Richard Rohr on A Consistent Ethic of Life

In recent elections one would have thought that homosexuality and abortion were the new litmus tests of Christianity. Where did this come from? They never were the criteria of proper membership for the first 2000 years, but reflect very recent culture wars instead! And largely from people who think of themselves as “traditionalists”! The fundamentals were already resolved in the early Apostles’ Creed and Nicene Creed. Note that none of the core beliefs are about morality at all. The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute.

Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called “The Three Ps,” or power, prestige, and possessions, which are probably 95% of his written teaching. We conveniently ignore this 95% to concentrate on a morality that usually has to do with human embodiment. That’s where people get righteous, judgemental, and upset, for some reason. The body seems to be where we carry our sense of shame and inferiority, and early-stage religion has never gotten much beyond these “pelvic” issues. As Jesus put it, “You ignore the weightier matters of the law—justice, mercy, and good faith. . . . [And instead] you strain out gnats and swallow camels” (Matthew 23:23-24). We worry about what people are doing in bed much more than making sure everybody has a bed to begin with. There certainly is a need for a life-giving sexual morality, but one could question whether Christian nations have found it yet.

Christianity will regain its moral authority when it starts emphasizing social sin in equal measure with individual (read “body-based”) sin and weave them both into a seamless garment of love and truth.

Adapted from Spiral of Violence: The World, the Flesh, and the Devil
(CD, DVD, MP3)

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Author: DanutM

Anglican theologian. Former Director for Faith and Development Middle East and Eastern Europe Region of World Vision International

10 thoughts on “Richard Rohr on A Consistent Ethic of Life”

  1. @”The Creeds are more mystical, cosmological, and about aligning our lives inside of a huge sacred story. When you lose the mystical level, you always become moralistic as a cheap substitute.” -excelent si absolut de-acord. Nu m-am gindit la asta, spre rusinea mea.
    … Pacat ca nici autorul nu ramine la nivel mistic ci trece tot la ieftine subtitute morale: “Jesus is clearly much more concerned about issues of pride, injustice, hypocrisy, blindness, and what I have often called “The Three Ps,”…Why wouldn’t he be more at the mystical cosmological level?
    Da, din pacate ne alegem selectiv din Scriptura ce credem.
    Nu exista -bunoara- chestie mai socanta in Scriptura decit ca cine face pe un copil sa pacatuiasca, ar fi mai bine sa i se lege o piatra de moara… Ce altceva este educarea obbligatorie in gay stuff din gradinitele din California? Mai sus e pezentata o poza de la demontratie pro-life (un act de dreptate pt fat!)… putea fi pusa una de la demonstratiile contra global warming… oricum alegem.
    Dar vorba Mintuitorului: pe astea sa le faceti si pe celelalte sa nu le lasati nefacute…
    Nu cred ca conteaza ce cred eu. Totusi, cred ca daca suntme bine la nivel “mystical, cosmological, and [align] our lives inside of a huge sacred story” nu cadem nici in celelalte pacate fie ele ale trupului, fie sociale. Din pacate problema e la nivel mistic…


    1. Mmmda … cam asa mi se pare si mie.

      Probabil ati pierdut ocazia sa cititi discutia si postul precendent cu privire la (acest asa-numit eretic) Richard Rohr:

      “Richard Rohr on Diversionary Tactics in the Contemporary Church”

      si linkurile de la “FIghting for the Faith” unde invataturile lui Richard Rohr cu privire la ‘Hristosul Cosmic’ si ‘Evolutionary Christianity’ sunt expuse si analizate:


      1. Draga Gabriel,
        Nu stiu ce sa spun. Am ascultat in sfirsit pe tipul asta cu Fighting for the Faith Radio (cred ca puteam face ceva mai bun cu timpul meu) si mi se pare ca tipul nu-i prea sanatos la cap. Pe linga faptul ca este ignorant si arogant.
        Imi pare rau, dar n-am rabdare pentru asemenea idiotii agresive americanesti.


      2. sorry to hear you wasted your time Danut. Chris Rosenbourgh podcasts are a bit long (2 hrs), and he does come across a bit negative and critical (although he has good sermons to review also). I just started listening a week ago (but am getting more short on time). Don’t know how you got the “tipul nu-i prea sanatos la cap” impression … but it is an expression I hear many Roumanians use. I am not sure he is an idiot (MBA, and studies the biblical languages) but yeah, he comes across as very american 🙂 and a bit agressive.


      3. By this phrase I mean not that the guy is a fool, but the he sounds like an aggressive fanatic to me. I try to stay away from those guys. Suicide bombers are made of this kind of stuff.


      4. thaks for the explanation. I am not sure I want to call any “brother or sister” a fool … but to each his own. I am not sure if this guy I would call fanatic … he definitely is dogmatic. Aggressive … can be a label used to St. Paul also for His fight to pass on the teachings received from Christ and against his competition (2 Thes 2:15).


      5. We are different, indeed, Gabriel. I would not describe St. Paul as aggressive, but this guy is.
        Also, I do not take for granted that everybody who pretends to be a Christian really is that. I let God decide on this.


    2. Domnule Doru Radu, observ in mod intrigat ca ati trecut cu vederea un fapt absolut semnificativ. Ilustratia nu pledeaza pentru viata doar in sensul ‘dinainte de nastere’, preferat de aparatorii fundamentalisti ai vietii, care va sunt asa de simpoatici,
      Cei care demonstreaza cred in viata in intregul ei: viata intre conceptie si nastere, dar si in viata dupa nastere, subiect, din pacate, absolut neimportant pentru fundamentalistii si neoconservatorii dvs.
      Dumnezeu cu mila!


      1. Cu siguranta ca avem ce invata de la cei ce ne critica.
        Mi s-a parut insa ciudat ca autorul insusi n-a ramas la limitele credeului ci a luat-o in plan moralist.


      2. Cred ca faceti confuzie intre etica si eticism. Evident, exista o diferenta esentiale intre ele. Ceea ce autyorul acuza este eticismul, ceea ce el face este etica, si aceasta nu poatre fi separata de etica, fara a crea un mostru religios. Sunt sigur ca cu aceasta sunteti pe deplic de acord.


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