A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Me and Russell Talk Morality

I have been thinking through ethics a bit here and there and I thought I would use a few quotes from the famous 1948 BBC exchange/debate between Bertrand Russell and Frederick Copleston to expand a bit on my current thinking on morality.

The following portion is from their discussion on morality.

R: You see, I feel that some things are good and that other things are bad. I love the things that are good, that I think are good, and I hate the things that I think are bad. I don't say that these things are good because they participate in the Divine goodness.

C: Yes, but what's your justification for distinguishing between good and bad or how do you view the distinction between them?

R: I don't have any justification any more than I have when I distinguish between blue and yellow. What is my justification for distinguishing between blue and yellow? I can see they are different.

C: Well, that is an excellent justification, I agree. You distinguish blue and yellow by seeing them, so you distinguish good and bad by what faculty?

R: By my feelings.

C: By your feelings. Well, that's what I was asking. You think that good and evil have reference simply to feeling?

At this point, I tend to agree more with Russell than with Copleston. I think that the moral sense is more fundamental to morality than is any so-called "moral law," if such a thing even exists.

The majority of Christian moral philosophy in the 20th century took its ques from the likes of C.S. Lewis. That is, they believed that morality was most fundamentally a moral law that somehow came from God. Our sense of morality, then, is merely our sense of the moral law, which exists timelessly, universally, and absolutely somewhere in some strange world of abstraction.

But what if morality is most fundamentally a sense that human beings have? In this case, then perhaps the various moral laws and moral judgments we make are merely our attempt to objectively define and culturally work out what we subjectively sense. It might be like an artist who attempts to produce on canvas the art that is within; or the poet who puts uses words to express the artistic impulses.

So, perhaps when Christians begin with "moral law" they are hurting their own cause and unwittingly weakening their own theological basis. For example, it seems quite obvious to me that if you remove morality from within and take it out to some abstract place called "Universal Moral Law," then you cheapen the sense in which morality is intimately connected with our inner workings. If I am correct in the general direction of my thinking on morality, then we need not be ashamed to look within for moral truth rather than trying to locate an abstract and supposedly universal moral law somewhere in the abstract world. (Can somebody please tell me where these universal moral laws are? I always picture them hanging like a picture or an article of clothing out somewhere deep in outer space!)

Of course, there will always be the dooms dayers who push the RELATIVISM PANIC BUTTON!. They begin to hyperventilate if they don't have their absolute moral laws ready at hand. Without the moral law, they say, all society and culture is on the brink of utter devastation: "A worldview that does not have an objective moral standard, one that has 'values' instead of 'laws,' seems doomed to destruction." [from The Moral Law]

Even at this point in my discussion, however, I must note that the traditional subjective/objective distinction will probably breakdown (as all good dichotomies do in philosophy!). After all, what we call "right" and what we call "wrong" is also conditioned very strongly (if not exclusively) by our society/culture and how we interact with it. Recent Christian orthodoxy feels uneasy with this kind of talk. Let's go back to the Copleston-Russell debate again:

C: Well, I brought in moral obligation because I think that one can approach the question of God's existence in that way. The vast majority of the human race will make, and always have made, some distinction between right and wrong. The vast majority I think has some consciousness of an obligation in the moral sphere. It's my opinion that the perception of values and the consciousness of moral law and obligation are best explained through the hypothesis of a transcendent ground of value and of an author of the moral law. I do mean by "author of the moral law" an arbitrary author of the moral law. I think, in fact, that those modern atheists who have argued in a converse way "there is no God; therefore, there are no absolute values and no absolute law," are quite logical.

R: I don't like the word "absolute." I don't think there is anything absolute whatever. The moral law, for example, is always changing. At one period in the development of the human race, almost everybody thought cannibalism was a duty.

Again, I tend to agree more with Russell. I don't like the word "absolute" when referring to morality. I don't necessarily deny moral absolutes, but they seem a bit pointless. As I said, morality is most fundamentally a subjective sense. As such, the point of the moral life is to not to run around in circles trying to philosophize as to what and where moral absolutes are. Instead, the moral life should focus its energy on cultivating the moral sense. (Where I disagree with Russell, of course, is that I believe that God is an active agent in this process of cultivation.)

So, if the point of morality is to to cultivate the subjective sense, then where does this happen??? Well, in interacting with others. So, we don't waste our time trying to establish absolute moral laws; rather, we engage one another and use the moral standards of our culture to begin the process of doing good. So, what is "good" is something that is not merely a subjective sense but the actions and attitudes I have as I relate and engage other moral beings like myself. To me, this kind of common sense approach aligns more with the street level ethics in the Bible, particularly I am thinking about the book of James:

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James chapter 1)

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (James chapter 2)

Morality is not just a subjective sense, but a subjective sense that is dependent on living in relationship with others. There is a complex relationship at work here that we cannot entirely explain, but that is the point: the life of the good is a devoted life process of cultivating their moral sense in relation to those around them. Perhaps if our Protestant Fathers had worried more about this and worried less about idolizing their doctrine, then maybe they would not have murdered so many of their own brothers and sisters in the faith.

My view of ethics does not just stop at a "that feels good to me" level. Quite the contrary. We should engage in moral debate (and rigorously!); but we engage each other not to get at the moral absolutes but to discern what is good for the here and now as we relate with each other and with God. We must objectify our morality and take moral stands on issues, e.g., "the hijackers who flew their plans into the two towers in NYC did an evil thing," "the invasion of Iraq was not morally justified," "all cases of abortion are categorically unjustified killing," or "a same sex relationship is an appropriate marital relationship and should not be banned or discouraged."

There are many specific issues that require moral judgment, what some might call practical ethics. Debating these issues helps sharpen our moral sense. But, of course, beyond these political issues are also issues of our own actions and the motivations that drive them. These are the Moment-of-Truth-type questions; these are cleaning-the-mirror-type questions. For the cultivation of "truth in the inner parts" and purity of heart, we need others to peer within and examine our lives with discernment, maturity, and love.....and, I agree with Paul: we don't need Law, we need the power of the Spirit. (Galatians 5)

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

The trouble begins with the three presumptions at the root of Western culture altogether, all of which are a projection of a fundamental psychotic split in our being. And which via multiple feedback processes reinforce the primary psychotic split---or rather multiple splits.

Altogether these presumptions produce a dreadfully sane every-person who is incapable of being responsible for his/her presence & actions in the world.

These presumptions are that we are inherently separate from God (the Divine Radiance), the world process, and each other.

Where there is an other fear arises---is a statement from one of the Upanishads.

We thus have a fear saturated "culture".

That having been said please check out these references beginning with a critique of the emotionally primitive mommy-daddy "creator" god of exoteric religion.

www.aboutadidam.org/readings/parental_deity/index.html

www.dabase.org/2armP1.htm#ch2

www.dabase.org/spacetim.htm

Plus 2 sites which describe the inevitable consequences of a "culture" saturated in fear and inhabited/driven by the dreadfully sane emotionally crippled every-person.

1. www.coteda.com
2. www.ispeace723.org

samlcarr said...

The Erdman does it again! Thought provoking, and I too agree that Russel is closer to the bible here. That said, there is something like "an absolute" in our gospel which is Jesus himself. Not in the sense of rules and regulations or any meta analysis of "the good" but rather in a life that demands placing the best interest of others above one's own little self.

It goes further in that in discipleship we are to even value others above ourselves. That means that we have to value ourselves very highly as God's children and others even more - not the self denigrating sort of muck that usually parades as 'goodness'.

When we open our eyes to the gospel story, there can be little doubt about what 'best interest' could possibly mean!

daniel said...

Nice comment Sam. Jon's been on a roll with this theme in his characteristically unassuming way. I'm pondering it all.

Does anonymous above have the moral high ground?

Jonathan Erdman said...

Thnx Sam/Daniel.

A thought on your comment, Sam: That said, there is something like "an absolute" in our gospel which is Jesus himself. Not in the sense of rules and regulations or any meta analysis of "the good" but rather in a life that demands placing the best interest of others above one's own little self.

Jesus certainly does seem to present himself in absolute terms. In Modern Conservative Theology this translates into the absolute of the message of Christ, expressed in propositional terms. For example, Jesus was the truth because he spoke the truth. Even though I think this is horrible exegesis, most conservative commentaries on John (see esp., 14:6 "I am the way, the truth, the life") usually pan out in this way (with the notable exception of C.H. Dodd and Leon Morris). The "truth" is the Gospel proposition of justification by grace through faith in the sacrificial atonement of Jesus Christ, etc....

The Liberal approach would seem to be somewhat similar, in my opinion, although I am less familiar with Modern Liberal Theology than I am with Conservative approaches. But it seems as though the Liberal approach would be to define Jesus' absoluteness in terms of social justice.

The Modern theologian I resonate most with at this point in his interpretation of Jesus is Bultmann. I think it is the strong Heideggerian influence. Bultmann is often defined as a Liberal, but I think this may be an overgeneralization. I also believe that too much emphasis has been placed on the relation between Bultmann's analysis of the "historicity" of the Gospel accounts and his theology. In my opinion, there is much of B's commentary on the Gospel of John (and his interpretation of Jesus' work and message) that should be analyzed on its own, apart from B's stance on the historicity of the narrative and/or his cut-and-paste approach to reconstructing the Gospel of John.

daniel said...

"Everybody knows that they are guilty" (Sung by Lauryn Hill, on the song Freedom from the live unplugged album.)

When you talk about a feeling/sense for what is good, are you talking about the flip side of the sin-consciousness that Christ died to free us from Jon?

Modern morality teaches that guilty feelings are bad, but in the Bible we read that is how we know we need a saviour.

In modern morality, you feel guilty for feeling guilty (ala anonymous above). In Christianity, guilt feelings are the first stirring of a sin-stricken conscience awakening to the sweetness of God's love.

ktismatics said...

Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? Here in 1 Cor. 11:14 Paul has a moral feeling about men's hair. He's an apostle and his words are canonized in Christian scripture. Do you think his moral intuition is right?

Here's one from Aristotle: The master is only the master of the slave; he does not belong to him, whereas the slave is not only the slave of his master, but wholly belongs to him. Hence we see what is the nature and office of a slave; he who is by nature not his own but another's man, is by nature a slave; and he may be said to be another's man who, being a human being, is also a possession... From the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, others for rule.

Aristotle introduced this proclamation by acknowledging that some regard slavery as an artifact of human society; others, as an intrinsic part of the natural order. He opts for the latter -- it's intuitively evident that it's naturally right for some to be slaves and others to be masters. Aristotle offers similar proclamations about a natural dominance hierarchy between women and men, a view to which Paul also subscribes four centuries later.

I think we've had this disagreement before: the intuitive sense of right and wrong is often shaped by unconscious cultural biases. Further, even if it was possible to get to a truly natural intuition, would that make the intuition a right one? At this point you're conflating natural morality with instinctive impulse. So if it's naturally intuitive for a man to try and impregnate as many women as he can in order to extend his genetic lineage into future generations, is this a morally right outlook or a biological urge? Or are they the same thing in your intuitive morality?

daniel said...

"Twas Grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fear relieved"

Jon, the main disagreement I have with your point of view is that you seem to equate our human concept of good with God's goodness. Man's concept of good leads to pride and sin. God's goodness is infathomable to the unregenerated soul.

God made the brutal killing of His Son good - but it did not appear so to the disciples. Even when "bad" things happen to God's people, He says he will work it for good. So God's good is far beyond our concept of morality. In my view there is no similarity between our moral systems and God's goodness. I agree with Kt that morality rests on the shifting sands of culture.

Right now in the world we live in one of the most outrageously immoral acts is to try and convert someone to your point of view, or to say that someone is in danger of eternal destruction because of their unbelief.

Indeed, many people in the pride of their moral judgement reject God because the idea of eternal punishment for sin appears wrong and evil.

The goodness of God leads to repentance - His goodness challenges our prideful attempts at being good, because it is so much better. The law helps us to recognize our insufficiency - that's why we need Jesus.

We need to repent, change our minds, and follow God not our own innate (sinful) nature.

ktismatics said...

"So God's good is far beyond our concept of morality."

In the quote from 1 Cor. 11 Paul proclaims short hair on men as a moral good, which he justifies not only on his spiritual authority but on natural human knowledge. I suspect that contemporary evangelicalism is prepared to dismiss Paul's contention here as referring to a particular historical-cultural context that no longer applies. But his argument isn't from culture; it's from nature.

In this same passage Paul appeals to nature in order to argue for a morally right hierarchy of authority: God, then men, then women. Woman was created for man, not vice versa; woman originated from man, not vice versa; man is the image and glory of God, while woman is the glory of man. Again, the contemporary church is going to contend that Paul was making an argument that was relevant to the local cultural scene. But that's not how he frames his argument. He argues from the created order that precedes culture, and that presumably establishes universal conditions for a morally good culture.

If even the apostle Paul could be confused between moral intuition and cultural bias, isn't it likely that we are too? Even a Christian's purportedly regenerated intuition isn't above suspicion, second-guessing, psychoanalysis, etc.

daniel said...

Law and Order

Good point Kt. Blows the cultural objection to Paul's teaching out the water.

But I'm thinking, maybe Paul is grounding his argument in an understanding of natural order i.e. cosmos and chaos (conversant with Greek philosophy). In many of the passages of 1 Cor he speaks of order in the Church, this seems to be his concern.

It is difficult for us to relate to this in our social/philosophical/political context. We no longer share Paul's value for order, because for us order is our personal safety and security, order is protection from disorder defined as what we fear, i.e. order has a negative meaning as the absence or prevention of disorder. Or what do you make of our contemporary idea of order Kt - do we even value order truly speaking? Don't we relish disorder, try and dress it up and make it look good?

Analyse! I'm all ears, and interested in what you would say.

A question for Jon - how do you respond to this scripture:

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the Law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:56-57

Jonathan Erdman said...

I think you are right, Ktismatics. But let me know if you find some points that need to be clarified and fleshed out a bit more.

Ktismatics: I think we've had this disagreement before: the intuitive sense of right and wrong is often shaped by unconscious cultural biases. Further, even if it was possible to get to a truly natural intuition, would that make the intuition a right one? At this point you're conflating natural morality with instinctive impulse. So if it's naturally intuitive for a man to try and impregnate as many women as he can in order to extend his genetic lineage into future generations, is this a morally right outlook or a biological urge? Or are they the same thing in your intuitive morality?

I think your instinct(!) here is correct. The "moral sense" that we have is not in and of itself an absolute, at least not on my view. It is not "relative" or "absolute": it is just there, a sense that there is right and wrong. Neither is the moral sense grounded in some kind of natural or instinct that is absolute.

The moral sense, as I am developing it, is simply the sense that some things are right and some things are wrong. We just sense something morally wrong with a child being violently raped and killed. It offends us at a very deep level. I think Russell and I would agree on that.

You are right about Paul, as well, I think. Paul does frame many things in a sort of universal or absolute way, and yet these things are clearly not absolutes or universals. I think even Paul himself recognizes this.

I don't think that for Paul a "universal" was a "universal" in the same Modern sense that we think of it. Paul's hermeneutic was flexible. When he used the OT, he was working (I think) from the particular (the situation in context, e.g., women should be silent in the church) to the universal ("Adam was created first"). The OT, then, was not a storehouse of absolutes that Paul used to apply to specific contexts (the way in which contemporary conservatives like to look at the Bible). On the contrary, Paul applied the specific context to the absolutes. Paul's advice on men-women relations was illustrated by the "universal" illustration of "Adam was created first."

On the heels of Modernity, we can only see the hermeneutic operating one way: Paul must have been using the "absolutes" and "universals" of the OT and applying them to the specific contexts. As harsh as it may sound to Modern exegetes, the reality was that in some situations Paul was applying the specific contexts to the OT. I describe this hermeneutic as a "dynamic dialogue," and it is more at home with post Moderns.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Daniel, you said: But I'm thinking, maybe Paul is grounding his argument in an understanding of natural order i.e. cosmos and chaos (conversant with Greek philosophy).

Okay. I think this might be possible; I think there may be some of this involved with Paul's theology.

Daniel: Jon, the main disagreement I have with your point of view is that you seem to equate our human concept of good with God's goodness. Man's concept of good leads to pride and sin. God's goodness is infathomable to the unregenerated soul.

God made the brutal killing of His Son good - but it did not appear so to the disciples. Even when "bad" things happen to God's people, He says he will work it for good. So God's good is far beyond our concept of morality. In my view there is no similarity between our moral systems and God's goodness. I agree with Kt that morality rests on the shifting sands of culture.


This may be. But if this is the case, then it makes God's morality irrelevant. The more we remove "God's goodness" from this world and place it in the abstract the less meaning it has for us. This is true by definition. For example, if God's goodness is so far beyond me that I cannot comprehend it, then it won't matter to me! Why? Because I can't comprehend it! I am only responsible for what I can comprehend.

I do agree with you that "God's ways are not our ways," but God does respect our own sense of right and wrong as we apply it in a sincere way. God respected Job's questioning of God's justice. God established his right to do as he pleases, but in the end he commended Job and said that Job had "spoken rightly." Job learned that God's ways were not his ways, but he stuck to his convictions and in the end he was vindicated.

daniel said...

Hi Jon. I like your summary of Job's rightness: being true to himself. One gets the sense of how much God really loves Job even when He is rebuking Job at the end, its kind of gentle and even playful in a thuderous and awesome way.

I like Job's attitude: "I know my redeemer lives". Job says even if I can't make my own case before God, I know that there will be a way. The implication: God will make a way.

Jesus is this way. He is our new covenant, our mediator. I do believe that God's goodness is far away from us Jon... but we can get there through Jesus - and in no other way. Not by any innate moral sense - that is the broad way to destruction imo.

Russel said in the original post: I don't like the word "absolute." I don't think there is anything absolute whatever. The moral law, for example, is always changing. At one period in the development of the human race, almost everybody thought cannibalism was a duty.


Even when it's uncomfortable, the Bible speaks to us in absolutes. Throughout the scriptures, the absolute absolute is love. "make love your great quest..." (1 Corinthians 14:1).

When I became a Christian, I realized that everything I thought was love before being saved was just selfishness. The main reason I converted to Christianity was because I recognised true love in Jesus and His bride, the Church.

Does this mean I've overcome selfishness? NO! But at least now I know I have the problem of selfishness, and the tendency to conceal the problem with fake love and goodness, plus I know that the only solution to the problem is to keep following Jesus, no matter how tough it gets.

Ktismatics reserves the right to second-guess Christians. Absolutely! Christianity does not give us special knowledge of what is good, however it replaces our belief in our own goodness with faith in God through Jesus. There is a big difference. Christians should be second-guessing themselves constantly!

Paul calls it putting no confidence in the flesh.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Daniel, Can you define "love"?

You said: Even when it's uncomfortable, the Bible speaks to us in absolutes. Throughout the scriptures, the absolute absolute is love. "make love your great quest..." (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Let's draw this out a bit. If love is an absolute, then perhaps you could define it. Or is it undefinable???

daniel said...

Hi Jon

Good question. Before becoming a Christian it was easy to define love.. but hollow somehow. I thought I had so much love, then when I took a second look at myself I realised I only loved who I chose to love. My love wasn't very extensive. I realised I only loved people that were more or less like me. So really, I was only loving myself.

The scripture that broke through my self-love was in 2 Peter 1:5-9. Check it out. I heard these verses in a sermon about the progression to love, and realized that I didn't have love - I had a counterfeit. I had the "all you need is love" kind of love. Then I looked around me in Church; here was a group of people with nothing in common besides their love for God and one another... there were old and young, rich and poor, black and white, intellectual and anti-intellectual, fat and thin, etc. all in one room. My negativity and criticism towards the Church melted, when I perceived the Love of God there - and I was drawn in to fellowship.

Even though I have moved to a new town, and a new local church, I must say the church here really excels in loving one another despite any other faults real or imagined.

Lets continue the conversation Jon. Its difficult to define love with reference to something higher, apart from saying "God is love" which says it all - but I also had this question reading Corinthians, and its a question one must ask oneself. If I scrutinize myself for love, the first of the fruits of the spirit, I know I'm not very loving as I am now. I definitely would like to be more and more loving, with true love, as I grow in God's love.

Central to this growth is the revelation of how much God loves me. "He first loves us". If I don't know deeply and beyond all doubt that God loves me, I won't express His love to others. It all starts and ends with my personal love relationship with God.

Its the question you asked a few posts ago: "Do you really love Him?"

ktismatics said...

"Good point Kt. Blows the cultural objection to Paul's teaching out the water."

Of course that's not my point at all, Daniel. I'm saying that 1 Cor. 11 blows Paul's teaching out of the water. What he purports to be divine intuition and an argument from first causes is best explained as unacknowledged cultural bias.

I think Paul valued the preservation of a traditional patriarchal societal order, and he offered distorted readings of OT Scripture for polemical purposes to crush dissent in the name of godliness and male dominance. I would say that Paul was being ruthlessly immoral here.

ktismatics said...

"God's goodness is infathomable to the unregenerated soul."

Here we see the essentially fascistic nature of a societal order run by regenerates who control the lawyers, guns and money. The subjugated unregenerates have no recourse, because the superior morality of the ruling class is by definition unfathomable to them. Only the regenerates are allowed to decide anything, not just on their own behalf but on behalf of the unregenerates as well.

ktismatics said...

"God's goodness is infathomable to the unregenerated soul."

As we discussed previously, if God is responsible for the genocidal slaughter of the Canaanites because they represented a potential source of moral corruption for the Israelites, then I'm prepared to fathom this goodness and to call it by a different name: evil. I think it's the responsibility of Judeo-Christians either to denounce the writer of Exodus' attribution of this evil act to God, or to denounce God himself.

ktismatics said...

Erdman, though you left this comment on my blog today, I thought I'd respond to it back at your place:

"This also raises an issue that we have touched on a bit before, which is where violent impulses come from and what are appropriate expressions of violence. I have said before that I am not ipso facto against war b/c it appears as though violence is a necessary form of conflict resolution."

Here's another example of the blurring of distinction between instinct and morality. Because people may be genetically predisposed to violent urges, does that make these urges morally good, such that war isn't just unavoidable but an appropriate way of resolving collective conflicts? One could argue also that murder is an appropriate way of resolving personal conflicts.

The other reason I responded here is to alert your other readers to today's post at Ktismatics, which stimulated your comment: Fight Club at the local high school where my daughter goes to school!

Jonathan Erdman said...

Well, I still agree with you, John, that just because something is an instinct does not make it good. But that would also apply to other areas, particularly the sexual. Just because a teen might have sexual urges/instincts, this does not in itself make it good. I think we are quite in agreement on that issue.

On the other hand, wouldn't you also say that having an instinct or urge is not itself immoral?

I just find it interesting that some are very quick to denounce instincts that they find offensive. So, some will find nothing wrong with the instinct to fight but they will become very offended at sexual impulses. Conversely, some praise sexual freedom, while on the other hand cringing at human impulses/instincts to fight. Whether or not these are right or wrong is a separate discussion, but don't you find it interesting how many in American educational culture (including both "secular" and "Christian") kind of pick and choose the instincts that repulse and offend them????

ktismatics said...

Everybody faces the challenge of getting their needs met and their urges satisfied in the context of living with other people. You can't just go ballistic on anybody who pisses you off or who just happens to be passing by (unless you're really big or have a lot of really big friends). Still, to renounce as evil all innate drives seems like overkill (so to speak). It also seems unlikely that regeneration would completely eliminate human drives. Law tries to rein them in, enslaving them so to speak. Presumably there's some way of rechanneling natural drives that is both freeing and morally good.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Your comment brings to mind mafia hoods and other gangsters who solve virtually all conflicts with violence. As you suggest, a world full of violence does not seem to be desirable, not does it appear to be an attainable goal.

I agree with you about Law. We could outlaw violence, but then it would only increase the desire for violent expression.

Jesus said, "blessed are the peacemakers," but the book of Revelation shows him returning with a sword to purge the earth of evil doers who have followed the antichrist.

There is a tension in the world that refuses to resolve. Violence seems necessary and natural, yet it is easy for violence to dominate us and destroy us.

daniel said...
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daniel said...
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daniel said...

Ktismatics said:

Of course that's not my point at all, Daniel.

Sorry for misrepresenting your point Ktismatics. It wasn't intentional but now I see that I took it and ran the wrong way. It's kind of humourous that I should have taken it that way though, don't you think so?

I disagree with you about God being evil to destroy rebellious humanity. I do see your contention as logical in terms of morality though.

Because I know I'm a sinner, I take it for granted that I deserve nothing less than destruction too. Do you think that makes a difference? From my point of view, God is full of love, mercy and forgiveness, slow to anger, patient, and desiring that none should perish but all should be saved.

You blame God for these atrocities, but I blame sinful man, who repeatedly and stubbornly cho(o)se their own way.

Something else you find objectionable: when I say "God's goodness is infathomable to the unregenerated soul" (a pompous sentence I'll confess) I don't claim to be able to fathom his goodness simply because I'm a believer (or "regenerate" as you put it!).

The truth is I'm still very much in the dark, coming into the light. The regenerated part of me, the spiritual eyes that were opened when I accepted Jesus, look to God for goodness and not to myself - that's the only difference. Now I crave His goodness, before I despised it. Now I rely on Him, before I relied on myself.

A Christian's boast is in Jesus, and how He has saved us, and not in ourselves. That's the way it should be.

I see how your morality causes you to reject God, that is why in my experience I see morality as a pole apart from God's goodness. Morality is the fruit of the tree of knowledge in my opinion, and seperates us from God. It leads to pride.

However Kt I acknowledge your point about the danger of the "regenerates" using their claim to the light to oppress and suppress others - a worse form of pride because it abuses God's goodness and generosity, for selfish purposes. True relationship with God leads to humility and not this kind of pride, a worse kind of pride than humanistic pride which at least tolerates other points of view.

ktismatics said...

I'd say you've outlined the traditional impasse, Daniel.