—“Can you elaborate on how you see Jesus as having extended natural law into a via-positiva? I’ve seen you describe Jesus’ contribution as providing the underclass access to virtue by way of excessive forgiveness. If the forgiveness is admittedly excessive, isn’t this a violation of reciprocity?”—James Hargraves
The natural law of reciprocity tells us what’s negative – what not to do. Christian charity tells us what positive – what to do: forgive until baiting into cooperation doesn’t work. So Christian forgiveness provides the via Positiva for natural law.
- Do not unto others, what they would not have done unto them.
- Do unto others only as you would have done unto you;
- Forgive what others do unto you – until you know better.
This third charge is the uniqueness of Christianity. The first two which Christians claim are universal in all cultures, and always have been.
The prisoner’s dilemma is the thought experiment (and the computer model we use) for testing game theories of cooperation and the incentive to trust (or cheat).
Exhaustive forgiveness (tit-for-tat) solves the prisoner’s dilemma game. In other words, it is the optimum strategy for identifying and sorting the pervasively immoral from the potentially moral. In almost all cases, including the most addicted and criminal, people who are not otherwise mentally ill, will eventually fall to ‘seduction’ into cooperation.
Christianity produced both i) this trust between people, and ii) limited tribal and familial retaliation cycles that plagued the ancient world, and iii) made more complex polities, then iv) more complex trade, and business possible because people just stopped cheating one another first and cooperated trustfully first – at least in northern Europe (not southern). Even in the middle east if it didn’t increase trust it cut retaliation cycles – hence old Lebanon’s advantage in the area.
This is why Protestant Christianity produces commons-based wealth: it makes everyone forgiving and brings into being what we think of as commercial ethics. And why Catholic and Orthodox Christianity create peaceful reasonably trusting commons (not governments). Both Catholic and Orthodox fail at the problem of politics. Protestant hasn’t although it appears to be a function of germanic military tradition not differences in Christian teaching.
Christianity does not do its work without the military and militia (germanic north). Catholic Christianity was profoundly corrupt – and no different from Marxist-pomo schools and universities today. This isn’t true of Protestantism which because of local funding makes corruption very difficult, or orthodoxy, which assisted rather than fought with and competed with the state and the people.