits the economic benefits received by the giver.
Fourth: The terms of forgiveness. Some people want to be forgiven just so that they can get some leeway to hurt you again. It’s sad but true. In applying economic concepts to forgiveness, we’ve forgotten that forgiveness belongs to the one who forgives. We sometimes treat forgiveness like a currency which is received by the forgiven. That is the wrong idea. Just what forgiveness entails and what its terms are belong to the forgiver, not to the forgiven. It’s possible to forgive someone without giving them an opportunity to hurt you again.
Fifth: God’s Unconditional Love does not mean freedom from judgement; if it did, there would be no commandments in the Bible. God’s love may unconditional (I haven’t come to my own interpretation on that yet) but like a parent to a child, sometimes you need to judge someone you love harshly. It’s been popular to say that God loves everyone no matter what because then you can seem nice and popular, that was never God’s intended message.
Sixth: Honor means following a rule which benefits the community even when you would be better off individually in not following it. An honorable rule can’t be petty because pettiness isn’t in the community’s best interests. This means that there is no honor in following laws that severely micro-manage people since those laws are petty in nature.
Seventh: Charity is for your neighbors and your brothers, or for people who have honor; it’s not something you are supposed to give to everyone unconditionally. If there are no conditions at all attached to charity then your charity is inviting people to break Christ’s covenant and that is not what he intended when he told people to be charitable to their neighbors and brothers. As far as honor goes, people who have honor will respect your charity and might be able to become your brothers, so charity towards them is optional.