We all have a general sense of values, to do good, avoid evil, and tell the truth. However, there is a process of moral reasoning. How do we apply this sense of values to concrete situations? An example might be truth in advertising. Quite often there is no outright lie, but rather a shading or emphasis on a certain good side. Our community helps us shape this decision. Your attitude to advertising will be different if you are working in advertising versus working in a consumer advocate group.
Everyone has the right to an opinion. We all enjoy freedom of speech. Yet we have to ask the question about what is truth. What are the boundaries of Church membership? We always create boundaries. States need lines or borders. Groups have laws, common beliefs, values, and practices.
We all stand within a cultural tradition with concepts, ideals and values of what is a meaningful life. Christianity transmits the wisdom of the past and is always conservative, but sometimes prophetic. All Christian traditions use the Bible in their worship services and as a source of wisdom and spiritual development.
The Old Testament Hebrew Bible raises questions of interpretation for a Christian. To what extent am I, as a Christian, projecting Christian views and values on the children of Israel, the people of Israel, the Israelites? There are various terms that translators have used to describe the slowing forming group of Yahweh believers over three thousand years ago. Yahweh was their God and intervened in their lives. They had a special relationship or covenant with him. The Hebrew sacred writings were incorporated into Christianity because all the early Christians were Jewish. However, the writings were not originally meant for Christians, but for the Hebrew people. Can I really fully understand the Semitic thought process of three thousand years ago? Will I be able to appreciate how important the promised land of Israel was to Jewish people? What role did the exodus from Egypt, the Temple, the exile, and the various codes play in their lives? I can try, but I doubt if I will be fully successful.
“If riches are a desirable possession in life,
What is richer than wisdom?
Wisdom is the active cause
Of all things.
If understanding is effective,
Who more than she
Is the fashioner of what exists?
If any one loves righteousness,
Her labors are virtues.
She teaches self-control.
She teaches prudence.
She teaches justice.
She teaches courage.
Nothing in life
Is more profitable
For mortals than these.
If anyone longs for wide experience,
She knows the things of old.
She infers the things to come.
She understands turns of speech.
She understands the solutions of riddles.
She has foreknowledge of signs.
She has foreknowledge of wonders.
She has foreknowledge of the outcome of seasons.
She has foreknowledge of the outcome of times.”
Wisdom is greater than any good there is, not only material things, but spiritual or conceptual values also. Everyone wants riches (πλοῦτός) so that the most desirable possession in life is wisdom (σοφίας), the cause of all things. If you want understanding (φρόνησις), then you need wisdom. If you love righteousness (δικαιοσύνην ἀγαπᾷ), you need wisdom. Wisdom teaches the four great Greek cardinal virtues of self-control, prudence, justice, and courage. Wisdom knows about the past and the future. She can solve riddles. She also has foreknowledge of signs and wonders, as well as the outcome of the seasons and the times to come.