Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Deleting Faith in God => Moral Relativism => Tyranny

"The world comes from reason [Logos] and this reason is a Person, is Love--this is what our biblical faith tells us about God. Reason can speak about God, it must speak about God, or else it cuts itself short. Included in this is the concept of creation.

"The world is not just maya, appearance, which we must ultimately leave behind. It is not merely the endless wheel of sufferings, from which we must try to escape. It is something positive. It is good, despite all the evil in it and despite all the sorrow, and it is good to live in it. God, who is the Creator and declares himself in his creation, also gives direction and measure to human action. We are living today in a crisis of moral values [Ethos], which by now is no longer merely an academic question about the ultimate foundations of ethical theories, but rather an entirely practical matter. The news is getting around that moral values cannot be grounded in something else, and the consequences of this view are working themselves out. The published works on the theme of moral values are stacked high and almost toppling over, which on the one hand indicates the urgency of the question, but on the other hand also suggests the prevailing perplexity. Kolakowski, in his line of thinking, has very emphatically pointed out that deleting faith in God, however one may try to spin or turn it, ultimately deprives moral values of their grounding. If the world and man do not come from a creative intelligence, which stores within itself their measure and plots the path of human existence, then all that is left are traffic rules for human behavior, which can be discarded or maintained according to their usefulness. All that remains is the calculus of consequences--what is called teleological ethics or proportionalism.

"But who can really make a judgment beyond the consequences of the present moment? Won't a new ruling class, then, take hold of the keys of human existence and become the managers of mankind? When dealing with a calculus of consequences, the inviolability of human dignity no longer exists, because nothing is good or bad in itself anymore. The problem of moral values is back on the table again, and it is an item of great urgency. Faith in the Logos, the Word that is in the beginning, understands moral values as responsibility, as a response to the Word, and thus gives them their intelligibility as well as their essential orientation. Connected with this also is the task of searching for a common understanding of responsibility, together with all honest, rational inquiry and with the great religious traditions. In this endeavor there is not only the intrinsic proximity of the three great monotheistic religions, but also significant lines of convergence with the another strand of Asian religiosity as we encounter in Confucianism and Taoism."

"...[H]ow little we are capable of defining God, much less fathoming him. ...God's answer to Job explains nothing, but rather sets boundaries to our mania for judging everything and being able to say the final word on a subject, and reminds us of our limitations. It admonishes us to trust the mystery of God in its incomprehensibility. Having said this, we must still emphasize the brightness of God, too, along with the darkness. Ever since the Prologue to the Gospel of John, the concept of Logos has been at the very center of our Christian faith in God. Logos signifies reason, meaning, or even 'word'--a meaning, therefore, which is Word, which is relationship, which is creative. The God who is Logos guarantees the intelligibility of the world, the intelligibility of our existence, reason's accord with God and God's accord with reason, even though his understanding infinitely surpasses ours and to us may so often appear to be darkness."

Joseph Ratzinger, "Introduction to the 2000 edition of Introduction to Christianity" in The Essential Pope Benedict XVI, eds. Thornton and Varenne, New York: HarperOne, 2008, 11-12. (With minor editing by Plinthos, comparing that text with the second edition of Introduction to Christianity, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2004 and the German edition Einführung in das Christentum, München: Zeitgeist, 2000, 23-25).
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