Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Moral goodness derives from a faith in the perfection and purpose of an eternal Spirit, whose nature is infinite, perfect, and benevolent. Fichte does not turn to organized or traditional religion or to the Scriptures for his moral guidance. He comes to his faith through a rational examination of the nature of the human intellect, which uses reason, intuition, and inference to discover the nature and extent of human knowledge. Although his understanding is based on indirect knowledge, through his inner responses to sensuous experiences, Fichte posits a world outside his own mind, and he believes that growth and renewal in the natural world mirror a similar progress in the spiritual realm, through which humans, by virtue of their innate moral conscience, are allied.

Unlike the objects in the natural world, humans are not the product of cause and effect, Fichte argues. Because humans have the freedom to think and act, they are capable of improvement, and their nature is such that they grow toward perfection, guided by their moral conscience, which mediates between them and the eternal Spirit. Humans are by their nature good, or strive to be good, because they are part of the eternal Spirit, but they must have faith in the divine Spirit, which, through each person’s moral conscience, guides humans toward goodness. In the natural world, of which humans are a part, death and birth signify endless renewal; in the spiritual realm, all humans share a common alliance with the divine Spirit and progress toward a state of perfection.

It is humankind’s vocation to obey the moral conscience steadfastly. Fichte’s faith and morality are not sectarian, but they are consistent with Christian principles and practices in the sense that the individual is guided toward a state of spiritual perfection by a faith in an all-powerful Spirit whose divinity is unquestioned. Self-examination is the basis of Fichte’s faith, and his reasoning guides him to a spiritual awareness very much like the awakening of the Christian seeker. Through philosophical reasoning, Fichte comes to the spiritual awareness, and faith, that a devoted Christian might discover in biblical study.