- What does it mean to be a Christian?
- What are Christian virtues?
- How does the Old Testament differ from the New Testament?
- How can we be sure about the credibility of the Bible?
- Who was Jesus?
- What is the evidence that Jesus was a historical figure?
- What evidence suggests that Jesus was divine or that the Bible is divine in source?
- What is the Christian worldview?
- What is the atheist worldview?
- How can Christians answer the New atheist arguments?
- How should Christians approach challenges to the faith?
- How can I learn more about Christian apologetics?
“Men, in order to do evil, must first believe that what they are doing is good.”
The quote is about humility. Its not about ethics. If you read it as a rejection of ethics, I don’t think you’re thinking contextually or concretely.
Plus, this kind of thinking strikes me as a bit wrong-headed. Lets not try to be ethical, because bad people wrap what they say is good in the language of the ethical.
You don’t stop being Mother Tereasa because there are Hitlers out their who claim to be ethical. You double down on being Mother Teresa.
Jesus lived a life of love, kindness, compassion, honesty, service, self-sacrifice, and forgiveness. The historical role of these values in fostering positive relationships is hard to ignore. That’s what I will defend as the core of the ethical life. In fact, if more people did this tomorrow, 99% of the worlds problems would disappear in the twinkling of an eye. They would dissolve as the emotionally rooted problems they are.
What one needs to confront is that emotions can be good or bad, so doing away with emotions or suppressing emotions isn’t the answer. That’s how you end up like Sheldon or Spock and somewhat detatched from reality. That same detatchment from reality and empathy is what results in draconian final solutions.
Contrarily, when we apply the Golden Rule to such situations, we have a tool that has an ethical core—one in which the humanity of the other person is taken seriously. The Golden Rule is the bridge from where we are to a better world relationally and civilizationally.
In fact to return to Alexander Solzhenitzyn
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”
Silence in the face of real evil is a tragedy.
Beyond that I think looking at the heart of the message provides illuminance in the face of darkness. Tim Keller highlights:
“At the heart of the Christian faith is a man dying for his enemies, praying for their forgiveness rather than retaliating. The cross reveals a God who is so committed to justice that the cross was necessary. Sin and evil cannot be overlooked—they must be judged. Yet at the same time it shows us a God who longing that he was willing to bear the cost and take the judgement himself. He refuses to chose between truth and love—he will have both, and the only way for that to happen is if he pays the price for forgiveness himself.
“This becomes the Christian model of self-donation, or sacrificial love and forgiveness. But the cross doesn’t simply give us an inspiring example. Through faith in the cross we get a new foundation for an identity that both humbles us out of our egotism yet it so infallibly secure in love that we are enabled to embrace rather than exclude those who are different.” ( An Invitation to Skeptics, p. 147)
Finally, I would reference my article about the inherent contradiction between humanism and atheism. You have to pick one. You can’t have both.
I highly recommend the above article if this is an issue that you’ve been wrestling with or that you really want answers about.
Best of luck in your search for answers, my friend.
Its worth noting that elsewhere that AS highlighted this theme of humility:
“Pride grows on the human heart like lard on a pig.”
This quote which provides the basis for the ethical life is quite compelling and artful:
“… What about the main thing in life, all its riddles? If you want, I’ll spell it out for you right now. Do not pursue what is illusionary -property and position: all that is gained at the expense of your nerves decade after decade, and is confiscated in one fell night. Live with a steady superiority over life -don’t be afraid of misfortune, and do not yearn for happiness; it is, after all, all the same: the bitter doesn’t last forever, and the sweet never fills the cup to overflowing. It is enough if you don’t freeze in the cold and if thirst and hunger don’t claw at your insides. If your back isn’t broken, if your feet can walk, if both arms can bend, if both eyes can see, if both ears hear, then whom should you envy? And why?
“Our envy of others devours us most of all. Rub your eyes and purify your heart -and prize above all else in the world those who love you and who wish you well. Do not hurt them or scold them, and never part from any of them in anger; after all, you simply do not know: it may be your last act before your arrest, and that will be how you are imprinted on their memory.”
…. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either, but right through every human heart, and through all human hearts. This line shifts. Inside us, it oscillates with the years. Even within hearts overwhelmed by evil, one small bridgehead of good is retained; and even in the best of all hearts, there remains a small corner of evil.
…. If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
You could also read the first quote as about the heart. I think the other quotes I point to including the one above point out the larger purpose, message, and context that Alexander Solzhenitzyn is speaking into and about. Its only when you de-contextualize the original quote that the message is ultimately lost or rather distorted.
But more importantly, this further points to Alexander S’s alignment with Christian values and Christianity: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1319589.From_Under_the_Rubble
After his research, he was able to narrow the answer down to 5 daily habits…
1. EXERCISE: Cardiovascular exercise for a minimum of 15 mins.
2. MEDITATE: Meditate for a minimum of two minutes. He states the meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing for those two minutes, regardless of your location. You can even be sitting in a cubicle.
3. THANKS/PRAISE: Give thanks or praise. Say thank you to someone or give praise to someone for something specific. However, it must be a new person each day.
4. GRATITUDE: Write down three things that you are grateful for. However, it must be from something that occurred in the past 24 hours, and needs to be different every day.
The reason for this is because they found that most people would write a generic “health,” “family,” “God,” etc. which causes you to become desensitized. Therefore, it needs to be within the past 24 hours and different every day.
5. POSITIVE EVENT: Write down three specific details about a positive event that occurred in the past 24 hours. The more specific the better.
- Source: Phil Michaels
Here are the 12 groups that saw Jesus after he was resurrected from the dead:
1) Mary Magdalene (Mark 16.9-11; John 20.11-18), Peter in Jerusalem (Luke 24.34; 1 Cor. 15.5), Jesus’ brother (insider skeptic) James (1 Cor. 15.7). “And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any [man]; for they were afraid” (Mark 16.8). Some of the New Testament authors explicitly claimed to be eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (and transfiguration). Peter said, “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2 Pet. 2.16). John also said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched…we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard” (1 John 1.1,3).
2) The other women at the tomb (Matthew 28.8-10).
3) The two travelers on the road (Mark 16.12,13; Luke 24.13-34).
4) Ten disciples behind closed doors (Mark 16.14; Luke 24.35-43; John 20.19-25).
5) All the disciples, with Thomas, excluding Judas Iscariot (John 20.26-31; 1 Cor. 15.5).
6) Seven disciples while fishing (John 21.1-14).
7) Eleven disciples on the mountain (Matthew 28.16-20).
8) A crowd of 500 “most of whom are still alive” at the time of Paul writing (1 Cor. 15.6). This may have been the same group as in Matt. 28.16: the rendezvous was to “to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.” Unlike the other accounts which were unexpected and by surprise, and to gather such a large number of people, this meeting was held outdoors. The women were told to tell the disciples to meet Jesus in Galilee as well. “And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted” (Matt. 28.17) may be a reference to many present, both believers and non-believers. Paul had firsthand contact with them. So it was not a legend. He knew some of the people had died in the interim, but most were still alive. He is saying in effect they are still around to be questioned. You can talk to some of the witnesses. He never could have made this challenge if this event had not occurred.
9) “Then to all the apostles” (1 Cor. 15.7) which includes the Twelve plus all the other apostles.
10) Jesus appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem (Luke 24.44-49).
11) Those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven (Mark 16.19,20; Luke 24.50-53; Acts 1.3-8).
12) Least of all Paul (outsider skeptic) with others present and as though he was not living in the proper time (1 Cor. 15.8-9; Gal. 1.13-16; Acts 9.1-8, 22.9, read all of chapters 22 and 26; 13.30-37; 1 Cor. 15.10-20; Gal. 2.1-10).
From one of the key sources on Teaching for Transformation:
There are 10 Biblical Through Lines that a teacher can select for a given unit:
1) God – Worshipping: Students understand that worshipping God is about celebrating who God is, what God has done and is doing, and what God has created. Students see worship as a way of life.
2) Idolatry – Discerning: Students will understand that when other “things” are more important to us than our relationship with God, they become idols. Students will be challenged to identify, understand and discern the idols of our time and to then respond prophetically.
3) Earth – Keeping: Students will respond to God’s call to be stewards of all of creation.
4) Beauty – Creating: Students will celebrate God as the #1 CREATOR and understand that when we create things we show that we are made in God’s image. We offer praise to God by creating beautiful things. Our creativity makes God smile!
5) Justice – Seeking: Students will act as agents of change by identifying and responding to injustices.
6) Creation – Enjoying: Students will celebrate God’s beautiful creation.
7) Servant – Working: Students will work actively to heal brokenness and bring joy.
8) Community – Building: Students will be active pursuers and builders of communal shalom.
9) Image – Reflecting: Students bear the image of God in their daily lives. All humans are image reflectors.
10) Order – Discovering: Students will find harmony and order in God’s creation.
You can learn more about Teaching for Transformation from a Christian perspective here.