Monday, 18 February 2008

More on Bishop Hilarion Alfayev....

...Can be found on the Nova et Vetera blog of the excellent Fr Justin
[while there have a look at the Latin Wikipedia - having only done a year's school latin most of it is double-dutch to me but it is sooooooo kewl !!!]

In the meantime here is some more from the bishop [don't you wish he was one of ours ?] [please nobody ask what he did with the aspidistra in order to wear the hat]

What do we mean by ‘Christian values’ and how do they differ from the so-called ‘common human values’ that form the basis of secular humanism? First of all, as I noted in the beginning of my lecture, the Christian system of values is theocentric and christocentric. Christianity confirms that its supreme and absolute value, its central criterion of truth, is the one God who has revealed himself to the world in Jesus Christ. For Christians, it is God who is regarded as the source of legal and social norms, and Christ’s commandments constitute an immutable moral law.

By comparison, secular humanism is anthropocentric, since it regards human person as the ‘measure of all things’, as the absolute value and yardstick of truth. Christianity proceeds from the idea that human nature, damaged by sin, requires correction, redemption and deification. This is why the Church ‘cannot favour a world order that puts in the centre of everything the human personality darkened by sin’.
Humanism, however, negates the very idea of sin. For it, like for ancient Greek sophistry, nothing is exclusively good or bad, virtuous or sinful: what is sin for one person can be virtue for another, and vice versa. The freedom of an individual is regarded as a universal value, and the only things that limit an individual’s freedom are legal norms that protect the liberty of other individuals.

Using the expressions ‘Christian’ and ‘common human’ values, I am aware of their questionability and vulnerability. Can one reasonably refer to common human values when each civilization, culture and people has standards which do not always coincide with those of others? Can one speak of Christian values when a significant number of modern Protestant communities are undermining the very foundations of Christian dogma and moral doctrine, modifying and bringing them into line with the norms of ‘political correctness’? This is why it might be more appropriate to describe the current ambivalence as an antithesis of ‘traditional’ to ‘liberal’ values. Carrying the generalization even further, we could speak of a conflict between faith and disbelief, a fundamental discrepancy between the religious world view and the norms of secular humanism.

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