Making People Good
In my previous post, Don’t All Religions Teach Basically the Same Thing?, I briefly touched on the idea that people think that it is the moral teaching of religion that really matters, not the theological details. I wanted to expand on that a little bit, but it didn't really fit with that post. Let's face it, my posts ramble enough without me chasing every rabbit that pops into my head.
(Given how easily distracted I am, you should be impressed when a post is even somewhat coherent. You know, I really need to vacuum after I finish this post. "Vacuum" is a funny word. Is that extra "U" really necessary? Those robot vacuums are cool, though. I should get a robot! With lasers! SQUIRREL!)
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, dealing with the question of whether it's the moral teachings of religion that really matters. For many religions, the answer might arguably be, yes. However, that is definitely not the case for Christianity. Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came to make dead people alive. In John 3, Jesus referred to this as being "born again."
It is possible to follow the Golden Rule and other moral principles from Scripture all the way to hell. God is not the least bit impressed with our "goodness." In fact no one measures up to his standard for what qualifies as good (Romans 3:10). Ultimately, what matters is being made righteous through God's work in us (Romans 3:20-14). Morality does matter, but it is more a side effect of the real work that God wants to do in us. As God changes our hearts, we become more and more like him, and our behavior gets more in line with his will.