Archive for February 8th, 2007

Rulekeeping vs. Character Development

February 8, 2007

I’m almost finished reading The Divine Conspiracy, and I’ll have to say that it has grown on me along the way. Lots of very good stuff interspersed with the rest, and though I’m not buying the whole farm, there has been much I’ve needed to hear.

I’ll post a few longer excerpts and ask for your thoughts in the next few weeks, but one specific sentence is enough for me to chew on today. Dallas Willard writes, “The Pharisee takes as his aim keeping the law rather than becoming the kind of person whose deeds naturally conform to the law.”

I think that is worth donning a bucket alongside Gomer Pyle and “taking a think.”

I was raised with heavy emphasis on religious “rules to keep” and little talk of “becoming a kind of person.” Though it makes perfect sense, it is a revolutionary thought to my religious system that Jesus was most interested in one becoming the type of person whose actions “naturally conform to the law” as opposed to getting people to do the right things.

Is it too bold to attribute the thought to Jesus, “If you do the right things, but without the right heart, than what’s the point?” I don’t think so. Even Paul’s soliloquy on love argues that religious heroism such as martyrdom and vows of poverty are useless without being “the kind of person” that would do these naturally.

I was raised to “hope” people become that kind of person, but it wasn’t the most important thing. “Being saved” WAS most important. From hell, that is. And for many that remains most important.

I don’t believe “being saved from hell” is the most important thing. Not anymore. Not even close.

We have so much else to “be saved” from before even worrying about what might happen when this life is over, and chief among these is being saved from ourselves.

Which would mean that “becoming” something trumps following a set of rules hands down.