Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Belief, character, behavior, perception…

Our behavior is an expression of our character.

Our character is an expression of our beliefs.

Our beliefs are a codification of our perceptions.

If we can modulate our perceptions, and perceptual environment, by systematically altering out behavior, we can alter our beliefs and, in turn, our character, which will also influence our behavior. This is praxis. This is the "technique" of ascesis and sacramental devotion.

The soteriological dispute between Protestants and mainline classical Christians about "works vs. faith" runs much deeper than the exegesis of various biblical passages. The proper teaching on salvation must reflect Jesus' basic account of being(s), definition, and agency. "You shall know a tree by its fruit"––that is a very Aristotelian concept. Powers stem from essence; actions reveal powers. Essence is revealed, or known, in the (actual) application(s) of its given powers.

"You look at the signs of the weather but do not look at the signs of the times"––a semiotic thesis. If a thing's existence integrally includes its semiotic relations to other subjects, then a thing's real nature must include its outward 'performance(s)'. If a subject's faith, faith rooted in an object, does not manifest in certain signs, in certain 'performances', then it is not essentially the faith that the subject is seeking.

Fides formata et informata, I know, I know… but it would be an interesting study to see how Jesus' naturalistic and often philosophically robust parables illuminate the "faith vs. works" dispute. The task of faith is to align itself with the signs presented by its object so that the subject generates the appropriate signs on its own. If you do not 'perform' such signs, objectively you have no faith and thus no salvation.

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