Canto 4 Inferno: Virtue

In Canto 4 of the Inferno, Virgil leads Dante through Limbo. Here is found the philosophers and pagan virtuous. Those who lived virtuous lives yet did not know of Christ.

I don’t know if such a place exists or if pre-Christian people are forever in Limbo. But the point of this entry is not placement, but the place of virtue.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul talks about knowledge and understanding the mysteries of life and the universe and encouraging and comforting, but if these things are not done in love (agape) then they are nothing, a clanging cymbal.

Isn’t it the same with virtue? If one lives a virtuous life, but does not have faith, hope and love, isn’t this too a clanging cymbal? And faith being the faith of Jesus Christ, and hope being a hope in all things being redeemed and remade under Christ, and love being God’s love, divine love that transforms all things.

We can be as virtuous as we want to be. But if virtue is not under the obedience of Christ isn’t it missing something crucial?

Virtue will not save you. Neither will reason. Even the virtuous must bend the knee to something greater, to the originator of virtue–God himself.

Can virtue lead you toward Christ? Of course. But if virtue is your highest aim, there is a whole other thing that is missed.

Philosophy seeks to understand from the point of view of man. Man asking questions about greater things, even about God but from the limited understanding of man’s mind. Theology is seeking to understand God. Something revealed. Philosophy is man seeking wisdom and God. Whereas the point of theology is God revealing himself to man.

Let me give an example: I could live a virtuous life, even as a Christ-follower. But if I eschew obedience to Christ and only have virtue as a foundation, the slightest thing will tear that foundation right out from underneath me. One instance of covetousness and acedia (not caring about spiritual obedience) and virtue only has shaky ground to stand on. Why should I be moral if there is no God or I don’t care about what God has commanded? Morality, virtue, reason will never save me. Only obedience to Christ who has given virtue, morality, reason. To follow and obey Christ will usually want you to become virtuous because you love God. If you love virtue, that virtue will possibly bring you near God, but it may also bring you nearer to moralism. A self-sufficiency that will never submit (obey) to Christ. (Submitting is a bad word in today’s world. But a good example is if you love your father or mother, wouldn’t you want to obey them because they love you and want the best for you? Or if there is trouble in your family at least a father-figure or mother-figure whom you trust and love).

(This entry is somewhat rambling. Oh well. It’s not the best. But take what you can. Correct or question what hasn’t been covered. This is a tough subject for me to write about logically.)


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