In the discussion about Christian’s wielding power over others through the means of democratic government, the question comes up of what is good.
The crux of the question is: Is forcing people to behave in a particular way, so that people’s lives are easier, more comfortable, ‘nicer’, etc., “good”?
I can see that for most people a “good” thing is something that makes life ‘better’ for people. On the other hand we see that ultimately ‘good’ is having a relationship with God, which makes ‘evil’ the state of not having a relationship with good. ‘Good acts’ are therefore the things that we do that come out of our relationship with God and ‘evil acts’ are those things that we do separate from God’s influence. These two views of what ‘good’ is are virtually opposed to each other – the first claiming that good is independent of God, the second that it is dependent on God.
There is nothing wrong with having a subjective definition of ‘good’, it’s quite useful to be able to say “hey that’s good”. However, if we are trying to do good and we believe in God then the idea that we can do good apart from God is actually rather a distraction and can take us away from the good that God wants us to do. In fact, we can end up behaving in ways that oppose God in order to do what we feel is good. Take the simple statement “love your enemy” – we can suddenly turn that on it’s head if we believe that we can do ‘good’ by killing our enemy and stopping them doing the evil things that they were going to do. 🙁 (as if somehow ‘good’ can fill the gap left by the evil things that weren’t committed by our enemy)
This relates to my previous post ‘Freedom
‘, where I ponder whether freedom is a prerequisite for good and whether anything that is forced cannot be good.
It seems to me that God created us with the intention that we have freedom. Before the fall Adam and Eve were entirely free, free to do whatever they wanted – note that they only wanted to do good stuff.
When I think about Jesus’ approach to things, the same seems true – he appears to only give us freedoms. He hasn’t tried to override our free choice – he wants us to freely choose to accept His ways. He challenges us but he doesn’t seem to have made (forced) anyone to do anything. When we do what He wants it seems to me that we do it because part of us wants to do it. Our motive is inside us and the outcome is the good that we do because of that good motive inside of us.
So perhaps we shouldn’t force others to do anything? Obviously the Crusades come to mind, but also other types of politics. Should we force people to pay taxes for good causes by using our power to vote in government elections? Sure, the result may appear to be good, but isn’t there a problem with us impinging on people’s freedoms, and claiming to be acting on behalf of Jesus?
Good time with ICC students in Glasgow if you are trying to find the notes they are on the FYT site here
. Good to meet Chic and hear about stuff going on in Perth and great to spend the evening with the fantastically grounded Hot Choclate and chat to the team. Still here but on my way to aberdeen.
I am off to Scotland next week and have 9 training sessions booked in from Glasgow to Aberdeen via Perth and Dundee
Below are some of sessions slides I will be using
From Off the beaten track to Church on the edge
informal education and semi-detached work
informal education and CPR
There is a link between creativity and thinking outside the box, I have often used edward de bonos ideas for creativity thinking for youth work, and it is great for coming up for ideas for parties but when you explain such random ideas to your friends on the invites you do get the odd strange look. Anyway following on from last years weird beard new years eve party this year thanks to creative thinking processes we are doing One for the road – Come as or with your favourite roadsign!
Over at the the FYT blog
I have started a series on values led mission, the first was Powerlessness, and now incarnation, comments and thoughts welcome
We have finally decided on the new name for the project Streetspace, (prize to Paul) and we have been given a grant of 5k to help postion the project, for some admin support and activities for the next year. So all being well we should be up and running again soon and back at the indian resturant with the young people through the winter.
It is interesting what we see as valuable contributions to dialogue about theology, and what criteria people use to make judgements may contribute to theological discourse. Is it a well reserached piece of exegesis, or biblical study? Is it the qualifications someone has? Is it because we view them as sound, or endorsed by an institution?
I am and the church on the edge or flow work is often in the marmite category, people love it or hate it. Sometimes this is because people dont know me and I use lots of short cuts when I speak about the work, assuming that people have a shared understanding which they dont, – so I loose people or lead them to assume a level of heresy that is not true. However I came across this great quote from Gutierrrez and is one which I need to remember when I hear other peoples stories.
Every theology has a universal significance or to put it more accuratly, every theology is a question and a challenge for belivers living other human situations”
I’m just posting this to add to the archives on the topic ‘Government’ which I (Mark) haven’t added to recently.
Found this great criticism of the activities of Jim Wallis (of sojo.net):
One note I want to add is that his criticism of ‘the social gospel’ is specifically a criticism of social works via government. He doesn’t appear to criticise doing socially good things personally (oneself).