The guise of altruistic emotions

But one cannot make a greater error than to identify the spiritual love of one who knows the Truth with altruistic emotions and the striving for the “good of mankind,” a striving that, at best, is grounded in natural sympathy or in abstract ideas. For “love” in this sense, which we call “Judaic,” everything begins and ends in empirical works, the value of which is determined by their visible effect. But for spiritual love, or love in the Christian sense, this value is only tinsel. Even moral activity (philanthropy and so on) is, taken in itself, an absolute zero. What is desirable is not the outward appearance, not the “skin,” of special activities, but life full of grace, which overflows in every creative act of a person. But “skin” as “skin,” the empirical outward appearance as such, can always be falsified. No age dares to deny that there are “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ,” that even “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11 13-14).
Fr. Pavel Florensky


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