Sunset - Larnaca

Sunset - Larnaca

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Luke's Gospel

Luke explains the growth of Christianity amongst the Gentiles. His Gospel assures his readers ( who were probably not Gentile Christians)  that their leader was no political threat to the empire, and that God had kept His promises in the Old Testament. Furthermore, Luke emphasises that the incorporation of Gentiles into the new movement was all part of the Divine plan from the very beginning.

Who was Luke? 
The Gospel writer was a companion of Paul, a Doctor ( Col 4.10-14). Internal evidence shows that he was an educated man, probably Gentile, though steeped in Jewish Scriptures and had great respect for Jewish institutions. Luke was probably righting especially for Gentile Christians. The Gospel is expected to have been written around 70-90CE.

The Gospel is certainly written for non-Christians, to commend Christianity to them. Luke ties in events in early Christian history, with events on the world stage - emphasising that this faith is true and the faith of all nations. 


Gospel : Centres around the spread of Christianity to Jerusalem, where as Acts centres around the spread to Rome. The Gospel begins in the Temple, therefore a very Jewish opening. Overall, Luke tells us that the Holy Christian mission will be successful, however there are hints that Jews will not ultimately accept Jesus ( which is of course true )
Jews demand Jesus' death, although it seems that they repent when they see what they have done (23.48). 

Acts concentrates on two leaders - first Peter, then Paul. The period of the Jerusalem church is presented as a golden age, as Peter and Paul as well as other disciples preach, gain converts, and everyone share possessions. God Has been faithful to His people it seems, although the opposition is still there ( Jewish leaders and Jerusalemites, 6.9-12) 
Paul dominates second half; leading the role in taking faith around the Mediterranean; missionary journeys. Acts 15 allows Gentiles to be admitted without keeping the laws as long as they are given a set of rules to stick to. Finally, the true heirs to the promises in the Jewish scriptures are no longer Jews, but Christians ( the renewed faith in Christ ).

Other Distinctive Features of Luke's writings:

Luke's portrait of Jesus is that of a Prophetic Messiah, often compared to Moses, Elijah and Elisha. In addition the Lord is seen as an innocent Martyr, a model of compassion and forgiveness, and more importantly dies forgiving his enemies and the whole world.
There is also a great interest in the poor and marginalised. Furthermore, there is a prominence of women, particularly in the Birth stories, Mary and Martha ( 10.38-42) as well as parables involving women. The will of God and the prominence of the Holy Spirit is clear; Every development is spirit led, both in the Gospel and in Acts. The relationship with Christianity and Rome is also reflected, as he shows Christianity as a respectable faith, peaceful and law-abiding. Christ's followers therefore and not guilty of any crime against Rome.

Luke takes us back to Adam, and so he stresses that God's salvation is for the whole world. 

Luke's Gospel is largely orientated towards showing how this salvation comes to be rejected by the people of God; and this is quite unique.

The Temple plays a significant part in the whole process of Luke's Gospel and message. Characters repeatedly emphasise how the beginning of Jesus' story is associated with the Temple, and perhaps this is linked with the idea of the Jews being the first to receive the message of salvation - the capital of Judea. The birth of John the Baptist is announced in the Temple, and Christ is brought here eight days after His birth to be circumcised. Whilst there, He is recognised as the Messiah.

Matthew's Gospel : The New Moses

The Gospel according to Matthew, is certainly the most Jewish Gospel, as the writer presents Jesus as the Son of David, a second and greater Moses. Old Testament quotations ( over sixty ) show that everything about Jesus Christ was promised by the Prophets. However the synagogue authorities have rejected Him, which means that for Matthew, the Church is the new Israel.  He was presumably concentrating on writing for Jewish Christians, as the tone is strikingly Jewish. ' This took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken through the prophet.'

Who was Matthew?
The Gospel writer was a carpenter. ( Mt 9.9-13 ) Papias ( cited by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 3.39.16 ) shows that Matthew compiled the sayings ''λόγια', in the Aramaic/Hebrew Language, and translated them as well as he could. 

When was the Gospel written?
Uses Mark, knows of fall of Jerusalem, therefore post 70. Known by Ignatius, c.110-115, so probably was finally written and in circulation by the 80's and 90's.

Comparison with Mark:
The Gospel follows the same general pattern, although Matthew adds birth stories, more on the resurrection story, and five blocks of teaching ( linking to the Torah ).
The Birth stories show Jesus as the Son of David, Son of God, second Moses, and Emmanuel ( God is with us ). 

The fall of Jerusalem is proof of God' wrath on Israel perhaps, and the tension can be seen in the Gospel, between Matthew's community and the local Synagogue. For Matthew, the Church is the new Israel, heir to all God's promises in the Old Testament. 

Christ as 'the new Moses' :
The outline of the Lord's ministry, has close parallels to that of Moses:
1) Male child miraculously born to Jews
2) A fierce tyrant ( Herod ) wants to destroy Him
3) Child supernaturally protected from harm in Egypt
4) Passes through waters  - Baptism
5) Goes into wilderness
6) Goes up a mountain to deliver God's law

These early stories show that He is a fulfilment of the story of Moses. Herod is like the Pharaoh. Christ experiences forty days of testing, like the forty years children of Israel spent in the wilderness. Moses was also rejected by those who refused to recognise his leadership, so too was Jesus. 
Perhaps most importantly, the Sermon on the Mount, is like the law of Moses being delivered on Mount Sinai. Jesus is therefore the one Who Has come to set His people free, through all of these fulfilment's. Christians are expected to follow the traditional Jewish cultic practices, however they are of secondary importance. The law is to be obeyed to the fullest extent possible, but what really matters is Christ and His life and love. This of course brings in the idea of Christian life being compatible with Jewish tradition, as well as being a fulfilment of that tradition. Furthermore it highlights that Christ is the true life, regardless of culture and situation. It is important to note that Christ does not replace Moses. Rather, He is the true and final interpreter of what Moses recorded in the law - followers must obey the Old Testament laws, as prescribed by Christ. The Lord's sermon provides guidance, and true understanding of Jewish law. 

Birth Stories:

Genealogy: Mt 1.2-17
Traced back to Abraham, two sets of fourteen which is Gematria ( an Assyro-Babylonian system of numerology, later adopted by Jews which assigns numerical value to a word or phrase ) based on 'David'.

Mary found to be pregnant: Mt 1.18-25
Betrothal, around 12.5 years old; same legal status as marriage, so therefore it was presumed by some that she had been involved in an affair, therefore adultery. This is where the first of many dreams are said to have taken place, as well as first of many Old Testament citations. Joseph does not have any relations with Mary until the Birth, showing the baby certainly isn't his.

Visit of Magi: Mt 2.1-12
Jesus is born in Bethlehem ( city of David )
Magi, astrologers from the east, Perians, Zoroastrians.
This reflects the prophecy of Balaam ( Numbers 22-24 )
Herod and all of Jerusalem - anticipation of hostility at the end of the Gospel.

Egypt and on to Nazareth: Mt 2.13-23
There is a contest between Herod and the Magi.
Egypt - parallel with Moses; as well as the story of Israel.
Herod is seen as the Pharaoh ( Exodus 1 )

An interesting point that scholars make, is that perhaps Matthew intended this section to be a poetic introduction to the themes that would later emerge in his Gospel. His account of the Birth , seems to be very different to Luke's account, and of course Matthew is concentrating on the Old Testament prophecies, as well as dreams. This is why scholars argue that his account was perhaps not a historical one.

Beatitudes: Mt 5.3-12
Blessings in the future age, reminiscent of Isaiah 61.1, 2,7

Jesus and the Law: Mt 5.17-20
Prologue to the six examples which Christ then gives. Matthew's community is of course not only still keeping the Jewish law, but also going beyond it; surpassing the Mosaic Law. Christ therefore is in continuity with what went before, but also as Messiah brings the renewal.

Six Examples: Mt 5.21 - 5.48
The Lord gives six concrete examples of the kind of attitude that He expects. It is moral vision, rather than a set of rules. Murder, adultery, divorce, oaths, turn the other cheek, love of enemies. Much of this has parallels with rabbinic literature; again highlighting how Jesus the Messiah is teaching the truth, a truth that is expressed fully and perfectly in Him and through Him. Matthew highlights that Jesus speaks with authority, as the New Moses, bringing renewal to the law.

Instruction on how to act: Mt 6.1-18
Almsgiving, prayer, fasting; central thing is the intention. The Lord's Prayer is also given ( which has parallels to Shemoneh Esreh )

Overall, the Gospel of Matthew recognises Jesus as a Jewish Messiah ( as Matthew is writing especially for the Jews ), and that He instructs the people if Israel to follow Jewish tradition in the right way - but of course it also urges them to reject the Jewish authorities.

Mark's Gospel

I begin this new series of blog posts, with the Gospel according to Mark. I will begin with a few short paragraphs that summarise the historicity, and context of this Gospel and its writer; and then will go through the chapters pointing out significant passages and themes. My following piece of writing, which will be posted tomorrow, will be on the Gospel according to Luke and Matthew.

When was Mark written ?
Certainly, the Gospel of Mark was written after the death and Resurrection of Christ, in the 1st Century.

It is clear that Mark’s Gospel had been moved around orally, and was written later, post 30’s (Period of oral transmission ). Mark 13 does seems to reflect the Jewish war - 66 - 70. Either it was written before the fall of the temple ( 70 CE ) , or just after.  Most scholars nowadays say it is more likely that it was after this event.

Who was Mark?
Papias (cited by Eusebius 3.29.15)
‘When Mark had become Peter’s interpreter, he wrote down accurately, though not in order , all that he remembered of the things said or done by the Lord. For he had neither heard the Lord nor followed him, but later, as I said, followed Peter
‘My son Mark’ (1 Peter 5.13)
Very few mainstream commentators would argue for as close a communication with Peter as Papias implies, but not impossible that the evangelist Mark had come in contact with Petrine traditions.
Mark writes in Greek ( although probably not his native language ). 

For whom was the Gospel written?
Old Testament Quotations suggest that Mark's community were familiar with the Jewish scriptures. Probably originally belonged to Jewish synagogue , though it is clear from the Gospel that disputes with Jewish leaders have left their mark on the community.

There is an openness to non Jews ( Gentile mission ) ,  and the community itself was perhaps predominantly Gentile. Jesus tells us in the Temple, that this is the House of prayer ‘for all nations’ Therefore the faith is for everyone.

The Gospel is certainly meant to be read out. The Chapters speed along ( use of ‘ευθύς’ , meaning immediately ) until the beginning of the Passion story in chapter 14 where events finally slow down (to almost hour by hour accounts ). This shows that the Gospel is leading up to the death-resurrection of Jesus, which is the climax of Mark's Gospel.

The Messianic Secret is very interesting - the fact that Jesus tells everyone to keep His messianic truth quiet; even after healing many people, He asks them not to tell anyone. Perhaps this is due to Christ's humility, which would be something  contrary to the Jewish idea of a Messiah; a Glorious King of power. 

The Son of God Who fulfils Scripture: ( Ehrman)

One of the first things that strikes the reader of Mark's Gospel is how thoroughly its traditions are rooted in a Jewish worldview. Mark uses the Jewish word 'messiah', which in his historical context meant the future King of Israel who would deliver God's people from their oppressors, or more importantly a cosmic deliverer from heaven, who would engage in supernatural warfare with the enemies of the Jews, and bring divine victory over their oppressors. There are many parts of the Gospel that are fulfilment's of Old Testament Prophecies.

Jesus Christ - the Authoritative Son of God : (Ehrman)

Christ sees fisherman plying their trade, and calls them. Without further ado they immediately leave their boats, family and co-workers, to follow Him. When Christ enters the synagogue to teach, He astonishes those who hear Him, and when He gives instruction people hang onto His every word. When Jesus encounters a man possessed with an unclean spirit, the man immediately recognises that He is 'the Holy one of God' (1:24). Christ drives out the unclean spirit, and also makes it clear that any evil spirits and powers that are in opposition to God, He will cast them out and defeat them. This somewhat authoritative portrayal of Christ sets the scene for the rest of the Gospel. 

Mark's Gospel : 

The Calling of the Twelve: Mk 3.13-19
Theological significance of 'the mountain' - Exodus 3, 1 Kings, Exodus 19-20. The symbolism of the 12 is the 12 tribes of Israel, and the twelve are appointed as representatives in a way of the new restored Israel, and world in general.

Parables ( Παραβολή - Greek ) ( Masal - Hebrew ) :

The parables are comparisons, and metaphors. They can be long stories, as well as short sayings. Parables bring us double meanings, and can challenge the reader. In Mark's Gospel they tend to be about the Kingdom of God, and are drawn from everyday lives of first century Galilean peasants.

Parable of the Sower:
Meaning : Despite early setbacks, the Kingdom of God will flourish. The word of God will challenge hearers; some will fail to respond to His calling, however others will respond and will be rewarded. This parable interestingly assumes long periods where the Christian faith will be tested, and this is certainly seen through history , and in our present day society. It also reflects the experiences of Mark's own community , and probably other early Christian communities. 

Understanding of the Parables:
Parables can be enigmatic, and they relate to the experience of the readers - the parable of the sower is a prime example of this. The Person of Christ is greatly revered within Mark's parables, even through the original rural context, they are very much relevant to all societies and followers. They show that the Lord is behind everything, offering hope and reassurance to the reader.

Miracles: Mk 5.21-43; 6.30-56
The miracles show Christ's authority over the whole of the natural world - not only can He heal diseases, but also can calm storms. This also emphasises that Jesus is indeed the Theanthropos, as He is seen in such parables as the 'Pantocrator' , the Almighty Creator and Lord.There is a strong sense of Him putting the world right. The miracles and exorcisms tie with the central theme , which is the Kingdom of God - the manifestation of the Kingdom on earth. In Christ, the Kingdom is at work, and it beautifully includes people who would normally at that time, have been marginalised and excluded from Jewish Society. 

The Feeding of the 5,000: Mk 6.30-44
There is Old Testament imagery, which shows Jesus acting with the power and authority of God. If we look back at Elisha in 2 Kings 4.42-44, as well as Exodus 16 and Numbers 11 we see the links regarding the wilderness. There is also Eucharistic imagery in the bread. The abundance of food left, stresses the idea of the 'messianic banquet', the time at the close of the age when followers of Christ will enter into a special relationship with God in His Kingdom, an age characterised by feasting and abundance. This is a point when the followers perhaps realise that He is not only acting as Moses and the other Prophets did, but He is indeed God Himself incarnate. It appears to be a rather high point of the Gospel -  showing the people of Israel flocking to Jesus, but things are about to change as the Gospel begins to be taken to the Gentiles.

The Gentile Cycle: Mk 6.30 - 8.21

Clean/Unclean :
The Pharisees and Scribes ask why the disciples do not live according to their tradition, regarding cleanliness and uncleanliness. This particular ritual of washing hands, was only practiced by Pharisees, and not all Jews in Jesus' day. This originated in priestly circles, and the principle was adopted by Pharisees on the assumption that all food should be treated as if it had been offered in the Temple. So the great question being asked is whether to eat unclean food. Christ replies to them by saying 'whatever goes into a man from outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not his heart but his stomach.' Christ therefore declares all food clean and acceptable to eat, as He highlights 'what comes out of a man is what defiles a man', and the Lord gives examples of what truly makes a human being unclean and sinful; ' come evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander,pride, foolishness.' So these simple traditions of uncleanliness are not as important as the state of a human beings heart. We must not worry about these issues, but be concerned about our personal issues that really affect our spiritual lives - our actions and thoughts that affect the relationship with God, and our neighbours.

The Syro-Phenician Woman's Daughter: Mk 7.24-30
Jesus heals a gentile child. There is an important connection between this story and the earlier discussion, regarding true cleanliness. Mark wants us to see the connection between declaring all foods clean, and the healing of a gentile. This is where he perhaps wants to highlight that Christ's mission and ministry is broadened out from Israel alone, to the gentile world too. Even though the Lord's words seem harsh at this point in the area of Tyre and Sidon, we must not forget that at the same time He does still heal the daughter, and solves the woman's problem; even though He was trying to escape notice.

* Note : Fr Lawrence Farley has written a very interesting reflection on whether or not Christ is calling the gentile woman a dog, and why he uses this phrase in the context. It is a striking passage, and it is key that we understand the whole context, that is clarified in Matthew's Gospel ( Matthew 15:21-28)

Healing of a Deaf Man: Mk 7.31-37
Again the Lord heals a gentile, this time in the area of Decapolis. Christ looks up into Heaven and says 'Eph'ahatha'( be opened ), and from this moment the man was healed. 

The feeding of the 4000: Mk 8.1-10
Firstly, the similarities with the feeding of the 5000 is striking, however Mark is probably showing the importance of Christ giving life to every group of people, including the Gentiles. The giving of bread is a symbol of Jesus giving life and hope to Gentiles, as He does with all people of the world.

Jesus' Identity and the Journey to Jerusalem: Mk 8.27-10.52

Who do people say that I am?
The Disciples recognise that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, but they still do not understand the full significance of this, especially the necessity of suffering. We see the first passion prediction, and from here on, the death of Christ becomes a dominant theme in the Gospel.
Son of Man - Aramaic, 'bar nasa', is used by Jesus exclusively in Mark's Gospel. It is used particularly in contexts describing future suffering and vindication.

Discipleship involves suffering: Mk 8.34-38
There seems to be three general commandments that Christ gives to His disciples; He tells them to 1) deny themselves 2) take up their cross 3) follow Him.
Mark's community may have experienced some kind of persecution, just as all Christians do - so the Gospel writer may want to show that suffering because of faith, is all foreseen by God.

Transfiguration: 9.2-8
'He was transfigured before them, and His garments became glistening, intensely white, as no fuller on earth could bleach them.'
The radiant figure of Christ shows His Divinity, and that the passion that was yet to come was voluntary. He truly is the Saviour of the world, and the 'Theanthropos' - and this highlights the possibility of our own theosis. 
Troparion of the Feast of the Transfiguration : 
'You were Transfigured on the Mount, O Christ God,
Revealing Your Glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it.
Let Your everlasting Light shine upon us sinners!
Through the prayers of the Theotokos, O Giver of Light, Glory to You!'

The scene as a whole underlines Jesus' identity, and confirms His messianic status.

Journey to Jerusalem:

Christ begins the journey from Caesarea Philippi in the north to Jerusalem. Attention is drawn to the question of discipleship, and the Lord says 'if any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.' Disciples should therefore show concern for the weakest and most humble members of their community. Jesus emphasises how we should do everything in His name. ' Whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ, will by no means lose his reward.'
There is then a discussion on Deuteronomy 24.1 ( divorce ) and the Lord says that adultery is not only an offence against a man, but also against a woman. 
'They were bringing children to Him, that He might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, 'Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.' This is where the Lord tells us we must look to children as an example, of purity, innocence and goodness. 'Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.' During the journey, a man runs up to Christ, and asks Him 'what must I do to inherit eternal life?' Jesus then tells him various commandments that he should keep, and the man replies 'teacher, all these things I have observed from my youth.' 'Jesus looking upon him loved him,  and said to him, 'You lack one thing; go sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come , follow me.' This is the very definition of sacrificial and selfless love. The man simply thinks that by observing the 'rules and regulations' of the commandments, that He will achieve salvation. It is not so much the laws, but acting out of true love that brings us close to Christ. This also brings us back to what it means to be a disciple of the Lord, and to follow Him. We must be prepared to put absolutely everything down, and leave all our possessions for Him. This whole passage is concluded by an emphatic line that reiterates the general meaning and message : ' first will be last and the last first.' 

The following passages introduce questions regarding statuses, and honour. Disciples are not to behave like others, and the path of following Christ will involve suffering and going against the 'norms' of society. This journey narrative continues the theme of discipleship, which for Mark is clearly linked to suffering, and being prepared to die with Christ. The normal expectations of society are subverted - people must give up their families and possessions, and the leaders of the community are ones who serve and behave as servants to the people. 

Trial and Crucifixion (Mk 14.53-15.41)

Jewish Trial:
Held before the Jewish Council Sanhedrin, Christ confronts His adversaries and this adds to the negative presentation of the Jewish leadership. 2 Charges are given :
1) Temple Charge - Jesus is silent 
2) Are you the Christ ? Jesus affirms the truth  'I Am'

Roman Trial:
Pontius Pilate asks Him
1)  'Are you the King of the Jews?' - 'You said so' Christ replies
2) Numerous charges are then put forward by the chief priests - Jesus remains silent 

Crucifixion: 15.23-39
There are Old Testament Parallels, from Psalms, Isaiah and Deuteronomy - this shows that the Crucifixion is very much a fulfilment of the Old Testament.
Christ's Cry : Mark shows that Jesus goes to His death alone, abandoned, even by the Father it seems. 
His death is then followed by two incidents : 
1) Tearing of the Temple Veil - probably shows a divine judgement on the Temple and Jewish leadership, which rejected Jesus. Furthermore, it may highlight the breaking down of the barrier between clean and unclean, holy and profane.
2) Centurion's confession - significant that he is a gentile.

Crucifixion usually did not involve burial, however this was all probably part of the humiliation process. Pilate is surprised at Jesus' early death, and the centurion confirms and is a witness that He is really dead.

Empty Tomb:

Χριστός Ανέστη - Christ Is Risen

Saturday, 3 May 2014

David Hume : Benevolence

Biblical Passage : 1 Cor.13

Love as Grace

For the Apostle Paul, Love is implanted in the human heart by the Divine Spirit; making it possible to fulfil and perform the requirements of the Holy Law and commandments. 

In an analogous position to that of Plato, Paul takes the view that the heart is a purified heart - focused on love, and therefore through the spiritual heart we are capable of doing what is good and kind. He warns us that we are unable to fulfil the law ( what is morally right ) without divine aid - love. Romans 7, tells us that as human beings we certainly know what is good, and want what is good; however we do not always act in the good way that we know and will. This is of course due to our sinful nature - a consequence of the fall. 

Augustine : 'Love and do what you will ! '

Our desires must be shaped by Christian education and teaching - the entire Church gives us this opportunity to positively shape and improve our desires throughout our lives : Scripture, prayer, confession and repentance, catechism and instruction, and reading the lives of the saints. For Augustine, this is the central moral task in the Christian life. As God is Love, Augustine says that love is the highest good; and to love Him is to cleave to this highest good, which is what the soul is there for. Therefore Augustine highlights that love is of course the highest virtue.

David Hume, who's ideas shaped those of Kant, Darwin and Bentham, is an empiricist. He clearly dismisses the reality of the invisible world ( which his classical and Christian contemporaries generally accepted ). He is known as the 'supreme sceptic'. While he disputes the idea of reason being the sole explanation of morality, Hume disagrees with the idea that morality is illusory, or can be simplified to mean self-interest. Interestingly, it is benevolence that is proof for Hume, that morality is far more than simply self-interest. He even says that benevolence ( or we could go as far as saying love, and compassion and kindness ) is a virtue, that is universally admired and expressed. He realises that benevolence is what brings the world together, morally and ethically. Consequently he feels that this love and kindness, that is admittedly so central not only to morality but to the whole of humanity, disproves the argument that morality is simply an individual's selfish illusion. Love completely abolishes selfishness, and it is something that is unexplainable ( as it is Divine)  and very much part of the 'invisible world', so this is a compelling stance from Hume.

Hume claims that benevolence is the supreme moral virtue - the amount of joy, happiness and satisfaction that love brings to individuals, and society as a whole, does not fail to amaze him. Even though he does not accept divine revelation as being a source of morality, he certainly accepts that these 'sentiments and feelings' are the source - and it could be argued that these moral 'sentiments' are not shaped by society alone, but shaped by the true Love of Christ. Surely we cannot separate the consequences of love that Hume describes - such as being charitable and kind, with the source of love and life : God.

It would be very dangerous however, to base morality on sentiments and feelings, especially from the viewpoint of David Hume that these feelings are not divinely inspired.  When our sentiments and feelings are not divinely inspired and bound to God, then they can go awry ( away from the right path that God expects us to go along ). The psychiatrist James Gilligan, with his interesting book 'why some politicians are more dangerous than others' emphasises such danger. Perhaps his book is in a slightly different context : politically based, however it does highlight why sentiments and feelings alone can lead us away from God's moral law and commandments. His book shows that rates of violent crime, suicide and homicide, drastically and dramatically increase under extreme conservative political power. This is due to their general targeting of the poor, increasing unemployment and inequality. Gilligan argues that this is because of sentiments and ideas that such parties seem to hold and carry, which opposes Christ's loving commandment of respecting and loving the poor and weak. 

Law Love and Liberty

We are freed from the law of sin and death through our Lord and Saviour Christ. Love is the 'highest law', and therefore those who follow this divine love and act according to it, need no law or set of rules - hence they are truly free. Hebert McCabe, beautifully writes that ' the truly loving act demands that we  ignore or go beyond the rules.' Moral laws are of course important, and represent accumulated wisdom of the ages : they tell us the best things to do in certain situations, however they leave us in a slight dilemma. It is us who have to make the final decision. The actual judgement. This is why they are 'rules of art' , a moral apprenticeship ; allowing us to go ahead and make our very own judgements without the rules in front of us. We can only do this when we act out of love, and in a way Hume identifies this love, or 'benevolence' as he calls it, and highlights how it is the most important virtue, and guide in our lives.