Conscience In Christian Tradition Essay

3005 words - 12 pages


`Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil...'Gaudium et Spes (64). This opening quote from the Second Vatican Council is a good place to start in attempting to explore the complex subject of conscience. It indicates that conscience is something that can be known, based on love and is not just an individual personal thing. Conscience and having a soul are two of the distinguishing features of our humanity that set us apart from other species. Every religious code believes in a higher power and a morality that can be known or deduced by human reason. We are free rational agents capable of making decisions. How we act has consequences. In this essay, I will attempt to define what conscience is. I will then show how it evolves in a human, taking into account some psychological observations. The role of God in conscience is the most important one for Christians. How do we form our conscience in the light of God's teaching though his Son Jesus Christ? Finally, I will examine the Catholic Church's teaching on conscience.

What is conscience?

Conscience is defined in the dictionary as: "the ideas and feelings within a person, they tell one, when one is not doing right and warn one of what is wrong." We hear much about conscience: `the voice of conscience', `the rights of conscience', `informing conscience' and `following conscience'. Everyone is aware that they possess a conscience, but when asked to describe it, most people do not know how. They think of it as a feeling, mainly in terms of guilt, having done wrong, they express it in terms of: `my conscience is bothering me' or `I have a guilty conscience.' Sometimes it is expressed in terms of joy: `the joy of a good or clear conscience'. It is not so much that we have a conscience, as that we are a conscience. When we describe conscience in others, we may say that they have a sensitive conscience, that they are aware of the moral issues around them. Others a lax conscience or a dulled conscience, in that, no matter what decisions or choices may face them, they just forge ahead, justifying everything in terms of materialism or secularism. A modern way of thinking about moral choice is `if it feels okay for me then it is okay.' Others have a scrupulous conscience, in that any moral issues that face them, they are unable to deal with it due to some underlying anxiety, which causes them to feel immense guilt. Guilt can be healthy, but only if it is appropriate. There is also the psychological notion of conscience which is termed the superego, a person who spends all their lives struggling with the `have-tos' and `should' in terms of authority. Each person is born with the makings of a conscience; we are born with a capacity for thinking and feeling. This in its due course is `educated', or `informed' and allows us to distinguish...

Find Another Essay On Conscience in Christian Tradition

Inhumanity in Flannery O’Connor’s A Good Man is Hard to Find and Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

1129 words - 5 pages see for yourself.” Being wrongly convicted of a murder seemingly caused the Misfit to live up to his name as a killer, inhumanely killing innocent strangers. For both, the resolution results in the inner feelings of both characters to be revealed. For the Misfit, he finds his inner conscience, and maybe he can be freed from his guilt, and as for the beloved grandmother, the inhumanity caused by the Misfit results in exploiting the inner Christian

Civil Laws and Religious Authority in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels

1270 words - 5 pages Roman Catholics) hold a traditional view of scripture, and in their case, " the primitive way of breaking eggs . . . was upon the larger end" (2353), and that was "ancient practice" (2353). The Lilliputians (like Protestants), broke from tradition and held a personal view of scripture, as the Emperor decreed, "to break the smaller end of their eggs" (2353). And for "six and thirty moons past" (2353), the Lilliputians and Blefuscudians have been

Conflict Between Believers

1405 words - 6 pages Conflict Between Believers Introduction There is an obvious difference of opinion between two members of the Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church as it relates to whether as Christian we should celebrate Halloween. Couple A argues that is not up to Christianity to dictate what they should and should not celebrate, and uses Romans 14:5 to support their argument. Romans 14:5 reads, “In the same way, some think one day it is more holy than another

Nietzsche : God Is Dead

739 words - 3 pages The Question: State your understanding of the philosophy of F. Nietzsche. What does he mean by saying "God is Dead"?      Nietzsche's philosophy is that of a radical view as it calls for the complete reevaluation of morals and blatantly attacks the Judeo-Christian tradition in modern society. He believed one should dare to become who they are. In order to ascertain one's full potential as a human being, the ethic system of which by society

Conscience In Ethical Decision Making

1435 words - 6 pages conscience is a given, though its use is neglected by some, hence they are strayed from the right path. Religious morality in Islam relies heavily on the scriptural tradition of the Qur'an and Hadith. Stated within the Qur'an is that human conscience is either one of two types: (i) "Nafs-e-Mutminah", "The contented self", a virtuous self-differentiating between good and bad according to divine junctions, or (ii) "Nafs-eummarah", "The evil self

"Who is Man?" by Abraham Heschel

1028 words - 4 pages colloquies on race relations and in the corridors of power, he spoke on the sensitive and difficult problems of the day in the best tradition of the Western conscience and of its biblical roots.Even in his physical appearance conjuring up the image of what an Amos or an Isaiah must have looked like--stocky, full-bearded, speaking softly but with passionate intensity--itsmall wonder that many viewed him as a latter-day Hebrew prophet. Heschel would

Wang's Theology on Christian Living

1707 words - 7 pages Unknown to many Western Christians, Mr. Wang Mingdao (1901-1991) is one of the most influential and respected Chinese Christian leaders of the 20th century. He was a pastor of an independent church in Beijing founded on the “Three-self principle”. He was the conscience of the Chinese church boldly confronting false teachings and evils at his time. He was a prisoner for Jesus Christ spending two decades in prison suffering for his faith. Wang

Claudius as the Personification of Evil in 'Hamlet' by William Shakespeare

1238 words - 5 pages the individual rights of others on a massive scale, he/she is evil. In Shakespeare's time - the Elizabethan era - evil had a similar, but somewhat altered connotation in the human mind. Evil was an entity that violated the English Christian monarchial tradition. Therefore, a man such as Claudius, from Shakespeare's play Hamlet, a cold-blooded murderer and a ruthless manipulator, who uses "rank" deeds to usurp the thrown is in direct violation

Conscience In Ethical Decision Making

1410 words - 6 pages Fakhry, Muslim ethics can be defined as a "reason account of the nature and ground of right action and decisions and the principles underlying the claim that they are morally commendable or reprehensible." (Hoose 1999). Theoretically, common sense and conscience is a given, though its use is neglected by some, hence they are strayed from the right path. Religious morality in Islam relies heavily on the scriptural tradition of the Qur'an and Hadith


785 words - 3 pages pledge of a good conscience towards God. Baptism is a declaration to the world that says, "I have died to the old way of life. Sin will no longer rule over me for my old self has been buried. I have been resurrected by the power of God to live a new life in Christ Jesus". Through Baptism we are given our Christian name by our parents, which is blessed by the priest, or deacon, using the Trinitarian Formula. ("In the name of the Father, the Son and the

Anger is a Strong Emotion

1043 words - 4 pages reasoning, and surrender one to a state of madness. He then goes on to state some the physical attributes of displayed anger; such as heart racing and elevated pulse rate. He refers to this type of anger as “hostile and is therefore warned against and is considered sinful according to the Christian tradition He refers to this hostile anger as Christian tradition warns against and is considered sinful. It is my opinion that Aristotle gives

Similar Essays

The Problem Of Evil In The Judeo Christian Tradition Depicted In Hicks' Philosophy Of Religion

973 words - 4 pages The problem of evil is a difficult objection to contend with for theists. Indeed, major crises of faith can occur after observing or experiencing the wide variety and depths of suffering in the world. It also stands that these “evils” of suffering call into question the existence of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The “greater good defense” tries to account for some of the issues presented, but still has

The Rule Of Faith Essay

1416 words - 6 pages Introduction During the 2nd century early church teachings were challenged by Gnosticism a religious movement similar to Christianity. Contrary to the Christian teachings that salvation is attained through faith in Jesus Christ; Gnostics taught that salvation was attained through access to secret knowledge. Similar to the Christian tradition Gnostics claimed that the secret knowledge was passed on from the Apostles. In addition, Gnostics

Religious Tradition In Shirley Jackson's The Lottery

1116 words - 4 pages Religious Tradition in Shirley Jackson's The Lottery      While 'The Lottery' is a fictitious story it can be argued that it mirrors the attitude of American culture in how it addresses religious tradition in its major holidays and celebrations.      Two of the biggest holidays in the United States are Christmas and Easter. Both of which are derived from Christian beliefs. Even though 'The Lottery' is apparently a pagan ritual, violent

Evil And Suffering. Essay

1169 words - 5 pages Believers within religions battle and challenge the concept of faith of a higher, supreme being, due to the presence of evil. The question arises; If God the creator of the ordered and good world, cares, loves and wants the best for all His creatures, then why does those he loves have to face evil and suffering? Confronting such a force rekindles repeatedly this dilemma in the minds or people. The Christian Tradition deals with this obstacle