August 16, 2006

The Evangelical Work Ethic

Posted in church, philosophy of religion, psychology of religion, scripture, theology at 9:51 am by Jerry

I was hoping to continue my conversation in the comments of my previous post (Is “Salvation” worth saving?), but suddenly the contributions stopped. So I wrote another post here in response to the discussion.

What is salvation? Can we do anything to get into Heaven? What do the biblical authors mean when they say things like “by grace you have been saved through faith” and “work out your salvation” and “we love, because He first loved us”?

Can we purposely think things and feel things that will get us into Heaven without God’s help? Or is there no human work (physical, mental, emotional) we can do to get into Heaven? Does God take care of it all? OR, does salvation require both divine AND human work for us to get into Heaven?

At the end of the conversation that developed in the comments to my previous post, the eternal suffering the bible says people will experience in Hell was justified by the desire to be able to choose, for ourselves, whether we will answer the Afterlife Ultimatum with a ‘yes’ to God or a ‘yes’ to eternal suffering. I thought this to truly be intriguing. Do all Evangelicals want to believe people will go to Hell because they want to be able to work their way into Heaven to some degree?

That sounded a little too individualistic, didn’t it? Not to worry. Evangelicals know the Golden Rule. Their Work Ethic includes working for others’ salvation as well as their own.

Evangelicals may describe their product in advertisements to be “FREE”, but we know that sacrificing one ideology for another is not free. There is a trading of goods, of sorts. It’s a capitalistic spirituality (Capitalism isn’t always a bad thing, is it?). Evangelicals, (1) purchase basic ideological materials from the bible, at specified cost in one’s conscience, (2) put materials together in a personal form, (3) gain a profit by selling it at a higher cost.

The original cost in one’s conscience is accepting a relationship based on an abusive Afterlife Ultimatum. The higher cost is, in addition to the original cost, considering seller trustworthy, accepting sales pitch filled with euphemisms, and becoming a salesperson as well. Profits are: finding others to sell product to in order to repress struggling conscience with the perceived psychological comfort of a community told to act spiritually intimate. I say “act” because genuine spiritual intimacy would uncover each other’s conscience. (Was that harsh?)

Obviously, the value of “Freewill” among Evangelicals is high. But what exactly is the meaning Evangelicals derive from having Freewill versus not having Freewill? Is it a piece of cosmic control? You know, to control in whatever small degree, one’s destiny? Some may say it’s about being “accountable” or having “responsibility”. But I don’t understand why determinism is thought to exclude responsibility.

If all was determined, we’d still be responsible for our own lot, hate it and/or love it, and make changes to it (Determinism doesn’t mean against our will). Only, after many changes were done, we’d eventually realize we were unconsciously fulfilling our own destiny. Some seem to think there’s no meaning in life without Freewill. I think, we don’t need to create something out of nothing to give it meaning. If we didn’t CHOOSE to love someone, our active love STILL has meaning.

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