Michael W. Austin

Ideas that Matter.

Tag: virtue (page 1 of 4)

Ideas that Matter: Seeking Wisdom for Everyday Life

I became a professional philosopher because I was convinced that ideas matter. I’m more convinced of that now. I’ve always approached any text, thinker, or idea in the hope that I could find some truth or wisdom. I believe that we should welcome truth and wisdom, wherever they can be found.

When I first launched this website and blog back in 2015, my plan was to focus primarily on ideas from a particular Christian philosophical perspective. However, many people associate the term “Christian” with much that is very un-Christian these days. Yet there are many ideas rooted in the historic Christian faith that can be very useful not only for those who are Christians, but others as well. This is true whether one has different religious commitments, or none at all.

There are ideas to be found in many religious and philosophical traditions that are helpful for our growth in moral and intellectual virtue as well as our pursuit of wisdom and happiness, and there is a tradition within Christianity of appropriating such ideas (for instance, see Acts 17 where Paul quotes Cretan philosophers Epimenides and Aratus).

With this in mind, I’m expanding the scope of this blog to include an exploration of such ideas in ways that people will hopefully find to be both interesting and helpful. That’s my hope, at least. If you’re a Christian and read this blog for particularly Christian ideas concerning life and the formation of character, I’ll still write about such themes. But I think you’ll find ideas from other traditions helpful and interesting. They will also help you find common ground with others to have conversations of substance. Here are a few posts to check out:

In that spirit, I welcome any comments and suggestions my readers might have. Feel free to send ideas for topics, thinkers, issues, or any other feedback my way. Let’s try to make some progress in our pursuit of truth, wisdom, and genuine happiness, together.

What is Hope?

5743984911_9f77da98e7_mI’ve often been puzzled by the nature of hope. Many think that hope is one of the central Christian virtues, so my lack of clarity on what hope is has bothered me off and on over the years. Recently, however, I think I’ve started to get a better picture.

When we hope for something, in Christian terms at least, we are not merely wishing for something good, or for better things yet to come. If hope was merely this, it would not count as a virtue. However, hope is a central Christian virtue. So what is it?

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Wealth and Stewardship: Key Biblical Principles

3407402643_7d11d2717f_zIn the most recent issue of the Christian Research Journal, I have an article discussing some of the central biblical teachings concerning stewardship of our financial resources.

I recently was interviewed on CRJ’s Postmodern Realities Podcast about these issues. The content on the podcast is different than, but related to, the article.

I answered such questions as:

  • What are some of the key vices related to wealth? What are some of the key Christian virtues?
  • Who are the rich, biblically speaking? Who are the poor?
  • What are some misconceptions about wealth that Christians should be concerned about?
  • How do our attitudes about money impact our walk with Christ?
  • Is there something more spiritual about poverty?
  • What is the church doing right in this area?

You can listen to the podcast here: http://streaming.integrationworks.com:3000/archive/PMR_EPISODE_005.mp3

Photo: khrawlings, CCL

The Bible and Social Justice

Biblical justice is preoccupied with the needs of those who are poor, weak, disadvantaged, or oppressed (e.g. Deut 24:17; Ps 10:17-18; Isa 10:1-2; Jer 5:28; Luke 4:18-19). Biblical justice is thus less concerned with individual merit or excellence than with individual powerlessness and need. It is focused on aiding those in distress, not on calculating desert. It is more interested in protecting the powerless and enabling everyone to contribute than in identifying what some already contribute. In a biblical context, need and powerlessness are the most basic criteria for the distribution of benefits. It is only after this priority is met that ability and desert can become criteria for justice.”¬† Joseph Kotva, The Christian Case for Virtue Ethics

I just came across this again today. What do you think?

Being Good: The Foundation of Christian Ethics

In some segments of the church it is now routinely suggested that Christianity is not about ethics; rather it is about a relationship with Christ. While we applaud any resistance to reducing Christianity to an ethical system, we are concerned that Christian antipathy toward ethical theory is itself unchristian. Christianity is not merely about ethics, but it does essentially include ethics. The Christian, as a follower of Jesus, should seek to embody the moral and intellectual virtues of Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is our moral and intellectual exemplar.

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