Friday, February 24, 2012

A Thought

“We don't say that every decision a person makes is necessarily a product of one's Free Will capacity. Like modern psychology, Judaism agrees with the fact that people's actions can be rooted in Nature or Nurture—i.e., genetics or conditioning. However, unlike modern psychology, Judaism rejects the assertion that all of people's actions are rooted in Nature or Nurture. Rather, every human being has at least a point of Free Will choice—i.e., a scenario in which he or she can go in either direction, either toward Good or toward Evil.”  Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov, “Kabbalah Korner”

The United Methodist Christian perspective on this concept of Free Will is stated as a “corruption of the nature of every man … naturally engendered of the offspring of Adam … far gone from original righteousness” (Book of Discipline, Article VII – of Original or Birth Sin).  In other words, we may be more inclined toward evil than toward good.  This is a hard concept to embrace because we don’t generally consider ourselves – or even our unbelieving neighbor – to be inherently “evil”.  This ideal, however, has to be considered in a) what “evil” really means, and b) what “good” really means.  And both, to the world in which we live, are relative; “relative” to our nature (genetics) or “relative” to our nurture (cultural conditioning, how we were raised).

In the World which is to come, however, both “good” and “evil” are relative to an entirely different standard, the Divine Standard that dismisses what we have been enculturated to accept as “normal” and challenges us to reach higher.  This is consistent with the 4th-century Church father St. Augustine who suggested that anything which does not actively and intentionally pursue godliness and righteousness is in itself “evil”, including even that which is “benign” – doing neither good nor evil.

Let us choose the Higher Plain.  Let us reach for and embrace the Divine Standard that challenges us to break free of the bondage that is our “nature” and our “nurture”; and reach beyond ourselves to that which offers to us Everlasting Life – the New Covenant which is Christ our Lord.


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