Sunday, September 04, 2011

I found following quotation from N. T. Wright's After You Believe over at Ted Gossard's blog.  I think it's profoundly accurate.
Is it paradoxical to say that cultivating virtue is a matter of looking away from yourself? If so, the paradox is only apparent, not real. Of course morality must take root deep within the individual. To insist on that, as virtue does, is to insist that it is neither an externally imposed rule, nor a calculation of consequences that could in principle have been done by a computer, nor a matter of discovering what is in the depths of one’s heart and being true to it. But if “morality” ends up coming to its focal point in faith, hope, and love, then–though it will spring from deep within–its actual focal point is outside the self and in the God and the neighbor who are being loved, in the God who is the object of faith and hope and the neighbor who is to be seen, and loved, in the light of that faith and that hope. Or, to put it another way: at this point, even the words “faith,” “hope,” and “love” can let us down. The point of all three is not “Look, here are three qualities I’m developing in myself.” To say that of faith, hope, and love is to perform a self-contradiction. All three, themselves gifts from God, point away from ourselves and outward: faith, toward God and his action in Jesus Christ; hope, toward God’s future; love, toward both God and our neighbor.

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