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Christian Character: What Is It? Part 4


330px-Dublin_CChrist_Church_Cathedral_Passage_to_Synod_Hall_Window_Fruit_of_the_Spirit_2012_09_26In the last article in this series, we discussed the four cardinal virtues that have existed from the days of the classical Greek philosophers. According to these philosophers, men and women of integrity will exhibit these virtues in their behavior. The four cardinal virtues are these:

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Christian Character: What Is It? Part 3


Vertus_cardinales_par_Germain_Pilon_LouvreIn America’s media-driven society, it appears that being a character is more important than being a person of character. A character is one who has distinctive qualities, often exaggerated, that make him or her stand out from the crowd. That person’s qualities may have nothing to do with the cardinal virtues—if anything, they’re probably just the opposite. Being a person of character, on the other hand, means someone lives a life characterized by these cardinal virtues.

Yet unfortunately, the cardinal virtues are all but forgotten in our educational systems, in business, in politics, and even, it seems, in our churches.

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How Are Christians to View Government?: Lessons from Church History, Part 5


401201In Part 4 of this series, we looked at the beginnings of Protestant resistance theory, that is, the question of when it is acceptable for a Christian to resist an unjust government. The emerging consensus, beginning with Luther’s Torgau Memorandum (1530), was that when the king broke the fundamental laws of God or of the kingdom, the “lesser magistrates” had the right and responsibility to lead resistance against the king.

Although in the wake of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacres (1572), in which thousands of Huguenots were murdered across France, French Calvinists took more radical positions on the question of resistance, overall they showed remarkable restraint: They continued to argue for resistance led by the lesser magistrates, with only a few allowing for resistance by the people directly, and then only in carefully defined situations.

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Christian Character: What Is It? Part 2


Synaxis_of_the_Twelve_Apostles_by_Constantinople_master_early_14th_c._Pushkin_museumFrom Aristotle to Aquinas and into the present day, the development of character is understood to be a matter of the choices we make. This is also true of the development of a Christ-like character, with this one important caveat: A Christ-like character is the outcome of the cooperative work between the Holy Spirit and us, and involves choosing to wisely love God with our whole hearts, minds, and strength, and love our neighbors as ourselves.

A Divine/Human Endeavor

As mentioned in my last article, the word “character” comes from the Greek word transliterated “charactêr,” which was the name given an image impressed upon a coin. A Christian’s character is to be the image of Christ that is being impressed upon us through the work of the Holy Spirit.

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How are Christians to View Government?: Lessons from Church History, Part 4

Francois_Dubois_001In the previous article, we looked at the foundations of Protestant political thought in the 16th century, notably Luther’s doctrine of the Two Kingdoms. The righthand Kingdom consists of the true church, which is invisible and known only to God; the lefthand Kingdom is in the visible world and is governed under God via the state and the church. Since the state is ordained by God, Christians need to acknowledge and follow its authority.

But what happens when the state turns against God? What do we do if it orders us to do something that God forbids, or forbids something that God commands? Do we have a right of resistance? Is there a right to self-defense against the government?

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Christian Character: What Is It?


ThinkstockPhotos-99012023In a culture that values pushing oneself ahead and uses material acquisition as the sign of a successful life, cheating becomes an avenue of achievement. The recent Volkswagen scandal, in which the cars’ diesel engines were engineered to cheat on emissions tests, reminds us that cheating also takes place on a corporate level. Cheating has become endemic in the entertainment world, with infidelity celebrated in movies and on television; it is taking place even in our military academies that operate on honor codes, in whose institutions men and women are supposedly trained to be leaders of character. In June of 2012, 78 Air Force Academy cadets were accused of cheating on a math exam; later, there was enough evidence to convict 10 of breaching the honor code.

G. C. Jones, in “1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching,” tells this story about cheating:

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