A Question Of Authority         The Most Read Book Of All

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A QUESTION OF AUTHORITY The most read book of all time: the Bible. The most read teachers from within the Bible: Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul. The subject and reason behind all of the Apostle Paul's writings: Jesus Christ. The most influential teacher whose life most closely preceded Jesus' life: Aristotle. Both Jesus and Aristotle spent their efforts trying to teach one how to think, and consequently how one ought to live. Aristotle, Jesus, and Paul also have interesting opinions on where the control lies in ones' actions, and consequently where the control lies for the outcomes of these actions. How are the teachings of Aristotle, Jesus, and the Apostle Paul related? Do Jesus and Paul, since they follow Aristotle, support and expand on Aristotle's teachings? Or rather, do Jesus and Paul contradict, overrule if you will, Aristotle's teachings? First, let us examine how Aristotle, Paul, and Jesus advise us to live our lives, and how their philosophies differ. Aristotle tells us, "Since, therefore, it is hard to hit the intermediate extremely accurately, the second-best tack, as they say, is to take the lesser of the evils. We shall succeed best in this by the method we describe" (1109a, 33-36). Aristotle is persuading us to "settle" merely because "it is hard to hit the intermediate extremely accurately." Well, let us look and see what Jesus teaches us about this: "But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). There is no settling for "the second-best tack" when striving for perfection. Jesus does not tell us to settle and "take the lesser of the evils," but by striving "to be perfect," it is implied that we are never to settle with any sort of evil, whether it be lesser or greater. After all, Aristotle concedes that things may become "hard," but he never admits that things may become impossible. And by taking this "second-best tack," we will "succeed best." According to Jesus, succeeding best is not what we should strive for, but we should rather strive to succeed in a perfect manner.Aristotle tells us "Now death is most frightening of all, since it is a boundary, and when someone is dead nothing beyond it seems either good or bad for him anymore" (1115a, 27-29). Since "when someone is dead nothing beyond it seems either good or bad for him anymore," death is a "boundary," it is an "end," and we should be scared of this end state of being. The Apostle Paul could not more strongly contradict this when he says, "For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better" (Philippians 1:21). Paul does not see death as an end to all, but rather just an end to living. Paul sees death as a privilege and a reward. And for dying to be "even better," one must assume that things after death can still "seem" to be "good." Although Aristotle and the early Christian thought of Jesus and Paul may contradict in respect to personal goals and the after-life, it is shocking to lay them side-by-side and observe the many...

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