Character is Growth

In my view, the goal of growth is character, and in the Platonic sense of forms, but not aligned with Platonic morality, the form of growth is a positive transformation in flux. The reader may inquire what is positive, and this writer would say that doing the right action even if it does not result in the best outcomes is positive in a deontological sense. Therefore, the views of this writer differ from the Greek form of character in that they support deontology, and they are also that of a born again Christian. N.T. Wright shares insights related to the kind of character that Aristotle believed all should aspire to in life in the form of dedicated behavior transformation. N.T. Wright said, “Sooner or later, you’ll be acting naturally. Second nature. That’s how virtue works” (Wright, 2010, pg. 262). Wright argued that the Christian theory of virtue is, to paraphrase, “to be learned” (pg. 223). Moreover, character in the Christian worldview or belief is the development of the God’s royal priesthood, prophet kings rather than Platonic philosopher kings. Wright’s distinction was between the theological view of character that Christians should aspire to and the prior Greek view of repeated cultivation of strengths.

N.T. Wright asserted that character transforms by a process of steps. Wright argued, “First, you have to aim at the right goal. Second, you have to figure out the steps you need to take to get to that goal. Third, those steps have to become habitual, a matter of second nature” (Wright, 2010, p. 29). Therefore, it is the view of this writer that the goal of character transformation is a consistent process of behavior. This is in agreement with Wright’s view on teleos, the goal of humanity in the world after Christ lived on earth.

In my view, the opposition of this position may be that humanity has the autonomy to decide whatever it wants in a Sartrean form of identities, that humanity is simply the result of behaviors. However, this argument excludes the morality of behavior transformation in favor of the concept of free will. Without morality, behavior alteration can be described as a story foregoing structure in that people may behave in life with certain views about humanity and the world, but this view lacks the understanding of human reason as necessary, though not sufficient to be aware of true duty. Andy Crouch shares this position in relation to cultural behaviors. To paraphrase, Crouch stated, “culture is not finally about us, but about God” (Crouch, 2008, p. 13). Therefore, starting with faith will lead to understanding of objective morals in an Anselmian sense.

During the process of leadership, students ought to consider those who came before as stated in the Biblical Scriptures as the Kouzes and Posner model asserts. An anonymous writer wrote, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” (NIV, Heb: 13:7). Step one of the Kouzes and Posner model consists of “Model the Way” (Kouzes, Posner, 2004, p.38), and my understanding of that begins with the formation of a personal stance that agrees with the shared values of others. In a Christian context, this likely forgoes the corruption of Scripture that those who believe in God should worship other gods, breaking Mosaic law; rather that leaders may share the love of liberty with fellow United States citizens, for example, and can inspire the protection of that very same liberty. While the Christian view is that freedom comes from God, non-Christians can share in the care for liberty in promoting the freedom to have differing views without persecution by the law of the land. As Paul defined, to paraphrase, “for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Rom 13:1). Having that in mind, this writer’s view argues that character relates asymmetrically to the various consistent personal views that an individual person holds. Therefore, who the reader reflects on ultimately describes our own character when views undergo inversion.

While Joseph L. Badaracco Jr. wrote about the flexibility of a personal moral code, he asserted a critical point about receptiveness. The question Badaracco asked was, “Do I Have the Courage to Reconsider?” (Badaracco, 2006, p. 45). By observing Okonkwo, Badaracco defines moral flexibility as the ability to persevere through tumultuous moral dilemmas, reflect on personal failures, respond to ethical surprises, and improve personal conviction. In essence, there may be the thought that it conflicts with the Christian view of the Kouzes and Posner modeling of the way in that Jesus the Christ gave a warning of judgment. The Christ spoke, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Mat 7:1), there may, therefore, be a common view that argues all judgment should cease, but to stop all practice of considering decisions probably contrasts Jesus’ purpose in saying that. A way of interpreting this is that those seeking to learn from others should be willing to allow others to reflect on them correctly. As the Kouzes and Posner model asserts that of the Christian worldview, which considers the Christ as an authority on morality, they probably considered this to a certain extent. Furthermore, Badaracco’s reflection on Okonkwo includes the intention of others reading Badaracco’s views thus he willingly submitted to judgment, himself. Therefore, there should be no tension between the Kouzes and Posner model and Badaracco’s views on moral flexibility.

It follows that there should be flexibility in the reader’s moral code. When speaking of flexibility, this writer views that there should be, in the economic sense, substitutes for consideration with respect to the objective morals of God. For example, when King Solomon heard a dispute between two prostitutes in 1 Kings 3, he considered the substitute for the first female’s argument in the form of the second female’s argument. The lying prostitute had an inflexible moral code in that she willingly accepted the death of her own would-be baby divided by a sword in favor of the argument that she would have any portion of the baby only for herself after demanding to retain a relationship with the baby. This directly contradicts her supposed motherly behavior. Differently, the true mother had a flexible moral code, willing to lose her baby’s guardianship to save her baby’s life. This reflected King Solomon’s true intention thus the mother and baby reunited. In the Biblical context, flexibility in moral code can be the defining trait of a person’s life thus character is a goal in flux.

Bibliography

Badaracco, J. L. (2006). Questions of character: Illuminating the heart of leadership through literature. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Crouch, A. (2008). Culture making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books.

Kouzes, J. M., Posner, B. Z., & Kouzes, J. M. (2004). Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Wright, N. T. (2010). After you believe: Why Christian Character Matters. New York, NY: HarperOne.

 

Reflections of Previous Semesters, and Thoughts on Moving Forward

Since January to August, my course schedule has been steady every week except for a couple times when there was a week break during or after the semesters, and more is here. During the Spring and Summer 2016 semesters at Regent University, I experienced an introduction to 8-week accelerated courses. They were very challenging with a promise of gaining knowledge of how I may approach various fields with Biblical thinking. In-depth studies of Christian theology was the start of my journey at Regent after transferring from a local public college. It was the first time that I had ever sat down and read the works of leaders of Christian thought throughout history from St. Anselm to Thomas Aquinas about arguments for the existence of God, and to topics such as friendship, art, and marriage from Biblically-based perspectives both from centuries in the past to our contemporaries such as Aelred of Rievaulx, St. Augustine of Hippo, and Richard J. Foster. I learned the significance of the superior quality of Biblical prophecy with research into Jesus the Christ’s life on earth. Old Testament studies further built on these understandings.

After that, I faced testing with the understanding of this Biblical foundation in the form of applied dialogues in every course from Microeconomics to Introduction to Programming, and from Making of the Christian Leader to Operating Systems. Each course required rapid integration of faith with the study of reason. With these completed, I became accustomed to this eight-week format.

After a business week and a couple weekends for a break between semesters, Fall classes began, this Monday, the 22nd. Interestingly, I enrolled in a Calculus III course for my program that is fifteen weeks in duration. I say so because the study time was estimated for about the same amount of time as the eight-week courses; there is the same study challenge as an eight-week course, but that duration is doubled. Calculus being the study of infinity is a relevant topic for the integration of the Biblical Scriptures. As one of the Psalmists wrote, “But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children” (NIV, Ps 103:17). According to Andrew E. Hill and John H. Walton, the relevance of this chapter is related to the agenda of the editor of the Psalms. About what its purpose is, Hill and Walton said, “Critical discussion of God’s forgiving the sins of the nation” (Hill & Walton, 2009, p. 429). The Psalms verse and Hill and Walton stated that God Almighty grants his servants blessings of mercy that are collectively grace. This may be interpreted as the privilege of understanding His justice and infinite wisdom, though that does not mean God, himself, is understood beyond his character. Even when Immanuel walked the earth, God the Father reigned in heaven thus his character is known in the flesh, but his infinite Spirit is not fully known. I think that this may apply to Calculus III well as the concept of infinity may be known, but true infinity is not. It is an appealing dichotomy that may be studied for the purpose of growing in true faith for we all assume something as the basis for our worldviews. While this truth about humanity persists, the study of conceptual theory should continue in my view. Having said that, I have more courses this semester.

In general, my other courses are computer science topics, and they are Database Fundamentals, Ethics for Computer Science, and Distributed and Parallel Programming. Each of these eight-week courses required for my major are what interest me. In particular, the research that may equip me with a purpose-driven education is appealing, and I believe that this is the right path for me. Having said that, as these three eight-week courses are accelerated, I chose them two at a time at most. Towards the halfway completed date of the Fall semester, Database Fundamentals has completion as part of its scheduling whereas the remaining two have the beginning of their scheduled coursework for students. While this is work for me, I believe that any truths that I learn from these courses come from God, so I receive blessings then He receives glory. Therefore, my goal in this study consists of working for God Almighty.

Bibliography

Hill, A. E., & Walton, J. H. (2009). A Survey of the Old Testament (3rd ed.). Grand Rapids, MI, MI: Zondervan Pub. House.