Idiocy or Arrogance?

I’ve been studying for a message on self-denial by looking at the way various religions approach the topic.  It is a topic most religions hold central.

I have found not a few websites dedicated to the preference of the Christian version of self-denial over that of other religions. One drew my attention so I read through it until I got to this line:

Biblical self-denial must cost us something.

Not kidding. Not making it up.

One of the differences between a biblical account of self-denial and that of any other religion, according to this writer, is that it must cost us something.

I am trying to imagine an account of self-denial that does not cost the self anything.

Ok; honestly, what I am really trying to imagine is a world where people who follow Jesus don’t make up stuff about other religions. Like how their self denial doesn’t cost anything.

Are there valid differences between a Christian account of self denial and those of other religions?  Yes, there are. Some make for very interesting discussion.  As I look around the allegedly Christian culture in which I live, my first thought is that we could learn something from someone else’s understanding of self denial.

4 thoughts on “Idiocy or Arrogance?

  1. I’m not completely sure I understand your point. Are you saying that Biblical self-denial does not involve a cost to us? I feel like you have left out something in terms of background regarding the comment you are reacting to. Perhaps the author was suggesting that “unlike other religions” there is a cost to self denial for Christians – in effect suggesting that other religions have a cost free form of self denial and therefore somewhat “less significant” than Christian self denial. Is that the point you are responding to? From the end of your blog, it implies that was an unstated premise in the article.

    Are you saying Christian self-denial has no cost?

    • Not at all! It seems tautological to me that self denial costs something. In fact, I wonder if we haven’t done a pretty good job of re-defining self-denial in ways that make it almost costless.

  2. I would think that just the act of denying self results in a cost, else why would it be a denial?
    My view, however, is that many Christians that I know don’t deny self, which I think is the bigger issue.

  3. I think the Buddhist tradition does self-denial very well. Perhaps on a praxis-level they even accomplish it with more success than Christians do. The whole practice of Zen meditation for instance is based on the idea that you clear your mind and spirit and bring it down to zero.

    While Jesus does say, “Deny yourself, take up your cross, etc…” he also says, “Love one another,” and feed the hungry, care for the poor, visit the imprisoned. It can be easy as a Christian to focus more on the extroverted “doing” aspects of our faith and less on the internal “being” aspects of it. And it can also be easy to assume that because we are helping others or serving our churches (getting caught up in the stuff of Christian life), we are sacrificing enough as it is. Even Lent can be prohibitive to giving up self year-round if we think we “get enough fasting/self-denial for those 40 days to last us all year…”

    Anyway, just some of my thoughts! Great question!

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