Monday, March 06, 2017

Orthopraxy and Erasmus

For Erasmus, the philosophy of Christ is found “not in ceremonies alone and syllogistic propositions but in the heart itself and in the whole life.” “In this kind of philosophy,” he writes, “life means more than debate, … transformation is a more important matter than intellectual comprehension.” Although Erasmus never compromises on doctrinal essentials, he consistently laments doctrine’s overshadowing of Christian morality: “You will not be damned if you do not know whether the Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son has a single or a double principle, but you will not escape perdition unless you see to it in the mean time that you have the fruits of the Spirit, which are charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, faith, moderation, self-control, and chastity.” Much of Erasmus’s criticism of the scholastics drives from their preference for theological dexterity over piety. More important than scholastics subtleties, Erasmus argues, is a “pure and simple life.”—Humanism and the Rhetoric of Toleration, page 52–53

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