Can It Be Reasonable or Rational that Right Actions Are not Good Enough for Relationship with God?
A basic and central tenet of Christianity is that while right actions earn good rewards from God, they inherently are insufficient for building of relationship with God.
On the face of things, this seems a somewhat outlandish claim. But is it possible to reason out this seemingly outlandish claim?
Could it possibly be reasonable or rational that right actions may not be the right currency for procuring of relationship with God, for procuring of an intimate relationship with God?
If relationship with God were of no real consequence for mindfulness, perhaps we should not care, perhaps no one should care. The evidence from history indicates, however, that people typically find the deepest most meaningful inner peace, joy, and tranquility in context of some connection with God. All of the great Greek philosophers, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Seneca etc. ranked ‘religio’ — the search for meaning in God — to be a high science; that is, were of the opinion that knowledge of God is essential for maximizing of well being.
If spiritual quality of peace and joy are magnified whenever men or women have opportunity for developing of relationship with God, absence of partiality from God implies the playing field ought to be level, implies everyone ought reasonably to have opportunity for arrival at relationship with God.
In presence of claim of Christian tenets that God is impartial, that God welcomes everyone who seeks relationship His way, exclusion of right actions as currency for relationship ought to be in realm of reasonableness and rationality. If exclusion of right actions as appropriate currency can be shown to be unreasonable, no one in their right mind should seek relationship with God the Christian way.
If right actions are not sufficient for procuring of relationship with God, there must be something that rationally and reasonably is better, more appropriate.
Suppose two men enter into a business transaction within which one borrows today and contracts to repay borrowings with US$1 Billion in Gold within space of one year. Within this context, gold as store of value is explicitly stated in the contract.
On maturity date of the contract, the borrower shows up with US$1 Billion, but the US$1 Billion is offered in store of silver or bronze, not gold.
Any good contract lawyer immediately recognizes and asserts that there is breach of contract.
Assertion of breach of contract of course is true. But then again, while it is true that there is breach of contract, the question is, does the breach matter in real terms? Can it be demonstrated that the breach embeds any adverse material implications for value received by the lender under the contract?
Well then, let us talk in real terms
First, gold holds it’s value better than either of silver or bronze. US$1 Billion in gold today has higher probability of being worth at least US$1 Billion 10 years from now than either of silver or bronze.
For a similar analogy, suppose stocks are ranked from Quality A through C, with A being ‘highest’ quality, and C ‘lowest’ quality.
Again, we have that US$1 Billion has a greater chance of being worth at least US$1 Billion in future if it is granted in shares of Stocks that have Quality A, as opposed to Stocks that have Quality B or C.
Second, gold has more uses than silver, typically is more attractive than silver, is more appreciated than silver.
If the lender were to give a friend US$0.50 Million in gold, it would be appreciated more than US$0.50 Million in silver. This difference is essence of ordering of awards of gold, silver, and bronze in sports competitions.
Attractiveness of gold is related to it’s higher tensile strength. Relative to either of silver or bronze, gold is more malleable, more likely to retain it’s quality or luster in response to battering of tools, weather, or the refiner’s fire.
Third, the argument that the gold can be converted to dollars today, with outcome that the inherent value of US$1 Billion is secured can be shown not to be as water tight as it sounds. The central problem?
For investment purposes, cash is not a good store of value.
Now, imagine having to pour US$1 Billion into securities or asset markets at a particular point in time in one day, with goal of securing a good investment, with goal of retaining US$1 Billion in value.
The first and immediate problem? The amount of money chasing good investments can, in presence of excess supplies of money at any one time, induce decreases to returns that are realizable from investments. The mere act of pushing US$1 Billion worth of silver or bronze into the market for conversion to currency, then conversion to new assets within the space of a few minutes in one day inherently can dilute returns to such a strategy. The lender as such may not end up with US$1 Billion in gold or alternate assets.
Add transaction costs for conversion to cash, then conversion to new assets, and the lender definitely does not end up with a US$1 Billion increase to net worth. No matter how good the outcome is, incurring of transaction costs ensures value received from conversion of the silver or bronze definitely will be less than US$1 Billion. If the borrower offers to pay transaction costs for conversion to gold? Well then, they satisfy the contract, prove US$1 Billion in silver or bronze does not possess the same inherent value as US$1 Billion in gold.
The Second Related Problem? Gold already is a good investment, an asset whose value tends to appreciate over time, a good hedge against inflation. Given the borrower did take US$1 Billion in cash to the commodity exchange and could have obtained US$1 Billion in gold, why exactly did they buy silver or bronze, as opposed to gold as agreed under the contract? An ‘in your face’ contract violation suggests there is more to things than meets the eye. Perhaps the silver or bronze is fake?
The Third Related Problem? If all alternate investments available in that small window of time only can yield no more than 10%, and gold is predicted to yield 12% but is not available, investment in alternate assets induces an opportunity loss, ensures inherent value amounts to less than US$ 1 Billion.
Juxtaposed in context of ‘inherent value’, what would be referred to as ‘future value’ in finance, US$1 Billion in either of silver or bronze is worth less than US$1 Billion in gold. This is the reason silver and bronze typically are bought for production purposes, are not considered stores of value.
We conclude then that the contract breach is material in it’s consequences.
Now consider application of differences in inherent value of gold, silver, and bronze to man’s relationship with God.
Based on Christian tenets, God says man’s love quality has deteriorated, no longer possesses the same intrinsic value as His love quality.
In context of the preceding analogy, man’s love quality (right actions) possesses quality of either of silver or bronze, or stocks ranked as having B or C Quality. God’s love (God’s inherent goodness, which of necessity produces actions of highest quality, that is, actions with highest possible purity of motives) possesses quality of gold, or stocks ranked as having A Quality.
In presence of differences in quality, while mankind’s right actions have value, the value always is worth less than what is owed. Whenever mankind produces right actions then, regardless of notional value of US$1 Billion, inherent value to God always turns out less than US$1 Billion.
Is it possible then to rationalize the claim of Christian tenet that relationship with God commences with acceptance of God’s claim that only He can make up deficiencies of quality inherent in right actions?
Absolutely. If we offer Quality B or C, and our debt of love to fellow men or women requires actions of Quality A in order for God to be impressed, absent making up for our deficiency, while God rewards right actions, right actions lack inherent capacity for triggering of relationship with God. By the same token, offer of right actions that have quality of silver or bronze never can make up for expectations of gold quality from God. Given the gold God demands is in context of our relationship with other men and women, clearly the demand for gold does not derive from hubris on God’s part. Quite the contrary, it derives from love for all of mankind.
If God demands love quality of gold from you to others, simultaneously, He demands love quality of gold from others in their interactions with you. The demand for gold benefits you directly, stems from God’s love for all of mankind, as opposed to some self gratifying hubris.
Within context of Christian tenets, Jesus and His grace are God’s mechanisms for making up of deficiency inherent in ‘inherent value’ of right actions by mankind.
What then is
essence of Jesus and His grace?
Well, whenever a person does good to others, but motives are not as pure as they possibly and conceivably could be, in presence of the grace of Jesus Christ, such a person receives credit from God as if their motives were as pure as God’s motives.
Such a person receives not only material rewards from God in sense of opportunities for, and capacity for prosperity, but also receives capacity for spirituality, capacity for attainment to inner peace, joy, tranquility.
Based on Christian tenets, the distinguishing feature of God is capacity for enabling believers attain to inner peace, joy, and tranquility. But then again, these exactly are qualities of life money cannot buy.
Regardless whether you agree or disagree with the Christian tenet that quality of man’s actions no longer approximates quality desired by God, the foregoing demonstrates it is possible for the same action, the same notional value in currency to be characterized as possessing of differences in quality, differences in inherent value or worth.
The kicker? Much as is the case with investments, or orderings of quality, and as held in Christian tenets, grace focuses on value to be reaped in future, not on the past. Grace makes up for the past, enables building of relationship with God in the present and future.
So then, the notion that right actions can have value that is inferior to God’s desires or demands lies in realm of rationality and reasonableness. The remedy proferred by God in context of Christian tenets? Impartial, appropriate, having real consequences, and available to everyone. We conclude then that to seek relationship with God the Christian way is rational, reasonable.