As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Freedom, Rights and Christianity

An Athonite elder said, "The more spiritual a person is, the fewer rights he wants in this life."

Do you agree with this? Why or why not?


Blogger Hajiburton said...

Esteemed Pauper,

I agree most heartily with the Elder's politics, although perhaps not with his metaphysics. I wonder what he means by "spiritual." It is possible to envision many definitions, some of which would be quite distasteful to my theological palette. If, of course, by "spiritual" he means, "having an understanding of the world which closely conforms to God's own as represented in the Scriptures," then, of course, he will think little of his rights, and, like the chastened Job, will think rather of the glory of God. Rights, as our other brother pointed out, are a construction necessary to get on in the world, but hold no currency in the heavenly economy.
In fact, at this historical distance, we may understand the democrats, led by Paine, to have done injury to the Word of God by making it preach the "rights of man." Likewise the Jefferson's words in the American Constitution, following the spirit of the age, construed those rights of man as including "life," "liberty" and "the pursuit of happiness," none of which are promised by Scripture. Rather, in more soberly Reformed language, we might understand those entities, unquestionable though it may be that society must do its utmost to uphold them equitably, as "good gifts of God," and, by virtue of their provenance, properly inalienable by men, except on pain of judgment. The spiritual lesson to be learned here is that, since life and its associated blessings are "good gifts" provided by the Creator, it rests with the Creator to preserve or revoke them, and silly little oppressors who harass their fellow man hardly even deserve the censure of the man who lives his life toward God.
No. The loud clamor for one's rights, like sarcasm, provokes its opposite, and, as Golding reminds us, is "the protest of the weak."

3:35 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...


On the subject of "spirituality", I don't pretend to know what exceedingly wise monks meant by the word. But if I were to pretend I knew, I would say they meant "Not concerned with the things of this world." How does that figure with your metaphysics?

For the record, I don't think there is any such thing as "so heavenly-minded you're no earthly good."

6:24 PM  
Blogger Josh White said...

I agree with the statement. The concept of "rights" has very little to do with our spiritual walk and everything to do with living here on earth. Spiritually, we have no rights because we are "bought with a price" and God created everything in the first place. That being said, I am going to continue to fight for my right to PAAAAAARTY!

7:25 PM  
Blogger Hajiburton said...

Dear PF,
As to my metaphysics, I rather think that it depends on what Exceedingly-Wise-Monks meant by "things of the world." Monasticism has sometimes (not always) piled a great many things which are of heavenly worth onto the bonfire of the vanities, or, at the very least, vieweed good gifts of God not to be looked upon as sinful, as just that.
I might suggest that what is often meant in the New Testament by the word "spiritual" is not a mood that eschews material possessions or enjoys candlelight, but someone who is filled with and shares the values of the Spirit of God who is at work in the world to make all things new. Of course, this makes the petty clamor for "rights" seem pitifully beside the point. The Spirit, though, in the rushing wind of His vitality, may also make our preference for candlelight and empty rooms appear more "earthly-minded" than it might first appear.

Sir R.F. Burton

PS: The right to party is above contention.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pauper Frater said...
For the record, I don't think there is any such thing as "so heavenly-minded you're no earthly good."

Edwin cautiously disagrees:

It is possible to be deluded into thinking only of heaven and not of Christ's mission on Earth - not of our mission on Earth.

If Jesus was unconcerned with the world, he would not have come down into it, nor would he have sent us to preach the Good News to it, nor to baptize its people. He would not have given us the Beatitudes nor the Works of Mercy.

Anthony of the Desern, one of the fathers of monasticism, accepted the responsibility of leadership of a community of hermits - despite his desire to be alone with God. Why? This same St. Anthony came out of seclusion to debate with the Arians at Nicaea. Why? Because we are all called to continue the mission of Christ in the World.

The Catholic call to "Sacramental life" is the call to incarnate the spiritual. We are the only face of Jesus on Earth.

1:38 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

The way I define "heavenly-minded" is different than the anonymous author of the quote implied, I think. For the one that is truly "heavenly-minded" (like Christ), he will both be detached from the things of this world, and full of love for the world and those in it. Thus, according to my definition, to be heavenly-minded is the BEST thing to be!

8:02 PM  

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