Where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. and where our heart is, there will be our reason and our premises. 

 

“Root Ideas of Human Freedom,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

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Merely intellectual education is not enough.

The world has many educated people who know how to reason, and they reason very well; but, curiously enough, many of them fail to examine the pre-established premises from which they reason, premises that turn out on examination to be antisocial, protective camouflages of power.

“Root Ideas of Human Freedom,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

The old triumvirate of tyrants in the human soul,

the libido sciendi, the libido sentiendi, and the libido domnandi*, is just as powerful today as it ever was, and no man can ignore its tyranny with impunity. It cannot be denied that religious liberalism has neglected these aspects of human nature in its zeal to proclaim the spark of divinity in man. We may call these tendencies by any name we wish, but we do not escape their destructive influence by a conspiracy of silence concerning them.

“Root Ideas of Human Freedom,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

 

*lust of sensual pleasures, lust of knowledge, lust of power

Whether the liberal uses the word “sin” or not,

he cannot correct his “too jocund” view of life until he recognizes that there is in human nature a deep-seated and universal tendency for both individuals and groups to ignore the demands of mutuality and thus to waste freedom or abuse it by devotion to the idols of the tribe, the theater, the cave, and the marketplace.

“Root Ideas of Human Freedom,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

“the forces of love and of power”

It is this coexistence in humanity of the possibility of using our freedom ad majorem gloriam dei and the possibility of perverting it to our own destructive ends that constitutes the deepest contradiction of our nature. And this contradiction is no merely human, subjective phenomenon. As Martin Luther suggests, humanity is the Schauplatz of opposing cosmic forces, the forces of love and of power. The contradiction penetrates our innermost spiritual life.

“Root Ideas of Human Freedom,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams

The tragedy does not derive merely from the fact that humanity carries an inheritance from the jungle within.

It derives also (and primarily) from the fact that we have a freedom that we did not have in the jungle, a freedom to exercise the infinitely higher powers of human nature in terms of creative love, and a freedom to waste them in mere lassitude and triviality, or to pervert them for the sake of a will to power.

“Root Ideas of Human Freedom,” from on being human religiously, James Luther Adams