Been away since Monday, in Washington (Sussex, UK) on team days with the UCCF South West & South East Teams. We looked at "The Happiness of Jesus Christ" with Jim Paul from L'Abri. See full post for photos and reflections...
*** Home now to celebrate three years of marriage! Hurray! ***
We considered the ethics of Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham and of Jesus Christ. How did they determine what was good? And what is the role of happiness within that?
Aristotle considered things that we pursue for their own sake to be good. So, we pursue medicine for the sake of health. Health then is greater than medicine. But we pursue happiness for its own sake so it is a greater good.
Kant inflicted society and the church with a stoic duty. Cold rationalism, acts of goodness devoid of passion and happiness. All that counted was duty. This remains prevalent today. Thankfully the likes of John Piper are doing much to counter this as they call for a passionate joyful church, acting out of delight more than duty.
Bentham was a contemporary of Kant but argued differently. He looked for good being what is best for most people. For him happiness and pleasure were the same. And the goal was always to maximise pleasure and minimise pain. This is a very self-referential way of thinking. It just doesn't work in practice.
Finally, we turned to the happiness of Jesus Christ. From the beginning God has looked for mankind to live under his blessing - to be flourishing, happy, celebrated. And God invites humanity into rest with him - into a state of flourishing in relationship with him. Sin is the enemy of happiness - it brings curse rather than favour. But to those who come to Jesus there is rest - a forever happiness in intimate relationship with the ultimate One. In this not only are we happy, so is God.
Also, during our time together we were able to pray, giving thanks for another year of God's faithfulness. To say goodbye to this years Relay, and to staff member David Skull who are leaving us after four years to study at Oak Hill College. As a South East team our Relay gaves us feedback from their elective studies. Between the three of them they'd covered Postmodernism/Studying Art, Polish Language, and Christian Hedonism. Varied and fascinating.
The end of the year is an encouraging and sad time. Many goodbyes. Many thanks. Many joys. Many sorrows. But one thing remains the same - the happy one, Jesus Christ, is the same yesterday, today and forever.