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PHL 212
Instructor: Dr. Bob Zunjic
 

Jesus of Nazareth

The Sermon on the Mount

An Outline


Historical Background

General: The 'Sermon on the Mount' is the first exposition of Jesus' teachings in the New Testament. Many of its features suggest that it reflects the very beginnings of Jesus' thought (?). It represents both the original kernel and the normative foundation of Christian morality. Despite many changes and adjustments Christianity has undergone since the time of its inception, Jesus' sermon remains the lasting source of inspiration for all who profess to be the followers of Jesus. Meanwhile they had discovered that it was not easy to live strictly by the precepts of the original Christian morality.
Note: The sermon does not necessarily reflect a single event from Jesus' preaching tours; it could have been a later literary concatenation of sayings taken from several different speeches Jesus had delivered during his lifetime.
Source: The Gospel of Matthew (5:1- 7:29); The Gospel of Luke (6:17- 49). These two versions differ only slightly.
Title:

The traditional title seems to have originated with the commentary of St. Augustine: "Concerning the Lord's Sermon in the Mountain" (394 AD).

Time: The original sermon was composed probably by the end of the third decade of the 1st century AD. Both Matthew's and Luke's version of it were written down some time between 65 and 95 AD.
Place:

If Matthew is to be believed, the sermon was delivered on one of the hills near Capernaeum.
Luke, however, intimates that the sermon was given in a "level place" (if so its proper title would be "The Sermon in the Plain").

Parallel:

By underscoring the external similarities with the epiphany on the mount of Sinai Matthew apparently wanted to associate Jesus' proclamation of the Gospel morality with the revelation of Divine Law to Moses.
The implicit suggestion: Jesus is the new Moses.
Message: The new Law of Jesus as pronounced on the Mount in Galilee should be taken on a par with the Mosaic Law given on the Mount of Sinai.
Result:

The sermon makes a strong case not only that Jesus' teaching builds upon the work of Moses but also that he brings finality to the Law.

Structure: Rhetorically, the sermon could be divided into four main parts:
Blessings
Analogies
Positions
Examples
   

New Virtues

(I) BLESSINGS  
Beatitudes The sermon starts with 'beatitudes' (from the Latin: beati sunt = blessed are), each beginning with the word "blessed" in the sense of "happy".
The blessings endorse a new morality by stating 8 new virtues and their respective benefits.
Note the positive tone contrasting the prohibitive style of the Commandments.
  "Happy are those who (know they) are spiritually poor;"*
  "Happy are those who mourn;"
  "Happy are the meek;"
  "Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires;"**
  "Happy are those who are merciful to other;"
  "Happy are the pure in heart;"
  "Happy are those who work for peace among men;"
  "Happy are you when men insult you, and persecute you, and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers;"
Notes:
* Here the Greek reads ptochos, which literally denotes a destitute person, a person who lives from alms (thus "poor"). As evidenced by Luke's text, which has only the phrase "poor" (without any specification) this was probably the original wording of Jesus. He typically did not speak to the rich and strong but to the weak and wretched. He wanted to find those who could open the Kingdom of Heaven and such were not among those who possessed the Kingdom of the World. Thomas More tried to revive this commitment to the wretched of the earth as late as in the 16th century by combining it with a Platonic blueprint for an ideal society. However, Matthew foresightedly changed the original connotation of "poor" by adding the qualification "spiritually" (to pneumato) which suggested rather a servile deference than economic poverty. 'Spiritually poor' are thus those who are conscious of their feebleness and insignificance as opposed to the arrogance of those who pretended to know who was God and what did he want. If we add 'who know' (as some translators do) we'll get another qualification that further softens the harshness of the original phrase. But the text does not warrant these modifications in translation.

** The same virtue is addressed again in the blessing that reads: "Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires." If we single out the theme of persecution this particular blessing should be linked with the one that follows immediately after it (the last one). Whatever reading we choose there are only 8 virtues even though Jesus pronounces 9 blessings total.

 

Virtues
Rewards
(1) Humbleness, Humility. Kingdom of Heaven (the reign).
(2) Mournfulness, Compassion. Consolation, Comfort (for lack of joy).
(3) Meekness, Gentleness. The earth (the promised Land).
(4) Obedience, Righteousness. Fulfillment.
(5) Mercy, Charity. Forgiveness.
(6) Purity, Chastity. Admission (to the presence of God).
(7) Peacefulness, Reconciliation. Acceptance (by God for true Israelites).
(8) Patience, Perseverance. Heavenly Blessings.

 

Opposition: These practical virtues are introduced in opposition to the accepted virtues of Greek and Jewish provenance. One only needs to recall Plato's harsh comments on effeminate affections like lamenting or empathizing (Rep. 387b-e; 605d-606b) or the Old Testament unswerving insistence on observance and obedience to realize how different is Jesus' stance on this matter. The contrast between the new Christian virtues and both the self-assertiveness of Hellenistic hybris (presumptuousness, vanity) and the shallow righteousness of Pharisaic hypocrisy (religious observance without practical human content) is so stark that the very stating of the new values must have been perceived as a manifesto of a radical moral revolution.
  Note: To these practical virtues, conceived by Jesus as the basis of moral character, st. Paul will later add the so called 'theological' virtues: faith, hope and love.
Salvation Jesus' moral reform is not self-serving. It has a higher goal - to revive the old promise of salvation and to cast it in a more universal mold.
  This is the message that the disciples need to embrace and live by.
Condition: Falling short of the above virtues can undercut the mission entailed by the the idea of salvation. Hence the necessity of appropriating these virtues as a new code of conduct.
   
(II) ANALOGIES  
Similes:
The four analogies ("proportions") establish a strict parallelism between the function of these virtues and the moral mission of Jesus' disciples:

1. As salt to cooking so the disciples to mankind (S:C = D:M).

2. As light to the world so the disciples to mankind (L:W = D:M).

3. As a city on the hill to observers so the disciples to mankind (C:O = D:M).

4. As a lamp on the stand to the house so the disciples to mankind (L:H = D:M).

 

 
Salt : Cooking Disciples : Mankind
Light : World Disciples : Mankind
City : Observers Disciples : Mankind
Lamp : House Disciples : Mankind
  If salt loses its taste it becomes worthless as spice. If light is hidden it cannot shine before people. If a city does not rise over the landscape it cannot be seen. If a lamp is put under the bowl it cannot light up the house.
Message: If the followers lack the necessary virtues they will be as ineffective as the salt that has lost its taste, that is to say, they will be like darkness, like a hidden city or a misplaced lamp. In contrast, virtues are like a good spice, strong light, a city on the hill, a lamp on the lamp stand. This is why Jesus metaphorically says: "Your light must shine before people." That is to say, by their virtues they should be role models for the world.
  Note: American fascination with success and achievement (Greek excellence) goes hand in hand with the ideal of being a moral role model for the whole world ("a shining city on a hill", as John Winthrop phrased it four hundred years ago).

New Law:

  Where exactly should we place the Gospel morality amidst other moral codes of the time? The following chart gives some hints:
Situating
PAGAN MORALITY
hybris
PHARISAIC MORALITY
hypocrisy

 
\                               /
\ /                                            \ /
Derivation
GOSPEL MORALITY
charity
^
I
 
I
 
MOSAIC LAW
righteousness
Excellence Jesus was not impressed with the morality of great deeds and personal excellence. The pagan morality praises virtues as personal accomplishment but instead of building a good character out of them, as it professes to do in numerous philosophical treatises, it creates the appearance of vanity and arrogance in its great personalities from Achilles to Alcibiades and Alexander, or from Brutus and Caesar to Nero. Contrary to the pagan ambition of attaining perfection and immortality in the court of public opinion, Jesus introduces the idea of moral modesty that is always sensitive to potential defects (vices) and failures (sins) that will be judged in the court of Heaven. The vices should be counterbalanced by virtues that do not stem from external actions but emerge from the good heart and will (these latter are new moral categories).
Challenge Jesus questions the tradition surrounding the ten Commandments according to which the only way to satisfy God was to strictly observe his Law. Contrary to the Pharisees, Jesus taught that God could be satisfied only when men enter "the kingdom of heaven" which is possible only if they change qualitatively, in their hearts. But in order to be able to accomplish that goal they need to display more than learning and observance. Man needs to shape his inwardness according to the highest standards of the Gospel morality.
Inclusiveness Neither different levels of excellence nor the extent of external observance will decide the outcome of human striving for salvation. No one is excluded from the promise of salvation, no matter how poor or rich, ugly or attractive, impaired or strong, of low or high birth. What matters is charity and love.
  Jesus message is very inclusive. Jesus not only tries to persuade the strong and rich to be benevolent and charitable; he asks the weak and poor for more patience and forgiveness.
(III) POSITIONS  
   

Origin:

To be sure, Jesus stands in the tradition of the Law. Jesus taught in the manner of the Rabbis. He did not know he was a Christian. Neither did his disciples. His followers and his audience were predominantly Jewish.

If Jesus as a Jew had already adopted and practiced the Law why did he want to introduce some new virtues? Why did he feel that any addition was appropriate?
Of course, a new moral code would have been pointless if the Law had been given as a complete and divinely consecrated guide of moral conduct! But Jesus found the Law insufficient and defective at least in certain regards. This is what makes him a follower and dissident of the Law at one.

Justification: The Old Law was revealed by God, but it has not been brought to its finality - its implicit promises needed to be fulfilled. Once these expectations are met the Law will be brought to its historical completion. In other words, the Law is still valid in its core but it has not been fully developed in its applications. It contained an expectation of salvation (Messiah) but that promise has been meanwhile forgotten or pushed aside.
Relationship:

If we accept this idea the relationship between the morality of the Law and the morality of the Gospel could be depicted by means of two concentric circles of which the inner (= the core) represents the Mosaic Law while the outer (= the hull) adds the teaching of Jesus as a kind of a final touch to the previous content.

 

Question: What is the status of the core morality within the enlarged circle? Is the Law integrated in it and absorbed by it or rather negated and transformed?
Continuation: Jesus claims he does not want to abolish the Law, only to "make its teachings come true" in the sense of accomplished goals. The addition is, according to him, a natural continuation and further development of the Law, that is to say of its implicit human and messianic promises.
Necessity: Was the very idea of expanding and completing a divine Law a sign of arrogance? It must have been perceived so at least by some contemporaries.
From Jesus' point of view it was not arrogance, but a necessity which rendered unfounded all objections that he was adding something arbitrary of his own.
Validation: To those who were concerned for the fate of the Law after this expansion Jesus gives assurances that it will remain in place. The Law will hold "until the end of all things" (= "the end of time", "Last Judgment"). Jesus asserts not only that the Law will remain valid but that it will apply consistently.
Here is the key to the suggested scale of application:
Graduation:

(1) Whoever disobeys even the smallest of the Commandments will be the smallest in the Kingdom of Heaven (like the dot over "i").

(2) Whoever obeys the Law will be great in the Kingdom of Heaven.

So far both (1) and (2) are fully within the premises of the Law. But the obedience from (2) could be conceived in two different ways. The external obedience to the Law is not the ultimate level of self-perfection as envisioned by Jesus. Hence he sees good reasons for a higher level of perfection and a respective change of conduct.

(3) The greatest will be those who are "more faithful" in doing "what God requires". This means there is more to the Law than it was perceived up to that point. To obey the Law truly in the sense of Jesus is thus more than to be observant in the manner of the teachers (Rabbis) and the Pharisees.

 
Conduct Consequence
Disobedience Insignificance
Obedience Greatness
Faithfulness Salvation
Fulfillment: The Law needs to be fulfilled so that people get a chance to reach the third level of moral appreciation. To fulfill the Law means to bring it to perfection, to complete it "until all things be done". This suggests that there is still something to be done with the Law, albeit without doing away the Law.
Sublation Christianity brought about a fulfillment to the Law not just by adding something to its core (love or mercy), but first and foremost by fully realizing the Law itself. While the (Super-Ego) Law allows freedom to choose observance or not, Jesus imposes love and mercy as obligatory and in that sense more grounded on the authority of an inexorable law. In that sense Jesus' teaching is not the negation of the Law, but its accomplishment as its sublation (Zizek).
Consequence: If the Law is not finished, the familiarity with the Law is not enough for salvation. The observance of the Law secures the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees, but it is not sufficient for the reign as announced by Jesus and coveted by his disciples.

 

New Moral Demands:

Change: The Pharisees asserted that the only way to satisfy God was to strictly abide by the Law. Jesus agrees but he goes behind the legal ruling of the Rabbinic Law to tackle personal and intimate human relations as affected by internal emotions and mental states like anger, contempt, infidelity, mistrust, vengefulness, hatred. He finds here a significant omission within the Law that has created a gap between the external righteousness of ritual acts and the internal quality of the moral agent.
Reversal: Although Jesus assures his predominantly Jewish audience that he is not abolishing the Commandments and their tradition, he introduces so significant modifications that the final moral code appears rather as a radical change of the old morality than as its simple continuation or refinement.
With regard to the substance we can represent this change as a kind of reversal which replaces the hollow core of the old morality with a qualitative content of the new morality so that the old code now assumes more or less the role of a legal shell.
 

   
(IV) EXAMPLES  
   
Improvements: The differences between the two layers of biblical ethos (the Mosaic law and the Gospel morality) are explicated on six examples, all contrasting the precepts of the old with those of the new morality.
   
(1) Murder:
 
Precept
Sanction
Law Thau shalt not murder! Anyone who commits murder over his brother will be brought before judge. Penalty: Death.
Law = Gospel Do not commit murder! Jesus accepts death as punishment for murder. But he wants to punish murderous inclinations as well.
Gospel (+) Do not harbor anger that impels to murder! Do not call names! Whoever is angry and abusive will be prosecuted (officially and spiritually). Penalty: Damnation.
  Radicalization:
 

Moral standards are more demanding than legal. They obligate before everyone ("brother" is not just a kin) and they entail a much higher level of personal responsibility. Therefore, in regards of securing the Kingdom of Heaven it is not sufficient to act so as just to avoid external infringement of the Law, that is to say to act so as not to be legally punishable.
Note: All the more so as the legal authority of the judges and the council was limited by the Romans: the local courts could pass sentences but not condemn to death. This makes room for moral condemnation that represents a more severe punishment than any legal sentence. In fact, the acts of disrespect surpassed the authority of regular judges - critai - and required the judgment of the council (Sanhedrin).

  (a) Anger that impels to murder is as blameworthy as the action itself (act of murder). It displays the same disrespect for human life and dignity. It is of secondary importance whether the anger was caused by something previously done or not, whether the act that prompted it was accidental or willful.
  (b) Calling names (raka = fool, empty-headed; moros = stupid, blockhead) indicates a reprehensible state of mind. Therefore already abusive language entails evil that deserves condemnation.
  (c) Worship cannot redeem for the sin of harboring anger. On the contrary, it has to be postponed until a full reconciliation is attained, - a clear indication that fraternal responsibilities toward co-citizens have primacy over common cultic duties.
  (d) One has to reconcile and stay friendly no matter who has started the confrontation. Litigation is wrong and ought to be avoided. If you get to court your fate is in the hands of the officials, not something you can determine by your own will. And losing control over your own life is reprehensible if it is a result of your own failure.
   
(2) Adultery:
 
Precept
Sanction
Law Thou shalt not commit adultery! Death.
Law = Gospel You shall not commit adultery! Jesus accepts physical execution but adds religious punishment. Adulterer deserves not only stoning but throwing of the whole body into hell.
Gospel (+) You shall not have lustful looks and desires! Removing voluntarily and preemptively the organs that have triggered the adulterous action.
  Radicalization:
  The prohibition of adultery as stated by the Law sanctioned only the unlawful intercourse as a kind of illicit dispossession of somebody's 'property'. Jesus goes beyond the initial motive of protecting 'property' from abuse and chastises both adulterous thoughts and lustful looks in the perpetrator. These affect negatively the internal condition of the agent, his consciousness, his mind.
 
(a) The thought of un-chastity (philandering) injures the marriage bond. Hence whoever looks with lust out of wedlock commits adultery.
  (b) The thought of un-chastity affects the mind. The outbreak of lustful desires in thoughts and looks is therefore as blameworthy as the adulterous action itself.
  (c) It is a profound insight to realize that our thoughts shape our character while looks engage in interaction both passively and actively; all the same, thoughts and looks are not equal to physical actions that are punishable. Therefore to condemn for corporeal or mental reactions which are not fully under conscious control sets the moral bar very high. Many people violate this precept and hardly anybody resorts to the suggested kind of self-punishment.
  (d) A voluntary self-punishment does not eradicate the sin committed in thoughts and desires. If we cut off a hand or an eye the person remains an adulterer although physically crippled. It is therefore impossible to undo the act of adulterous thoughts and looks by physical punishment.
(3) Divorce:  
 
 
Precept:
Sanction:

Law

 

When divorcing give a written notice of divorce to your wife! Legal penalty only for failure to give a letter of notice; wife is not permitted to divorce anyway.
Law = Gospel Divorce is permissible if the wife has not been faithful. For Jesus, this is the only case that justifies divorce. No punishment if it was a case of fornication.
Gospel (+) Never divorce if the wife has not been unfaithful! Damnation.
  Radicalization:
  A letter of notice provided for women the opportunity to seek protection from another man. Thus the Law selectively accepts divorce and regulates it legally. But Jesus does not condone any kind of divorce. On the contrary, he regrds it as a moral nad religious failure.
  (a) Divorce leads to adultery. By divorcing you are inducing adultery on your ex-wife and her next husband if your wife remarries. Therefore both the no-fault and the fault based divorce are prohibited. The supposition is, of course, that marital communion is eternal (one of the sacraments).
  (b) Still, this is the only passage where NT allows divorce at least conditionally. If the wife was engaged in fornication (porneia) then remarrying does not entail adultery?! Therefore divorce should be permissible at least in this case for the man.
(4) Oath:  
 
 
Precept
Sanction

Law

 

Do not break promise sealed by swearing, an oath or vow! Otherwise: You could be cursed and subjected to divine wrath.
Law = Gospel Keep promise! Otherwise: Legal fine or religious condemnation.
Gospel (+) Do not invoke the name of God! Do not make any vow when promising! Otherwise: Moral and religious condemnation.
  Radicalization:
  The Law says keep your promise, especially if you swear by God. Jesus certainly respects the obligation of keeping promise, although he does not stress that obligation explicitly. The reason is that he is more interested in the accompanying act of swearing and taking oath. Seemingly, he wants to dissociate making promises from God altogether whereas (in reality) he calls people to recognize the fact that God is already present in all our acts as a witness.
  (a) Redundancy. God is not separated from oaths and promises. All oaths equally involve God. Hence it does not matter much whether you swear by God loudly or silently. Oaths are simply unnecessary due to the continual presence of God. Therefore do not swear at all.
  (b) Sacrilege. You don't have right to invoke God and his belongings for your purposes. Even less it is appropriate to substitute evasively divine name by something less sacred! Such a substitution is blasphemous. To replace these lower instances by your own head is presumptuous.
  (c) Dishonesty. Finally, swearing and making oaths leaves room for hypocrisy. It indicates certain mendacity and mistrust. Truthfulness should be secured by inner integrity of the person, not by an oath. Therefore everything beyond your word ("yes" or "no") is superfluous (or comes from the "evil one" who is the source of all dishonesty).
  Note: The strange linguistic evolution from swearing in the sense of invoking God to swearing in the sense of saying profanities is made possible owing to the underlying idea of impropriety of calling God outside of devotional context. Invoking the name of God outside of sacral service was profane, which explains why swearing ultimately becomes equal with talking profanities. 
(5) Revenge:  
 
 
Precept:
Sanction

Law

 

Take a tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye! Otherwise: A curse will fall on you.
Gospel (-) (reversal) No agreement. Do not take revenge at all! Otherwise: Condemnation.
Gospel (+) Surrender and reconcile!
Otherwise: No peace.
  Radicalization:
  OT allows and even condones taking revenge. Historically, the principle of retaliation was introduced to curb excessive retribution, not to fuel it. But it became a kind of moral obligation that perpetuates the cycle of violence and displays utter disrespect for human life. This is the reason why Jesus renounces revenge altogether. Moreover, he curbs self-defense and resistance.
Rules:
  (a) Give up the principle of retaliation and do not try to avenge wrongdoing. Break the cycle of revenge by doing something good.
Cf. "Be good to those who are good and to those who are not. For goodness increases goodness." (Lao-tzu)
 

(b) Do not resist the wrongdoer. Yield to violence and find peace in surrendering.
Sometimes it is possible to defeat violence by giving in, but the objective is not just to take control over the situation but to exercise your own will and demonstrate the superiority of the good.

Practical Advices:
1. If you suffer physical violence from one side, turn the other cheek as well (possible effect: disarm the oppressor by submissiveness).

2. Do not litigate. If the contentious thing belongs to you, give it away and add even more. Possible effect: Diffuse tension by giving away (cf. potlatch).

3. If engaged in forced labor go an extra mile (possible effect: the self-imposition of burden may not only confuse the oppressor but eliminate mutual distrust).

4. Lend when asked to borrow something. Give what is asked either as a loan or gift (possible effect: relieve pressure by transforming the status of the demanded thing by your own will).

(6) Love:  
 
 
Precept
Sanction

Law

Popular Law

Love your neighbor!

Hate your enemies!

Otherwise: Risk disfavor among your equals.
Law = Gospel Love your neighbor! Otherwise: Moral condemnation.
Gospel (+) Love your enemies! Otherwise: Falling away from God.
  Radicalization:
  The Old Testament preaches love to your kin and neighbors. A popular addition to OT says hate your enemies (OT allows "sweet" revenge)!
Jesus asks that you love those who hate you. Even your prosecutors who work against you!
This is not a plea for masochism but an indication of full allegiance to the idea of the Brotherhood of Man. You accept the person who does wrong to you as your brother. Enemy is a human being who needs to be regained for humanity. One needs to overcome the instinctive animosity toward those who wrong us and approach them as persons who deserve respect and love. As Kant will note, the love in question is not "passional" (one cannot command emotions) but practical, requiring a compassionate attitude.
Practical Advices (a) Do not divide people into friends and enemies. Otherwise you are offending God, for God gives sunshine and rain to all men. Only loving both neighbors and enemies makes it possible for a man to share God's nature.
  (b) Be different from those who segregate people. How can you be the sons of your Father if you are not different from the Gentiles who speak only to their friends and the Publicans (tax collectors) who love only their likes because they like them. (A strong message to those faithful who cannot imagine loving somebody who does not share their religious views.)
Community of Reconciliation: The ideal is to work for the future reconciliation here on Earth.

"Owe no one anything but the love to one another." (Rom., 13:8)
   

The Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke, 10:25-37)

Question 1: How salvation is to be achieved? By showing love that has two sides.
Answer 2: (a) You must love your Lord with all your heart and (b) you must love your fellow brother (neighbor). These are just different aspects of the same affection.
Cf. "If a man say, I love God, and hatheth his brother, he is a liar." (1 John, 4:20)
"He that loveth not, knoweth not God: for God is love." (John, 4:8)
Competence The stress on love takes away any advantage from those who think they are better beacuse they are knowledgeable and well versed in the Law. The message is clear: Everyone who can love will be saved, even the little ones and uneducated if their capability to feel compassion turns into practical love.
Question 2: Who is my neighbor? (The Law tended to reduce the range of the expression to relatives and physical neighbors.) Now Jesus extends its denotation to all people, even Samaritans.
Samaritans: Samaritans were ethnically and religiously kindred to Jews, but as they became cut off from the worship in the Jerusalem temple the Jews started to regard them as "half-breeds" and "impure".

Point:

Somebody who is by custom hated and despised could be more a fellow man than somebody who is supposed to be "ours" by their ethnicity or religion. The action of the Samaritan was a spontaneous outburst of human love that demonstrated strong personal, although personally disinterested affection of pity and compassion. His action was not derived from the study of the Law, but nonetheless rectified effectively the failure of the ministers of God who were much more supposed to show human compassion and act from that sentiment.
Note: The wording of the story does not allow an outright condemnation of the priest and and the Levite (= an assistant in the temple). They might have thought that the poor man was dead and consequently not to be touched as being impure.
Answer 2: Neighbor is everyone who can be kind and merciful. This means: all fellow men are potentially neighbors and should be treated accordingly.
   
 
Community of Reconciliation
Status: Given this shift of perspective toward universal love it is appropriate to reexamine the initial assessment of the relationship between the old and the new Law. Does Jesus' addition really embrace the core of the old morality just as its final touch or rather works as its suppressant cover and revision? Is the touch that Jesus has added a continuation of the old code or much more its replacement with something different and new in spirit (in that case the outer circle from the previous diagrams would be the only recognizable circle)?
Creed: Jesus preaches the universal brotherhood of man in the universal fatherhood of God. Every man is precious because he partakes in the kinship with the divine Father. Therefore man needs to fill himself with the divine spirit to be united with other men. But this unity with God requires a universal acceptance of human race.
Universal Love: The core of this morality is not respect for the authority of the Law or personal excellence, but undivided love for mankind. Jesus introduces the idea of compassionate and forgiving love for all individual members of human race. No one is excluded from love, not even those who have sinned. No matter whether the person is ugly or not, crippled or not, of low birth or not, all people deserve compassion and forgiveness and all can hope for final redemption.
Alternative: Punishment for the breach of the Law could be always replaced by forgiveness under the condition that the offender accepts responsibility and his guilt. The virtue exhibited in forgiveness is charity.
Community: The charitable alternative to punishment and retaliation transforms the ideal moral community into one of reconciliation. This opens a perspective of a humanity that values human dignity and respects every single individual.
Individual: The true foundation of morality is our interiority, purity of the heart, conscience, will. The phrase "interiorization of moral life" (A. McIntyre) denotes the affirmation of these instances as the real driving forces of moral life.

Christian Morality

Origin
Nature
Purpose
Gospel
Charity/Love
Salvation

 


Jennifer Lopez impersonating a biblical woman exposed to lustful looks.
A collage after G. Dore.

 

"Anyone who looks at a woman and wants to posses her is guilty of committing adultery with her in his heart."

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