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Monday, October 13, 2014

Life Choices and Christian Perfection

Merle Harton, Jr.

There is a prejudice among some persons that it is not possible for a Christian to live the Christian life and remain where one is. According to this perspective, the world is just too strong a force for the Christian to face every day. One outcome of this view is that the Christian must live the saintly life in order to live the life of an authentic Christian. Of course, the saintly life may mean the ascetic life, the monastic life, the priestly life, the life of the vocational Christian worker. But the Christian cannot be a manager, lawyer, physician, secretary, factory worker, daylaborer: such positions and professions are inconsistent with the saintly Christian lifestyle. Commerce is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle; it is after all built entirely on the lurid acquisition of wealth, and this, as we all know, is a bonafide evil. It just cannot be done. We have to separate ourselves from the world.

This does not necessarily express a denial that Christian perfection is possible, but only that it requires extraordinary changes—typically a radical change of lifestyle—in order to get it.

Quite curiously, though, Paul says precisely the opposite. "Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him." [1 Cor. 7:20] Status and profession are altogether irrelevant to the Christian life. Was he circumcised or uncircumcised? A slave or freed? A painter or a tent maker? It is irrelevant to the issue. "Keeping God's commands is what counts," says Paul [1 Cor. 7:19]. So the important issue is not vocation or life's station, but rather the ability to achieve maturity in the Christian life.  

Read it all here.

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