A Theological Reimagining Of Altruism

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Sanjay Anand Raj G J


The concept of altruism was first introduced by A. Comte which remained problematic despite a number of analyses. The crucial question as to what the relationship is between the good for other and good for oneself as a classic question of the relationship between altruism and egoism. This classic question has led many theologians and philosophers to envisage whether altruism is only a one-way act of giving from the side of one associated with a one-way act of taking from the side of another, and whether this the end of the act or it is reciprocity. However, this classical question has unattained philosophical and logical answer. In light with this classical question, has provoked me to explore it more from a theological dimension. The theme embarks us to revision which is existing, that is the concept of altruism to be re-visioned. The term re- visioning is the act of doing some revision, in other words the act or process of revising, which simply implies it is the process of revisioning what is existing. To revision altruism it requires to move beyond from the existing or transcend from the existing position, which is the concept of Kenosis therefore theologising this helps us to reimagine altruism theologically. self-interess

Transcending antails surpassing one’s personal desire, needs, and concerns to prioritize the well- being of others or strive for a higher purpose The concept commonly associated with altruism compassion, and soffiessness, in religious and philosophical traditions, the notion of transcending self- interest considered to be a noble and virtuous pursuit, reflecting a commitment to the welfare of others and an acknowledgment of Interconnectediness and mutual responsibility. It can also be perceived as a spintual practice that fosters personal growth and a deeper understanding of the human experience.

To transcend self-interest, individuals must develop empathy and compassion towards others comprehending By and empathizing with the needs and emotions of others, individuals can make choices that henefit the broader community rather than solely focusing themselves, Acting in the best interest of others, even wihen there is no immediate personal gain, can lead to greater fulfilment and satisfaction. By engaging in community service and offering assistance to these in need,own self-interest and play a role in creating a more harmonious society. To explore it further the below two important aspects helps us to explore the theme with different theological dimension.

1 Theological Praxis

The practical implementation of theological beliefs and principles in real life scenarios is referred to as theological praxis, it encompasses the active implementation of faith, whereby individuals actualize their religious convictions through concrete actions and behaviours. Theological praxis serves as a way to embody and express one’s faith in a concrete and meaningful manner. The application of theological praxis has the potential to serve as a potentinstrumentin envisioning and revitalizing altruism. it offers a structure through which Individuals can comprehend the underlying significance and Intentionality of benevolent actions and empathy. Through anchoring altruistic conduct in theological precepts and ethics, Individuals are able to nurture a more profound and limpactful approach to altruism that is firmly grounded in their spiritual ideologies and beliefs. in the realm of reimagining selflessness, theological praxis encompasses the integration of theological perspectives on selflessness into one’s actions and interactions with others. This may involve employing religious teachings or ethical principles to guide and inform selfless behaviour, actively engaging in acts of service or charity as a means of living out one’s faith, and reflecting on how theological beliefs shape and influence one’s approach to selflessness. Revisioning altruism through theological praxis goes beyond mere discussion or theoretical contemplation. It necessitates active engagement withaltruism In practical ways to explore how it can be reimagined, redefined, expanded, or improved upon. This may involve the implementation of new strategies to promote altruism, questioning existing norms or assumptions about altruistic behaviour or non-altruistic behaviour, and actively seeking opportunities to test and refine these ideas through practical action. James Cone while describing Black theology states no Christian theology could exist if it does not inentify with the bumiliated ad abused” therefore we nid to put our discussion lectures and teachings in praxis all teachings and lects must not be confined to ou lassrooms, seminars and urch but extend to the sorty, to the marginalized immunities, abused beings, numiliated Individuals and communities. Hence our theology must be in praxis, therefore, theological praxis in the context of revisioning altruism emphasize the importance of actively engaging with and applying the thoughts, ideas and approaches to altruism in order to create positive change and promote a more effective and meaningful practice of altruistic behaviour


De-othering is the concept that highlights the importance of acknowledging and respecting the humanity and dignity of individuals who have been marginalized, stereotyped, or dehumanized. This concept involves breaking down the barriers that separate different groups and communities and so called “us” and “them”. These barriers and divisions are broken byde-othering which recognizes the common humanity that unites all individuals. In the context of revisioning altruism, de-othering holds utmost significance as it paves the way for fostering a more comprehensive and empathetic approach towards assisting others. By breaking the walls that separate individuals on the grounds of dissimilarities like race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or socio-economic status, people can nurture a profound understanding and bond with those who require aid.

2 De-othering

De-othering involves seeing beyond superficial differences and recognizing the inherent worth and dignity of every individual. It requires actively listening to so called others’ stories, experiences, and perspectives, and working to dismantle stereotypes and prejudices that may hinder genuine understanding and compassion. By de-othering, Individuals can foster a more inclusive and equitable approach to helping others, rooted in a genuine recognition of shared humanity and a commitment to justice and solidarity. This process can lead to more meaningful and sustainable forms of support and empowerment for those in need, as well as contribute to building a more compassionate and just society. To reimagine altruism, de-othering provides space to look for commonality that underpin Christian theology such as love, compassion, justice, and forgiveness, towards those who are marginalized, and subjugated on the various ground day to day.


The theological relmagining of altruism through the lens of transcending self-interest offers a profound exploration of the interconnectedness between individual well-being and the welfare of others. This re-visioning, prompted by the theme “Re-visioning Altruism, urges a shift from conventional perspectives and calls for a deeper understanding rooted In theological dimensions. The concept of theological praxis emphasizes the practical Implementation of altruistic beliefs, guiding Individuals to embody selflessness in tangible ways. By integrating theological principles into actions and engaging with altruism actively, Individuals can create a more impactful and meaningful approach, grounded in spiritual ideologies. Furthermore, the notion of de othering is crucial in breaking down societal barriers, fostering empathy, and recognizing the shared humanity that unites us all. By acknowledging the dignity of marginalized Individuais and actively dismantling stereotypes, a more inclusive and compassionate approach to altruism can be cultivated, contributing to a just and equitable society. The theological reimagining of altruism Invites Individuals to go beyond theoretical contemplation and actively engage with altruistic practices. It advocates fora transformative journey that transcends self- interest, integrates theological principles into everyday actions, and promotes a more inclusive and compassionate society. In this pursuit, theology becomes a lived experience, extending beyond classrooms and churches to actively contribute to positive change in the wider community.

Sanjay Anand Raj G J

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