Tuesday, December 15, 2009


γὰρ εὐδαιμονία κάλλιστον καὶ ἄριστον πάντων οὖσα ἥδιστον ἐστίν.

Happiness is at once the pleasantest and the fairest and best of all things whatever.
Aristotle, Eud. Eth. 1.1214a

On my way home today, I listened to a bit of N.T. Wright's lecture at Fuller Seminary earlier this year, and I have to say, so far, very good. He talks somewhat about Aristotelian perspective on 'happiness' (εὐδαιμονία) and proper biblical understanding of ethics toward attaining real 'happiness.' He does a good job of attacking the postmodern worldview that has placed such a high value on 'authenticity out of spontaneity' while simultaneously disparaging any real moral efforts. He also talked about the US Airways Flight 1549 and how what has been deemed a "miracle" by the public is also likely the product of careful training and experience of the pilots themselves. Some nuggets of wisdom from the good Bishop:

Our culture prefers effortless spontaneity with occasional divine intervention in emergencies, rather than working with God on developing the muscles which will meet those emergencies with a God-given second nature which appears spontaneous, but is in fact the result of thinking and choosing and practicing.

...the very mention of 'virtue' will make many Christians stiffen in alarm. They have been rightly taught that we are not justified by our works but by our faith. They know that they are powerless to make themselves conform to any higher and lofty moral code, the Ten Commandments, Aristotle, whatever. They've tried it, didn't work, made them feel guilty. Then they discovered that God accepted them as they are, "While we were yet sinners," Paul declares, "Christ dies for us." Whew! So why bother with all this morality? And in particular isn't 'virtue' a way specifically of talking about a self-help sort of moralism?...
(He's being sarcastic here...)

Wright goes on to talk about the proper place of right biblical eschatology in ethics. Obviously, there's much more to this lecture and I think this is probably an adaptation of his research that culminated in two books I'm looking forward to reading in the future: Surprised by Hope and The Resurrection of the Son of God. If you get a chance, do listen to the lecture! I mean, he's a great scholar but that British accent just makes it sound even better...


Janice said...

ooo la la! please share with me :)

Mike S. said...

Janice: Link sent!