Friday, August 01, 2008

The Moral as Opposed to Ontological Nature of Character

Christianity is learned more like gymnastics than geometry.

In discipleship, it is vital that we realize we are teaching practices and activities and often activities of the heart. The practicioner eventually becomes skilled at these activities. Such an activity might be something like the skill of not resisting evil in the moment of conflict. This is a complex skill that take a lot of practice not the least of which is acts of prayer and practicing the prssence of God.

Goal of all activities is to develop a skill that translates into habit. The activity is to become reflexive or habitual. When an activity is a reflex or is habitual then that activity is said to be part of the persons character. In this model, character is not seen as something ontological but something moral. The reality is that the person with the character trait has a particular moral habit. By moral, I mean that the activity is a path taken in the context of many possible actions. Morally we exist in the realm of possibility. When a particular action or activity is taken consistently and habitually then the activity is called character. Character is then an aguired skill. Therefore, character is a moral choice that is made habitually. The actor has a moral skill or ability to perform the moral actions consistently.

Such character is learned more like gymnastics than geometry.


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