No, Mr. Platt. That is not the center.

David Platt

No, Mr. Platt.

The central message of Christianity is about the God who caters to Himself - who overflowed with self-worship in the creation and redemption of a people who would passionately pursue their own, individual, personal happiness throughout their entire life, utilizing every aspect of His creation in a way that fulfills all of their deepest rational desires and magnifies the greatness of His self-exaltation.

The fact that this life-long, passionate, ‘self-catering’, pursuit implies that there will be instances of ‘abandoning’ minor, short-term and concrete-bound ‘pleasures’ is just that: an implication – a minor implication which is to be noted and moved beyond.

The only way that such a small implication could be confused for a central end is by the disgrace of a marred and truncated worldview: Truncated, because its myopic vision can only see the immediate phenomena of the transaction (the ‘price’) without relation to the greater and ruling context of that which the price serves (the obtaining of a greater value); Marred, because its tainted vision can only see the negative (‘loss’ or ‘self-abandonment’) without relation to the greater and ruling context of that which inspires, fuels, and triumphs over the negative (ultimate self gain).

To advocate ‘self-abandonment’ apart from the infinitely greater context of self-value and self-gain is to ignore or belittle the greatness of God’s happiness in Himself – from which and to which flow His apparent ‘sacrifice’. Worse, to insist that ‘self-abandonment’ be the center of Christianity, is to insist that ultimate self-obliteration be the central aim of God, and rightfully, also, His people.

4 thoughts on “No, Mr. Platt. That is not the center.

  1. So, you advocate the position that egoism, approximately as defined by Ayn Rand, is compatible with Christianity.

    I'll start with the obvious question: How do you reconcile the Sermon on the Mount (and other Christian teachings) with worldly egoism?

    On the one hand, we have Jesus:
    "Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth."
    and
    "...love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"
    and
    "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." (Matthew 5:39-42)
    and
    "Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 10:37-39)
    and
    "Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”
    “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”
    “Which ones?” he inquired.
    Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
    “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
    Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."" (Matthew 19:16-21)
    and
    "Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done." (Matthew 21:21)
    and John:
    "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." (1 John 2:15)
    and Paul:
    "Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” So then, no more boasting about human leaders!" (1 Corinthians 3:18-21)
    and so on and on and on...

    On the other hand, we have Ayn Rand:
    "One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.
    Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil.
    It is obvious who profits and who loses by such a precept. It is not justice or equal treatment that you grant to men when you abstain equally from praising men’s virtues and from condemning men’s vices. When your impartial attitude declares, in effect, that neither the good nor the evil may expect anything from you—whom do you betray and whom do you encourage?" (VoS, 71)
    and
    "I saw that evil was impotent—that evil was the irrational, the blind, the anti-real—and that the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it." (FNI, 165)
    and
    "Reason is man’s only means of grasping reality and of acquiring knowledge—and, therefore, the rejection of reason means that men should act regardless of and/or in contradiction to the facts of reality." (RoP, 162)
    and so on...

    You seem to decry faith, like Ayn Rand, and yet the Jesus of the Bible extols faith as capable of moving mountains.
    The utter pacifism and moral passivity preached by Jesus and the apostles is contrary to Miss Rand's conception of justice.
    Paul specifically says about what he calls "love" that it "is not self-seeking."
    Jesus compares his followers to a flock of sheep that need a shepherd, whereas Rand sees humans as independent, rational beings.
    After his death, Jesus's followers were "of one heart and soul" and practiced communalism, having "everything in common," whereas Rand's heroes in the Valley held private property to be sacrosanct.

    Are you a Christian who rejects the teachings of Christ? How is a "Christian egoist" not an oxymoron in your view? Whatever one may claim about alleged rewards in the next life, is it not clear that, with regard to this life, Christianity preaches faith and self-sacrifice?

    Reply
  2. Regarding your concerns about faith, please see this post: http://thechristianegoist.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/faith-the-fruit-of-reason/

    Regarding the rest, the work of this blog, my book, and future writings is to thoroughly address those and similar questions. A mere comment would simply not suffice. I'm building the foundation - the rest is yet to come. I have established some necessary grounds of objectivity (http://thechristianegoist.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/jesus-christ-and-ayn-rand/), the roles of faith and reason (the above link), and the existence of God (http://thechristianegoist.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/godthe-immovable-mover/).
    I will say that the key to resolving your dilemma is already contained within this and other posts - it just isn't fully and explicitly elaborated on... yet.

    So for now, with that in mind, I simply leave you with this:

    "Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong." -Atlas Shrugged

    Reply
  3. LukeThompson

    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    FOR theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
    Blessed are those who mourn,
    FOR they will be comforted.
    Blessed are the meek,
    FOR they will inherit the earth.”

    Take a look at the grounds of the arguments. Why is the person to do the things that Jesus said would make you blessed? All the blesseds are followed by promises of self-interested fulfillment.

    This is self-interest. Self-love. "Selfishness", finding its fulfillment in a profound love of God and others.

    Reply

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