Moral Theology. Chapter 10
A Christian’s care for his soul. The development of the Mind. The meaning of secular scientific education. The necessity of spiritual education.
Psychology acknowledges three main forces or abilities in a person’s soul: the Mind, the Emotions, the Heart, and the Will. Man perceives the surrounding world, his life, and all the conscious experiences of his own soul with his Mind. Man reacts to the influence and impressions from the external world on his own experiences with his Emotions, the Heart.
Some of these experiences are pleasant, he likes them; others are unpleasant, and he dislikes them. The “pleasantness” and “unpleasantness” of people’s likes and dislikes does not coincide. What one person likes, another does not always like, and vice versa. (A proverb: “One does not argue about taste.”) Thirdly, a person’s Will is that force within his soul through which he enters and acts in the world. The moral character of man is largely dependent upon the character and direction of his Will.
Returning to the question of the development of a spiritual personality, we need to note that in our work with ourselves, with our “I”, a person has to develop in a proper, Christian fashion the Mind, Heart, and Will, all faculties of his soul.
The Mind develops first of all and mainly through studying the sciences, through “Education is the most sacred of all sacred works.”The saint was often asked, “How should a child be properly raised? How can we instill basic moral concepts in his soul?” He would give this advice: “Love your children, and they will love you.” But at the same, time this love must always be joined with reasonable strictness: “Dissolve strictness of authority with meekness, try to earn love with love; true goodness is also not foreign to a strict word.”
“>education. One should not think that Christianity considers “secular” studies or education unnecessary or even harmful.
The entire history of the ancient Church speaks against this mistaken view. It is sufficient to look at three great, universal teachers and saints, St. Basil the GreatHierarch Basil the Great is one of the Church’s most remarkable theologians. His influence on the fortunes of the Church spread far beyond the borders of his homeland and is still felt in our days.
“>Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Theologian the Archbishop of ConstantinopleSaint Gregory the Theologian, Archbishop of Constantinople, a great Father and teacher of the Church, was born into a Christian family of eminent lineage in the year 329, at Arianzos.”>St. Gregory the Divine, and The Life of Saint John ChrysostomThe treasure of treatises and letters which St. John left behind, included the moving sermon that is heard at Easter Sunday services. The loss of his sermons which were not set down on paper is incalculable. Nevertheless, the immense store of his excellent literature reveals his insight, straightforwardness, and rhetorical splendour, and commands a position of the greatest respect and influence in Christian thought, rivaling that of other Fathers of the Church. His liturgy, which we respectfully chant on Sundays, is a living testimony of his greatness.”>St. John Chrysostom. They were the most educated people of their times, having made an excellent study of contemporary purely secular science. Although this science wore a definite pagan taint, they were able to assimilate the necessary and useful elements and discard the unneeded, and unhealthy.
So much more must we treasure secular scientific education now that past pagan admixtures have disappeared, and science strives towards the demonstration of pure truth. It is true that even today, scholars mistakenly assume that science contradicts religion and add their anti-religious views to scientific truths. But pure science is not guilty of this. Christianity has always welcomed and blessed serious secular education where mental acuity and ability is formed and strengthened.
A Christian, receiving a secular education, gives greater meaning to religious education and upbringing. We need to remember that Christianity is not the exclusive sphere of religious experiences and feelings. No, Christianity is an absolutely, complete cycle, a system of congruous knowledge, the most varied given facts, related not only to religion but also to the sciences. How can we Christians not know the life of our Savior and His miracles and teachings? How, further, can we not know the history of our holy Church, the divine services which we should know and understand and therefore study?
Christianity, as a manifold, complete scientific; system, appears as such in high school courses of Christian morality and in teachings of our faith. Christianity arises before us as the richest philosophical system, encompassing and explaining the entire world and man to himself, indicating the true meaning and goal of his earthly life.
We must also remember that when, a person receives full knowledge of God’s truth through the study of religion, he should, perceiving this truth, serve it and listen to its voice. Christ Himself said that “who is not with Me is against Me…” And in relation to Him and His Holy Will and Law, indifference, coldness, and unfulfillment of this law are destructive for the soul, making man an enemy of Christ and His Truth. That is why we should never forget His words, “Why do you call Me: Lord, Lord – and do not do what I say?” Similarly, His Apostle said, “For not the hearers of the law are Just before God, but the doers of the Law shall be Justified” (Romans 2:13).
Source: Orthodox Christianity