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Christian Faith Is Not About Morality!

October 29, 2013

Recently I came across this quote:

“The true meaning of religion is thus not simply morality, but morality touched by emotion.” (Matthew Arnold)

What do you make of that? It’s a good sound-bite, something you might see on a bumper sticker or as a poster. But is it true? I think not.

For one thing, there is no such thing as “religion”. There are “religions”, but they differ far too much from each other to be lumped together into one concept.

Secondly, if we assume that by “religion” the author means “Christianity”, he’s wrong in making morality the focal point at all. Even though being a disciple of Jesus assumes morality, it’s so much more than that!

Maybe the problem is that Arnold “rejected the supernatural elements in religion, even while retaining a fascination for church rituals” – an attitude I find very hard to understand. Without the supernatural elements, religion is pointless – however emotional it might be. If there is no God, if God hasn’t intervened in human history, if God didn’t send his Son to die for my sins and to rise for my justification, if God isn’t actively involved in my life – then religion is pointless, and church rituals would be about the worst time-waster I can think of…

In September, we had the joy of baptising two people, Bob and Lara. They weren’t baptised into some new morality, however emotional; they were baptised into a new life in the company of their risen Lord and Saviour. I don’t think it was the allure of a lifetime of church services that made my 13-year-old daughter want to make a public declaration of faith! Instead, it’s the knowledge that Jesus loves her and that God is always there with her. At her baptism service, we sang the words

You go before me, you’re there beside me, and if I wander, love will find me;
Goodness and mercy will always follow; You go before me, my Guardian.

That quote expresses much better than Arnold’s word what it means to be a true child of God!



From → Christianity, Faith, Jesus

One Comment
  1. I’m glad the Christian faith is not about morality and how “good” we can be. The good that I do is simply not good enough. The Scriptures do tell us that our good deeds are like filthy rags in the eyes of God. I’m glad we can rest our hope and salvation upon Jesus!

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