Essay: The Most Important Question You Can Ask Yourself…

Good personRegardless of social standing, economic status, or educational achievement we all have the same questions that have to be asked and answered within the parameters of Life, Conscience, and Death. So, it is imperative that we have the best information to answer them. The questions are along the line of: “Who am I? Where am I? Why am I? How am I? Is there Life after Death? and Am I a Good Person?” I think the last question is the most important, initially, because within that answer lies the answer to all the other questions.

Are you a Good Person?

Are you by nature a Good Person or a Bad Person?

What I mean to say is, “Do you consider yourself to be a Good Person?

Your answer to this question is going to indicate the foundation of your worldview; the cornerstone of what you believe and why. Every philosophy and religion is rooted in their response to this question. It is the filter in which we consume life and regurgitate thoughts, words, and actions. It is the reason we have become who we are.

It is the line of demarcation for all worldviews and philosophical arguments. (I suggest that you read this to get to some of my previous presuppositional arguments.)

There are millions of differences from one opinion to the next, but only 3 areas of life where we all have equality. In life there are  a myriad of passage ways to travel and form belief systems, but there are only 3 areas where we have true common ground.

  1. Life – If you are reading this then you are among the living. This is a characteristic you share with the rest of the world (collectively as humans). If you aren’t alive then all of this is inconsequential to you.
  2. Conscience – Our moral/ethical compass, innately place inside of us from the beginning of life (Romans 2:14-15). You can disagree with that, and say it is a social convention, but point-in-fact everyone has one. It maybe ignored, but you are aware of it and you have to deal with it. Also, it cannot be proven otherwise; science can only prove things that have mass and the Conscience is a non-physical thing and lacks the mass that is required for the Scientific Method. You can believe that your right and wrong are just construed ethics propagated to meet culture needs, but how did society know they need them, unless they transcended societies via the minds and feelings of people.—more on that in later essays.
  3. Death – We all will die. One of my English Professor at the University of South Carolina said it best, “We are all rocketing towards the grave!” This is truly the most universal aspect of life and the one we most try to overcome, and utterly fail; everyone and everything dies, it is only a question of timing.

Our similarities are limited and concise but the way we flesh out our differences is in how we gather, assimilate, and reason our responses to those areas. It also matters a great deal in what spheres of influences we operate and live.

Most of us have never ripped open our worldview to logical scrutiny and honest dialogue; open minds are usually only open to things they agree with.

That is why we must answer the question of how we see ourselves in terms of “Goodness”. It will ultimately tie all of these areas and sub-questions together. Are you innately (born with a predisposition toward) Good or Evil tendencies? Do you have a propensity for things that are good for you or things that are bad for you?

Even if you say, “I don’t believe in objective morality or goodness?” That answer allows great insight into your worldview and how to approach you in a relational manner. (I hope that others are not so cynical and existential. What a bleak and hopeless existence that would be, if it were true.)

If we look within the frame work of our equalization and allow Life to be our starting point, Death our ending point, and our Conscience as our vehicle to get us there, how many of us make the Good Choices the majority of the time? Or How many of us, if not influenced by other “bad” people, would make the “right” decision, say the “right” words, act the “right” way, and/or think the “right” thoughts every time?

Not Many. (I can hear the “humphs” and retorts/rebuttals starting to crescendo.)

I know that I have yet to define what “Good” is, and that Post-Modernism and relativistic ideologies would say that there is no universal Good or Evil, or absolutes (is that statement true?). I will differ entirely and say that we can not know anything if there are no absolutes. We have to have some universal anchor to tether us to life and existence. If not then we have no basis for knowledge, language or even science.

“Good” is the universal transcendent Nature of God. It transcends intellect, family, culture, science and sentiment. It is objective, absolute, and resolute. It cannot be conjured or elected/adopted by social conventions. It exists in eternity and is itself eternal.

Do we have access to anything that would allow us to know or understand this eternal “Goodness”.

Yes, the 10 Commandments offer us that anchor as a snapshot of the eternal God’s nature. I say nature and not Character because character can be built and modified, nature is innate and cannot be changed. These Commandments are at the core of Christianity.

Christianity offers these Commandments via a personable, intimate, and “Good” God. No other religion speaks of or invoke such a notion of Deity being Universally Invested and Concerned about our lives, so much so that He sent His Son to be penalized for us, to redeem us and adopt us into His family. No other Religion, Lifestyle, or philosophy has a god, deity, or code that compares with this level of Love and Hope. And no other religion gives such a merciful, salvific manner of redemption to our human condition.

Every Religious Dogma or Philosopher speaks of  or to our Human Condition; our uncanny ability to commit “atrocities” and “evils” against one another and ourselves. The acts are often regretted and undesired. We are not “Good”. We are bent. We are born under sin and the Law, and our soul is gnarled and twisted.

That means that no matter how hard we try to preform consistent and eternal “Rightness”, we will ultimately fail. We are all like cars coming off the assembly line with our wheels incorrectly aligned. Now, we will forever veer left or right.

It is mere fantasy for us to even think about being “Good”, in regard to our lives collectively, or that if a few things in our life had gone better we would have been without sin and not need a redeemer.

We are predestined to sin, because of the fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 1-5).

What about our Free Will?

Are we just slaves to sin, to do its bidding? Yes. In John 8:34 it says,

“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”

We do have free will to not commit sins, but we are unable to perform that free will consistently, let alone a lifetime…or an eternity. Any “Right” judgment or ethic we create will come from a “Wrong” place, with “Wrong” motives. (You may have motives of sympathy and empathy but you are limited in your I.Q. and the amount of Knowledge you can digest and reason out, therefore you are extremely limited in the comprehensible knowledge that is with in spatial existence, not even mentioning the knowledge that is outside of spatial time and existence. Meaning that if your desired morality were to be made law or a commandment that they were created with insufficient information and you can not know the ultimate outcome of their implementation…it is more of a blind guess or pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey scenario.) We simply are not equipped to create morality, that is why it is innate in us and why we constantly war with ourselves. Because we cannot control our nature, our corrupt man…our bent soul.

Furthermore, James 2:10 gives us further insight:

“For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s Laws.”

This infers that it only takes one lie to be wholly guilty of offending the whole law. What is the Law?

Jesus said in John 14:15,

“if you love me keep my Commandments (10 Commandments-emphasis mine)”.

Paul says it like this in Romans 7:15-25:

Rom 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. Rom 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Rom 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.
Rom 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
Rom 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
Rom 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (KJV)*

It is vitally important that we judge ourselves “Rightly” and that we use the “Right” measuring units.

We make thousands of judgments a day, these judgments are usually involuntary and voluntary reactions using our worldview as the filter or driving force. Think about a stranger using something as arbitrary as “Risk vs Benefit” algorithm when making judgments about you and your future and/or family. Do you really feel confident that someone who has never met you, or has no first-hand, relational knowledge of you, creating comprehensive moral ethics that will impact and effect every facet of your life?

I know full well that I have the capability to lie to myself and flip-flop on my judgments, I refuse to allow myself to exercise autonomy over my morality parameters. There has to be something else, something more absolute that will be impartial to my inclinations and rationalizations.

If you have ever lied to yourself or bent the Truth to allow yourself to indulge in something contrary to your Conscience/Moral Standards, do you really want to trust yourself with the creation of the parameters of “Goodness”? Or knowing that you lie and have lied to yourself and that others do as well…Would you trust me, your family members, your elected government, your teachers, your friends, and/or complete strangers with formulating an ethical, moral statute for you to abide, exist, and judge under?

Remember Aesop’s the Scorpion and the Frog; our nature is bent with a propensity to do things we don’t want to and not to do the things we ought or want to do.

As you begin to consider your answer to this question I have a test/survey that may help you see your way clear:

The Good Person Test.

[Click here to watch others take the test].

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*Paul says, “I did things that I didn’t want to do, morally and intentionally, and then I didn’t do things that I wanted to do, morally and intentionally…” What he is saying is that his thoughts and intentions were overridden by something other than his rational mind. Here is something to be thinking about: “Can we make choices or perform actions we don’t want to do? and if so why? And if we make those choices without desiring or intending to, who is making the choices? Can your brain make you do something that your mind doesn’t want to do?” 

This brings up the questions of person-hood and who “we” are. We will broach these subjects in upcoming Essay Posts.

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If there are any spelling, syntax, and/or grammar issue please email me at j.wesleymullins@gmail.com , self-editing can lead to minor errors that may distract from the essence and point of the essay, this will help me create a more readable and more poignant blog.

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