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Addressing Iron Age Biblical Morality

19 Feb
from Google Images

from Google Images

In Chris’ video Problems with Biblical Morality (HERE), he addresses issues concerning the Bible, which at least from the point of his worldview are antiquated and contradictory. He begins by showing an excerpt presumably from a Christian evangelist’s video where the Christian is discussing morality from a Biblical perspective with two young men who may be on a college campus. Chris reveals his perspective by saying the Christian evangelist was presenting a false dilemma—which would be that the Christian was saying morality must be the result of relativism or it comes from the God of the Bible.

Chris presents his position, believing he has made a good case in his video, Deconversion: Morality (HERE), that morality exists apart from God. It doesn’t. The position the Bible takes is God created man in God’s image, and he intends that man would have a good relationship with God. This would mean we would come to act like God. The problem is that in Eden we rebelled from God by deciding that we could know and decide upon what is good and evil. We cannot, at least we cannot know it as well as we are intended to come to know it, and if we cannot know good and evil perfectly, we won’t be able to act morally all the time.

Chris believes morality is something mankind can come to know as though it were something that existed by itself, like gravity. Nevertheless, this position is illogical. All nations disagree as to what morality is, but if it is something physical, like gravity, how could we disagree so widely concerning what constitutes moral behavior? Ultimately men believe that we, by ourselves, are able to decide upon what is moral and what is not. Nevertheless, according to the Bible, only God is able to do that. This is the Biblical perspective that Chris fails to understand.

Chris lists three problems he has with the Biblical perspective:

  1. The Bible contradicts itself on moral issues.
  2. It has no conflict resolution strategy.
  3. The Bible doesn’t’ address modern moral issues.

Concerning issues arising from position #1, Chris says that in Exodus 20:13 the Bible outlaws killing, but in Numbers 15:32-36 someone is stoned for working on the Sabbath. What Chris fails to understand is the Law was not given as a code of ethics for individuals. It was part of the nations’ constitution. People were not to murder anyone, but the state (the people collectively) had the responsibility to punish, which may include executing, persons among themselves who didn’t obey the constitutional law of the land. We, in America do the same thing. While it is against the law to kill another person, it is the responsibility of the state to punish (sometimes killing) those who break that law. Exercising legal judgment is not a contradiction.

Chris further implies contradiction in that God commanded Israel to kill others, i.e. those belonging to other nations. Again, Chris is missing the point from the Biblical perspective. In one of his videos in his Why I Am No Longer a Christian series, he rightly says one can never properly address an opposing argument unless one is willing to see that argument from his opponent’s point of view. In other words merely saying the Bible contradicts itself isn’t enough, unless in saying so one is able to show it from his opponent’s perspective. In most instances the argument, that the Bible contradicts itself concerning killing others, is like saying the United States has a law against killing, but it contradicts that position by telling its military to kill its enemies in war. The point is, Israel had enemies, and those enemies thought to destroy Israel. God not only permitted Israel to kill their enemies in their own defense, he commanded Israel to meet them in war so that God, the Judge of the earth, could judge that other nation through Israel, thus making it known to all nations that God was their Judge—Israel being the only nation called by God’s name.

Concerning Chris’ second point, namely, no conflict resolution strategy, meaning the Bible has no basis whereby it can resolve these contradictions. Chris claims some have advocated that some Old Testament verses have been repealed. My position is that nothing has been repealed. The Bible is the word of God, period. God originally gave Israel their constitution. This is not the constitution of any other nation, and the New Testament doesn’t demand other nations to adopt Israel’s constitution. They have their own, although no one lives by the one they have. The Gospel is intended to work within the laws of all nations. While nothing has been repealed per se, all things in the Bible don’t apply today, simply because the Torah was Israel’s constitution, and other nations have their own constitutional laws. Christians are commanded to live as good citizens under whatever laws are binding in the nation we find ourselves a part.

Concerning Chris’ third point that the Bible doesn’t address modern moral issues, well first we would have to decide which issues are moral ones. Some of what Chris brought up, like false dmca’s,[1] free speech and the environment are not moral issues. They are modern social issues, some of which are very serious, but one doesn’t become moral or immoral through their practice or non-practice. Breaking a law might be another matter, but these issues themselves are amoral. Abortion, on the other hand, is a moral issue, which the Bible does address but not completely. Nevertheless, one might be surprised to know what the Bible does say about it. Things like stem cell research and cloning are probably moral issues, but mankind has decided to know his morality or immorality by himself. If we won’t return to God and cease our rebellion against him concerning those moral issues that are revealed in his word, why would anyone suppose God would reveal his will concerning modern difficult issues such as these?

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[1] DMCA is Digital Millennium Copyright Act. A false dmca is probably a false claim against copyright infringement.

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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in atheism, naturalism

 

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