The Scale of Perfection, Book 2, Part 1 – Chapter 1

dohpeterchina's picture

SECTION I: That a Man is the Image of God after the Soul and not after the Body; and how he is restored and reformed thereto that was misshapen by Sin
SECTION II: That Jews and Pagans and also false Christians are not reformed effectually through the virtue of the Passion through their own Faults

These are chapters 1 to 3 of The Scale of Perfection – Book 2 in Middle English:
This chapitle scheweth that a man is seid the image of God aftir the soule and not aftir the bodi.
Hou it nedide to mankynde that oonli thorugh the passioun of oure Lord it schulde be restorid and reformed that was forsaken bi the first synne.
That Jewes and paynymes and also fals Cristene men are not reformed effectuali thorugh vertu of this passioun for here owen defaute.

jnwarren's picture

Faith, Religion & Irrationality

Sorry for the tremendous delay.

Yes, I believe the idea of "sin", as with any idea that we represent to ourselves through language and by means of which we integrate meaning into our lives is historically and culturally contingent. To be believe anything else would require a commitment that reaches beyond what is empirically permissible. This does not mean that "sin", or any other idea we are talking about holds no "value" or is "false"; I merely mean to point out its presence as a matter dependent upon historical development: even Kierkegaard wrangled with tis problem, although I'm not certain I would accept his conservatism and dogmatics as an answer.

I think what we need to ask ourselves, furthermore is whether the ideas we use to understand our environemnts are not actually inhibiting us from changing and influencing that environment for the (relative) better, ie., social justice, the introduction of life-saving technologies, advancements in science and engineering, etc and whetther they have, in fact, outlived their use as socially normative variables. Marx remarks in the Theses on Feuerbach that, in replacing one "idealistic" anthropogenic theory of human nature with another objectively "scientific" (and therefore just as idelistic) theory, Feuerbach was restricting his analysis to his own a priori conceptualizations and, in effect, "putting the cart in front of the horse". It is arguable that all forms of formal, organized religion do this as well, with their emphasis on dogmatic rituals, moral laws and hierarchical structures. This has been pointed out time and time again, by "heretics" such as Joichim de Fiore as well as more recently by Kant, Fichte and Marx, each generation growing more courageous in its ability to distance itself from the seduction of the church's own terms.

I think any organization that becomes as complicit to greed and power and corruption as the orthodox Christian church has has no right to the title of "eschatological" or "apocalyptic" or "egalitarian", etc. etc. The church has arguably become little more than an excuse and an argument for the powers that be all the world over (with the possible exception of "liberation" theologians in Latin and South America, who, albeit derive their most valuable assets not from "theology" per se, but from historical materialist class analysis). It no longer serves (nor did it arguably ever) to erode the hierarchical foundations of capitalism or inequality in the world. Its policies are arcane and reactionary and serve to create, rather than to absolve conflict (eg., abortion, contraceptives, homosexuality) and I therefore see no reason to defend its actions or even its existence as a legitimate power or force in the world today. We have arguably advanced beyond a need of its strict dogmas, which fit us now like old and tattered hand-me-down clothing that has faded and shrunken with age. To accept its dictates a priori is not only reactionary but also lazy. That is not to say that the same cannot be said of Marxism, socialism or any other political or ideological system of belief-- all of which should understand themselves to be products of their social, political and economic context, and take this as a starting point to any consequent social or political action.

I will at a later point articulate my opinions on this more fully, but for the time being, I am content to agree with Marx, who argues that "The foundation of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. Religion is, indeed, the self-consciousness and self-esteem of man who has either not yet won through to himself, or has already lost himself again. But man is no abstract being squatting outside the world. Man is the world of man – state, society. This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of this world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, and its universal basis of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is, therefore, indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. " [Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right Introduction]