Archive for Saturday, December 6, 2008

Faith Forum: Can a person be ‘good’ without also being spiritual?

December 6, 2008


Goodness akin to spiritual likeness

Marshall Lackrone, pastor, Calvary Temple Assembly of God, 606 W. 29th St.:

This question points to a person who is “concerned with religious values.”

Being good is relative to your own community, but for the most part we associate “good” with another word that has the same root word in its background, “goodness.” This by definition is “Godlike.”

It would seem that by the nature of being good we could not avoid having a spiritual likeness. Paul wrote the following (Ephesians 4:24-27:): “And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, (27) and do not give the devil a foothold.”

Here, Paul shows us that we were created to be like God and we are not to allow the devil to get a “foothold” in our lives. There is no doubt that being good will result in being spiritual. Paul also wrote (Ephesians 6: 11-17): “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

— Send e-mail to Marshall Lackrone at

Kindness without spirituality limited

Zalman Tiechtel, rabbi, Chabad Jewish Community Center, 1203 W. 19th St.

We have all met people of great character who are not religious, and lowlifes who present a pious facade. Some concentrate on having a good relationship with God, while others would rather focus on having good relationships with fellow human beings.

It is not up to us to judge who is better — that is God’s business. But we do have to decide what is right for our own lives. Are rituals meaningful if not accompanied by kind-heartedness? Is goodness missing something if it is humanistic rather than divine-based?

From a Jewish perspective, you can’t really have one without the other. Ritual without human compassion is hollow; and kindness without spirituality is limited.

If someone is able to serve God — pray fervently, observe all the traditions and more — but nevertheless doesn’t act kindly to others, then that is dysfunctional religion. If you really love God, then surely you should also love his children! Such a person’s service is empty.

But by the same token, one who is kind and caring but has no spiritual connection may be a very nice person, but lacks a vital element — the soul element.

From a purely “humanistic” perspective, I am me, you are you; we can love each other, but we will always remain distinct and separate. If I am kind to you, then it is “me” going out of my way to be kind to “you.” But from the soul perspective, we are all one. Our bodies may be separate, but our souls are deeply linked, because we are all part of the one divine source. So the kindness I show you is as natural and innate as the kindness I show myself.

In Judaism, our rituals are means to become more sensitized to this soul-reality that unites us.

Yes, there are religious lowlifes. But imagine how much lower they’d be without religion.

And there are secular saints. But their kindness would be infinitely deeper if they became more aware of the soul dimension, and practiced the actions that make it real in our lives.

— Send e-mail to Zalman Tiechtel at


Jennifer Forth 9 years ago

Marc Hauser - Harvard - it's all part of our evolutionary heritage and has nothing to do with religion, as much as religion would like to take credit for it. There are people who can be completely open and caring and not believe in superstition.

BrianR 9 years ago

"Can a person be ‘good’ without also being spiritual?"Of course, just like a really "religious" person can be bad. These things, for the most part, are mutually exclusive.

canyon_wren 9 years ago

The rabbi explained it so well--I totally agree with what he said.

DonnieDarko 9 years ago

"Yes, there are religious lowlifes. But imagine how much lower they’d be without religion."Actually, I would say that Ted Haggard, Pat Robertson and Fred Phelps are lowlifes BECAUSE of their religion. They are not elevated in any way because they claim to be Christians. The rabbi's statement suggests that they still aren't as "bad" as an equivalent non-religious person, which is complete bull*&%$.

AjiDeGallina 9 years ago

Faith Forum: Can a person be ‘good’ without also being spiritual?As a Christian, I have to say this is a very ignorant and stupid question. Of course they can.

yellowhouse 9 years ago

One can be good from the heart, and part of that goodness is your love for the Lord.One can be bad and use religion as the shield to hide behind.A true believer with goodness in the heart, is going to put others first, and in so doing would never do anything to hurt the church or others.

yellowhouse 9 years ago

What we do for ourselves alone with us diesBut what we have done for others is where our immortality lies!

Paul R Getto 9 years ago

We are biologically programmed for altruism; spirituality predated religion, which began as explanations of the unknown then evolved into politics and power over the ignorant and powerless. The attempt to separate religion and government represents the genius of our founders.

bondmen 9 years ago

"And Jesus said to him (the rich young ruler) 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except G_d alone'" from Luke (the physician) 18:19.The Jew, Paul wrote in Romans 7:18-19 "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want."

Jennifer Forth 9 years ago

“And Jesus said to him (the rich young ruler) 'Why do you call Me good? No one is good except G_d alone'” Heresay.

bondmen 9 years ago

"Marc Hauser - Harvard - it's all part of our evolutionary heritage and has nothing to do with religion, as much as religion would like to take credit for it. There are people who can be completely open and caring and not believe in superstition."It's your evolutionary heritage sweety. I have yet to find a family photo with a monkey in it but there are missing spaces where abortions left a place. It is sad to say.Shesay. You don't say? You do say! Do see do and buffalo burgers.

Mixolydian 9 years ago

Made_in_China (Paul R. Getto) says… We are biologically programmed for altruism;========================Really? When was that gene discovered? You sure couldn't tell by reading this paper, watching the news, or walking out your door.

TheStig 9 years ago

Can a person be ‘good’ without also being spiritual? Yes and vice versa.

Satirical 9 years ago

The responses from Lackrone and Tiechtel were very well written. I especially like Tiechtel's comments.DonnieDarko....(Assuming for arguments sake the people you listed are bad). If you are suggesting the people you named would miraculously (pun intended) be better people without religion has no basis in logic or reality. People who are bad can use any instrument or tool to achieve their purpose, even religion. The wolf in sheep's clothing are the one's we must be ever vigilant against and are capable of doing the most harm. Religion didn't make these people bad, religion was was the instrument they used to achieve their bad purposes.Your examples would likely fall into the category of someone coming close to God with their lips, but not with their hearts. In other words or spirituality, could make then better if they actually embrace it with their hearts.

alm77 9 years ago

the animal is bigger than I thought...

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years ago

Can a person eat 'food' without also being victual?

jonas_opines 9 years ago

"Sickening fool, why don't you get an education."Haven't you been paying attention? The public schools are just another liberal conspiracy to preach the fairy tale of Evolution and distract from the Truth of the Bible.

Paul Decelles 9 years ago

Notice how everyone jumps to equating spirituality with religion. I don't think they are the same thing at all. Spirituality to me means that you have a sense of introspection and empathy. My suspicion is that these are critical parts of being good...maybe necessary but not sufficient.

bondmen 9 years ago

Defender, are you so sensitive about your religion that we cannot possibly discuss it even in a religious/spiritual venue?Maybe you missed that BuffyloGal mentioned "evolutionary heritage" so I merely responded. Excuse me!Now, show me again how educated you are.

Confrontation 9 years ago

Can a person be ‘good’ without also being spiritual?Sure, as long as you keep sending a check to your priest.

Connacht 9 years ago

Saying that you are "spiritual" just means that you are making up your own religion. Though that's probably unfair because that's what every religious person does anyway.

Connacht 9 years ago

"There has to be an internal need or desire to consider others when acting which I consider to be in the realm of spirituality."Why exactly does the consideration of other people fall within the realm of "spirituality", which is one of the most ill-defined terms I've ever encountered? Every person I've ever met who considers themselves "spiritual" is just some know-it-all college kid drinking a latte on Mass street majoring in creative writing. We could really have a serious discussion on what it means to be "good" or "evil" or something in-between. Instead we get a bunch of people who are convinced that they have the final word on the matter, and can't seem to figure out why every other person in the world just can't figure it out.

craigers 9 years ago

You certainly can do good things without being spiritual or having a relationship with Christ. Seems like a silly question.

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