PAPER NO. 51
COMMON GROUND – PART II
Integrity is a concern for consistency, both logical and existential.
Man is a natural unity; we should act according to our nature and not be divided.
We are more or less conscious and consistent in our basic beliefs. We should be more conscious and consistent. We should have integrity, through self-examination.
- All persons implicitly profess to seek to know. If we had integrity we would seek and understand what is clear. If we cannot show what is clear then we do not know what is clear. Therefore, we lack integrity.
We make our most explicit commitments through vows. If we had integrity we would keep our vows. We often come short in keeping our vows. Therefore, we often lack integrity.
- If our thoughts are not logically consistent at the basic level then they are incoherent and absurd; we cannot think what is absurd.
If our lives are not existentially consistent with basic things we profess then our lives are self-referentially absurd; we cannot live what is absurd.
- Integrity is necessary and sufficient for knowledge of basic things. One has to neglect, avoid, resist and deny reason to avoid what is clear about God.
To place the psychological and the practical above, apart from or against the rational concern for truth is to first dehumanize oneself and, in turn, others. The unexamined life is less than human life. It is a disintegration downward toward the anti-human.
Examples: Man that is in honor without understanding is like the beasts that perish (Psalm 49). Man does not live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4). The birds of the air have nests, but not the Son of man (Matthew 8:20). My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it (Luke 8:21). Denial of reason can descend to the Luciferian level.
Truth is not reducible to beauty (Keats), or to power (Pilate), or to comfort (traditionalism) or to anything else.
- Lack of integrity is hypocrisy, which requires self-deception and self-justification (the third degree of moral evil).
Suffering under natural evil (the curse of toil and strife and old age, sickness and death) is necessary to restrain, recall from and remove moral evil, in every degree.
- Clarity increases with integrity. Stupor increases with hypocrisy.
The Church’s doors are open to repentant sinners, but not to hypocrites.
Repentance must begin with the root sin of not seeking and understanding what is clear about God and man and good and evil.
Lack of Church discipline to prevent hypocrisy destroys the Church.
- Lack of integrity (hypocrisy) is inexcusable; it is to take God’s name (his self-revelation) in vain (Matthew 23; Exodus 20:7).
Disregard of what is clear is not held guiltless; the foolish heart becomes further darkened. From the one who has not will be taken what he has.
- Discipline is necessary for integrity, to seek first the kingdom of God.
The Church is for worship and discipleship; it is the pillar and ground of the Truth. It is the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-14).
The Church is to make disciples of all nations, to worship God in spirit and in truth.
The Logos, the eternal word of God is Truth in its fullness. We are sanctified through knowing the Truth. God’s Word is Truth (John 1:1-18; 17:17).
- Discipleship brings us to know and to practice the truth.
“If you continue in my word then you are my disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
Discipleship requires us to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
Discipline requires us to take time out to stop and think: first by self-restraint; then, when necessary, by restraint through church oversight; and always, by the restraint through suffering under the curse of natural evil.