NOTE from the Author: This is an excerpt from the book I am currently working on, it is a work in progress. I hope you find some merit, and value in the subject matter, I welcome your feedback.
When we look to the early days of our government, as our Founding Fathers grappled with the idea of self-governance as a form of government, they knew that for this Republic to survive the people needed to be virtuous and this virtue needed to be an important conviction and needed to be declared outwardly even if unpopular. The Greeks referred to this attitude of living by and declaring one’s convictions as “arête.” What does that mean? In my search I have found that the Greek translation of arête means “virtue or excellence,” being the best you can be. http://lancefuhrer.com/arete.htm
It is interesting to note that in the Bible, the word arête is translated into our English words as “integrity”, “virtue” and “moral excellence”. It refers to strength of character; an active quality which requires courage and energy. We know by reading the Federalist Papers and other works and speeches given by our Founding Fathers that not only was our country founded upon the universal and absolute principle of virtue, but that they gained their insight and understanding of virtue from Judeo-Christian beliefs, principles and yes, from the Bible itself.
Noah Webster, author of the first American Speller and the first Dictionary said of religion, “[T]he Christian religion, in its purity, is the basis or rather the source of all genuine freedom in government. . . . And I am persuaded that no civil government of a republican form can exist and be durable in which the principles of that religion have not a controlling influence.”
With that in mind, let us look at what the Bible says about virtue. The Lord tells us to grow in this characteristic [virtue], and what will happen to the individual who does not align him/herself with “virtue” in 2 Peter 1:5-9(KJV): “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
It was James Wilson, who signed the Constitution and later became U.S. Supreme Court Justice who said “Human law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. . . . Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistants. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other.” And John Hay, the original Chief-Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court said; “The Bible is the best of all books, for it is the word of God and teaches us the way to be happy in this world and in the next. Continue therefore to read it and to regulate your life by its precepts.” http://www.free2pray.info/5founderquotes.html
In today’s culture being virtuous is portrayed as weak and useless, it is the butt of many jokes, no longer taken seriously and no longer a character trait we encourage our youth to strive for in their daily lives. It is part of our past, seen or observed as a previous era filled with contempt, disrespect, disdain, arrogance and disapproval. To be a person of virtue is to be alone and endure criticism by the world and even by some so-called Christians in today’s culture. In his article: “Why Virtue is Important and Needed”, Dr. Richard J. Krejci, states that “Virtue calls us higher to a level where few people desire to go, because it is an assault against the self-will. It flies in the face of what we expect and desire to do and to be.” In other words, it is very difficult to live a virtuous life. http://www.discipleshiptools.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=37086&columnid=4166
We have seen, virtue is gained both from habit, as Aristotle stated and from our Judo-Christian beliefs and absolute principles as our Founding Fathers have espoused and written about many, many times! So what does it mean to be virtuous than? What does it look like, and how can we identify a virtuous person?
By: Andrea K. Robson