Being Commanded by God: Katharsis for Righteousness

Document Type : Research Paper


Professor, Department of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA.


Many people in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic monotheistic traditions testify to their experience of being commanded by God to do something or to be a certain way. Is this kind of testimony from experience credible in some cases, and, if so, on what ground? The main thesis of this article is that it is credible in some cases and a suitable ground is available in the morally purifying experience of the human conscience. The article looks to the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and the Qur’an for relevant testimony to the importance of righteous divine commanding experienced by humans. The relevant commands are not abstract or merely theoretical but grounded in human moral experience and potentially motivating for righteous action. The article doubts that God would be God if there were no divine commanding given directly to receptive people in their moral experience. It contends that God would not be a morally righteous guide of the divine kind needed for the worthiness of worship by humans in the absence of God’s commanding people directly in their experience.


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