thought traps

82 | Slay the Giant Killer Duty Robot I

Move over, Goliath, we got a Giant Killer Duty Robot to slay here. Good thing we are getting lots of help from Dominican Fr. Servais Pinckaers, who wrote a lot of the encyclical Veritatis Splendor and the Catechism of the Catholic Church with John Paul II.  Servais calls the robot “Moral Obligation Theory.” He traces its roots back to the 15th and 16th centuries. It’s a theory that has become a “lens” that most of us modern Christians use most of the time when we think about morals – it’s so powerful we don’t even know we are looking through it!  As with most thought distortions, it takes something that’s good and takes it out of context, elevating it to have a priority that’s misplaced in most circumstances. Moral obligation theory is a giant killer robot because it’s a joy killer. Servais is very clear: this theory stinks and does not help us. If dealing with God makes you feel miserable, or you feel like your entire life is grinding out one duty after another, you might be laboring under this theory of moral obligation. 

In this Episode

The Sources of Christian Ethics, Servais Pinckaers

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