posted on August 27, 2013 06:40
Within the individualistic thread, just getting a good education is not enough. It also matters as to the contents of the education. Clement saw that both faith and reason were necessary in achieving our purpose of becoming good. This view laid the foundation for much of the later theological/philosophical thoughts of the early Church fathers. There are two levels within individualism. We touched on both previously. The first is at the individual level and is the act of fulfilling our purpose by becoming good. This requires a good education as we are not born with virtues; we are, however, adapted to learn them. The second level is as a people. We are called to be a people, and being a people requires virtue in order for justice to exist. The exercise of reason and faith require individual choice – free will. Freedom. Coercion by the state directly conflicts with the achievement of our purpose and therefore our ability to be a people.
These thoughts are echoed in the words of our Founding Fathers. In the Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom, Jefferson said the following, ‘Well aware that Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burdens, or by civil incapacitations . . . are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do.’ He further stated in his Notes on the State of Virginia, ‘But our rulers can have authority over such natural rights only as we have submitted to them. The rights of conscience we never submitted, we could not submit. We are answerable for them to our God. The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.’ If man was destined to live in coercion under the state, our Creator could have easily set things up that way, but He did not. It was his purpose for us that we have, and use, the mind, reason, and free will that He gifted each one of us with.
In addressing the continuance of political prosperity, Washington stated the following in his farewell address, ‘Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?’
I believe that the relationship between reason, faith, virtue, morality, and justice can be illustrated as in the diagram below.
Reason and faith provide the basis for virtue and morality. The four together support justice, with provides the foundation for any society. Some, like Locke and George Mason, argued that reason alone was sufficient to produce virtue and morality. While it may be possible, I would suggest that this greatly weakens the structure, because without faith society becomes centered on man. History has shown this never works in the long-run, and Augustine chronicled Rome’s fall in his work ‘The City of God’. Both reason and faith must be present. These supports provide for the development of virtue and morality, as shown by the arrows above. It is only when all four pillars are present that the table of justice can exist, and serve as a foundation for creating a people – and society. Place coercions upon a people in any one of these four areas, and you will eventually destroy the foundations of a society.