Do You Agree? Morality Vs. Reality

I came across this paragraph recently and found myself continually re-reading,ittrying to figure out if I agreed with it or not. Do you agree or disagree?:

"Very often, a commitment in faith is wrongly idenitified with morality--rather than a stance toward reality that begins the process of setting everything else in order. And so the sayings of Jesus are wrenched out of context and made, by preachers, to serve moral matters: sin versus virtue becomes the touchstone of a life well lived, and in the process there is often a failure in translating the spirit of the sayings of Jesus."

D. Spoto, The Hidden Jesus: A New Life (New York, NY: St. Martin's Griffin, 1998), 151.


  1. I don't know Spotto, but I see what you mean. Of course morality can be godless and often is. We know Peter said add virtue on top of faith; Paul and even James would agree. But which preachers is he talking about? Unitarians? Or maybe people who believe in "Q"? ;)

  2. Bill,
    He's talking about your run-of-the-mill preacher, the kind who, in every single sermon, simply moralizes his audiences. I think you find those types of people in every denomination and probably (and sadly) most of the time. Nice sucker-punch to Q there by the way!

  3. He states in a nutshell what I've been wrestling with for some time now.

    The phrase "a life well-lived" implies that virtue is something we could accomplish by our own efforts rather than through surrendering to the power of the Holy Spirit. OTOH there needs to be some exercise of will on our part...there's the rub.

    "The process of setting everything else in order" implies that he thinks we should take a more holistic view of grace/God's reconciliation with creation/kingdom living than to just keep score of how "virtuous" our behavior is. I could agree with that.


  4. Thanks for the clarification, Michael. One last observation - behavior is easier to focus on for preachers and believers alike because it's tangible. The word "Psychology" means "soul study" and yet it's officially defined as the study of behavior. Behavior can be observed and measured. And preached on.

    But how much more difficult is it to talk about inner things, invisible things and spiritual things? Things like "spirit" and "Faith"? :)