I Kissed Moralism Good-Bye

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A few months ago I wrote a post in response to the lecture that I witnessed at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY.  The talk was titled “The Ultimate Proof of Creation,” but was actually an attack on the moral character of atheists.  Seated among a predominantly atheist audience, I was appalled and embarrassed at what was being said.  In my post I made quite a feeble attempt at a response, but wrote out of anger and with a lack of substance.

In the lecture, Dr. Jason Lisle asserted that there is no morality outside of Christianity, and further that an atheist has absolutely no reason to be moral because he does not believe in God.  As the king of logical fallacies, Dr. Lisle has been stewed in his own soup with this assertion.  It is quite easy, in fact, to discount his claim and give full credence to the atheist on her ability to choose to do the right thing in every circumstance without God’s divine direction.

A Brief History of Morality

In ancient Babylon, approximately the year 1790 BCE, the leaders of that ancient civilization needed to keep order in the kingdom.  If left to their own devices, people would likely continue to violate the rights of others, steal personal property, and murder their neighbors for taking food.  It was obvious, apart from any sort of divine guidance or intervention, that order needed to be enacted.  It was decided that a moral code would be written to instruct people on what was right and wrong.  This “document” was called the Code of Hammurabi, named for the king, and carved on a seven-foot four inch tall stele.  Several copies have been unearthed including some on smaller stone tablets.

For context, this code was written nearly 400 years prior to God giving the Mosaic Law that is contained in the Hebrew Bible.  There is no mention of God handing down or writing another moral code.  My critics may remind me that the Bible teaches that every good thing comes from above, and I agree.  However, the point here is that in contrast with the giving of the Mosaic Law, the civilization in which the Hammurabi Code was developed and written was not a society based on the belief of the Judeo-Christian God.  Christian author Dr. Michael Horton agrees by making this a prominent point in his book Christless Christianity and cites several similar examples of moral codes outside of and prior to the Mosaic Law.  In Romans 2:12-16, even the Apostle Paul admits that people who have not heard nor been instructed in the Law still “do by nature things required by the law.”

We can even talk about morality that even predates written language. In his book The God Delusion renowned author and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins talks about memes, units of cultural inheritance.  The idea is that just as genes transmit biological information, memes transmit social information, specifically in terms of moral codes and moral laws.  In the most primitive of civilizations people could easily figure out how to get along with each other and some basic principles that can help make life better together.  These good ideas were transmitted by several different means including oral, written, and by example.  No doubt personality traits and biological factors played into this as well, but either way you slice it these are adequate explanations for the development of a moral code apart from the express involvement of the divine.

Christ Not Required

Christianity is a religion, indeed, and religion seems to have become synonymous with “rules for living” or “how to become a good person.”  The tragic thing is that at the heart of Christianity, it is really anything but.  Rather than taking a perspective of having the full capacity of being good and doing the right thing at all times, throughout the Scriptures it is very clear that this is impossible.  In fact, even in the Old Testament there were provisions for sacrifices that a person could make “just in case” there was a sin that he forgot or she did not intend (Leviticus 4).  That does not sound like a system that left any possibility of a person being flawless.

Ah! But Jesus changed all of that, didn’t he?  Of course, he did.  Jesus did the wonderful service of setting up yet other impossibilities that made the Mosaic Law look like a visit to grandma’s house.  While the Law of the Old Testament followed much of the moral codes that predated it, emphasizing action or prohibition of action, Jesus claimed that sin was when you had the thought of committing the action.  He said that if you hate then you are guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-26).

The next scandal has been one that has stumped theologians for centuries.  Jesus said that the Law and the prophets are summarized in love for God and for others.  I have had an increasing number of debates with people about this.  They insist that preaching a law of love is so “spiritual” and that it is “freeing” because it eliminates the power of legalism in our lives.  But Jesus himself (these are “red letters”) said that love is the same thing as the Law (Matthew 22:34-40Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28) .  If we follow the Law then we love and if we love we are following the Law.

Have you ever tried to love someone perfectly?  Is it even possible?  Loving someone perfectly means that you could never disappoint them and that you would always work to the good of the one you love.  Preaching love is not making anything any easier on anyone; it only helps people have a “feel-good legalism.”

Not Morals, Just Christ

The Gospel message is not a message of moralism.  The Gospel of Christ is simply this: it doesn’t matter what you have done or what you will ever do.  Jesus Christ, God incarnate, came to earth for the full intention of sacrificing himself to make payment for the sins that we have and will commit (Romans 5:1-11).  Christ made it so that we do not have to be perfect.  In fact, knowing that this was impossible his teaching emphasized this fact so that he would draw all people to himself.  Jesus made it possible to have a relationship with God again.  He covered our spiritual and moral nakedness with his robes of righteousness.  Nothing else is required.

Dr. Lisle, make this clear in your mind: if you think that Christianity is a moral code, then you do not know what Christianity is.  If you think that Christianity is doing the right thing and learning how to be a good person, you do not know what Christianity is.  If you think that if you work hard enough then you will get to meet God, then you can pick any other world religion, but you will not have Christianity.  A moral code does not make Christianity unique.  What separates Christianity is a God who comes, a God who cares, and a God who sets things right.  Every other faith makes you work for that relationship.  The Gospel is free.  Period.

The Gospel is even powerful enough to save Christians.

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About Aaron Gardner

Aaron is a counselor and student of the Bible, passionate about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. He lives in central Indiana with his wife, one-year-old son and their two dogs. View all posts by Aaron Gardner

31 responses to “I Kissed Moralism Good-Bye

  • Boz

    Post: “Jesus Christ, God incarnate, came to earth for the full intention of sacrificing himself to make payment for the sins that we have and will commit”

    I don’t understand how the killing of an innocent person in the place of a guilty person can be called justice.

  • Aaron

    I suppose it is different if that person is God, who I believe set up the rules in the first place.

  • Boz

    There are three problems that I see with that in the christian story:

    (1) The guilty person gets off scot-free

    (2) The innocent party doesn’t really get punished

    (3) Punishing an innocent person for the crimes of a guilty person is a miscarriage of justice.

    .

    This kind of teaching damages and deforms the moral emotions of the student, particularly guilt, empathy, regret and shame.

  • gayandevangelical

    Boz, perhaps #1 has to do with grace, #2 is a false statement, since Christ was indeed punished for sins that were not his own and justice demands blood for such crimes but because God appropriates the sacrifice, our right standing before Him as Christians is because of Christ’s perfect obedience, even death on a cross (Philippians 2).

    You are not the first person to level the charge that imputed righteousness dulls the moral sense of the student…but that charge is demonstrably false, specifically because of the gift of the Spirit in the lives for whom the sacrifice was made in the first place. Christ does not simply justify us theoretically; it is also God’s will to work in us to will and to work for HIS good pleasure.

    So the Gospel, being outside of us, has nothing to do with our response. But it DOES shape our responses as we live our lives.

  • Aaron

    1) Yes, and that is just the idea. We are all guilty and so the hope is that we will get off scott-free.
    2) Well, the innocent party was also a man, and crucifixion was quite the punishment.
    3) It is a complete miscarriage of justice… yet in this and only this case the person was pre-existent (“begotten, not made”) and so made the decision to come for that expressed purpose.

    This teaching would damage and deform moral emotions of the student, but this is why it is important to note the teaching that Christ was wholly unique. And in that way it informs my guilt, empathy, regret and shame.

  • Nathaniel

    Damnit, Aaron! Stop being so sensible! You’re making me feel guilty for putting you in the same RSS group as Ray Comfort and the Hovinds…

    On a more related note, I’ve heard this argument that “every other religion is based on good works, but Christianity is only about faith”, but I’ve never seen this substantiated. Also, I’ve never really heard anyone honestly meet the counter argument, which deals with the inevitable outcome of a person getting into heaven regardless of how horrible a life he lived. To make an extreme example (and invoke Godwin’s law), if Hitler has truly loved Jesus, would Jesus have simply forgiven him?

    I don’t mean this to set you up, but no one has actually answered this properly. At the most, people have argued that God’s sense of justice is simply different, but how different could it really be? Is “justice” in the eyes of God NOTHING but whether you worship his son or not? Does nothing else matter?

  • Jesse

    @ Aaron; it always impresses me how you continually demonstrate the ability to critically examine your own beliefs and come out the stronger for it.

    @ Boz; I think the large fallacy in your argument is that if you take the Christ story at face value then it is not a case of punishing an innocent person in place of a guilty person while allowing the guilty person to get off scot-free.

    First thing, Jesus was not innocent. Although he is called the son of God if I remember my theology correctly (Aaron will correct me if I’m wrong here) Jesus was more like God breaking of a chunk of himself into a separate entity, sending it, in the form of a baby, down to Earth and then welcoming it back into himself at the end after the Death and Resurection. This is why Christianity is still a Monotheism despite having God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. To borrow language from eastern religions they are three aspects of a single divinity, not separate divinities in their own right.

    As such the ultimate fault actually does rest with God. After the Fall it was, obviously if God is omnipotent, possible for God to wipe the Knowledge of Good and Evil from Adam and Eve and banish Sin. However God apparently decided that free-will trumps suffering. Regardless of whether you agree its a far trade or not it still logically follows that God, as a result of that choice, retains a portion of blame for each Sin.

    The Bible’s language makes it quite clear that, regardless of age and accomplishment, we are children to God. If your 5 year old child beats a kitten to death with a stick, who deserves more blame, the child, or yourself for not teaching and supervising them better.

    As such, Jesus, as an extension of God, was morally culpable for every sin ever committed.

    Also, in many states in the USA the highest punishment is death. Sin there, according to the Christian tradition, was no death before Sin every sinner is, in fact, punished in the end. It might take a long time for that punishment to arrive, but it does.

    So, strictly speaking, I do not see how the Christian tradition is anything but fair (in this example). However, as an atheist, I’d much rather see people punished in this life

  • gayandevangelical

    Jesse, actually you are talking about modalism. Jesus was fully God, fully man. This is an apparent contradiction, but it’s the Biblical testimony to that effect. Jesus was not a chunk of God broken off.

    Additionally, if Christ was a sinner, His death atoned for no one, not even Himself. I refer you to Hebrews 9, specifically verses 11-14, but reading the entire book up through that chapter will, I think, give a decent amount of context to the argument the biblical writer is using. Don’t take my word for this…weigh it at least internally before you write my comment off.

  • Boz

    ah, good point jesse. If you look at substitutionary atonement in the christian story with knowledge of the existence of an omniscient, omnipotent creator god, then every crime is actually committed by God, so it is fair for Him to be punished.

    .

    Aaron said: “This teaching would damage and deform moral emotions of the student, but this is why it is important to note the teaching that Christ was wholly unique. And in that way it informs my guilt, empathy, regret and shame.”

    So, it is OK to damage the moral emotions of the student because the syllabus is unique?

  • Jesse

    If Jesus was both fully God as well as fully man, I’m not certain how that doesn’t strengthen my argument?

    I really don’t understand how Christ being a sinner as well as God, changes my argument, since my argument was that since Christ was a sinner, and therefore not innocent, it is not a case of, as Boz said, “(3) Punishing an innocent person for the crimes of a guilty person is a miscarriage of justice.”

  • Aaron

    Straw man… the syllabus may be unique but it is still a syllabus… there was no other god-man.

    Btw, is everyone afraid of engaging the gay Christian?

  • David

    Wait a second…Christ was NOT a sinner. That’s the whole point, Jesse. Did you even read the comment at all?

  • Jesse

    Man, every time I post a reply someone else replies at the same time and I don’t realize I’ve missed something…

    In response to gayandevangelicals’ FIRST post;

    Can you rephrase this sentence;

    “specifically because of the gift of the Spirit in the lives for whom the sacrifice was made in the first place. Christ does not simply justify us theoretically; it is also God’s will to work in us to will and to work for HIS good pleasure.”

    I THINK what your saying is that because the Spirit is given to us each individually, and brings about the will to work for God’s pleasure, that this falsifies Boz’s charge that this type of moralizing dulls its students sense of righteousness? Or are you argueing that because the Spirit is given to each of us it constantly renews our sense of Righteousness?

  • Jesse

    I did, in Hebrews 9 the closest it comes to saying Jesus was not a sinner is (9:14, KJV) “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

    I’m arguing that, regardless of whether Jesus ever committed a Sin himself, he still retains blame as a function of his God-hood. You can be spotless without being blameless.

    Also: If he is fully God AND fully Man, and Man is, by definition, born with Original Sin, then Jesus is also, be definition, a sinner.

  • gayandevangelical

    The first.

    There is a constant renewal, but it’s not necessarily our “sense of Righteousness.” The renewal to which I would refer would be per Romans 12:2, but that’s not entirely relevant (though it IS related) to our discussion here.

    Otherwise, Paul tells us that God himself working in us to will and to work to His good pleasure, Phil 2:12-13. This is not a universal working in all men; it is specifically applied to those who believe in Christ.

    Spotlessness in the Hebrews passage refers to His blamelessness. That’s the whole point of the analogy with the OT sacrificial system (which, by the way, is why I directed you to read the whole thing before commenting). I know it’s long and seems irrelevant, but context is everything, my friend.

    Additionally, Philippians, 3:7-11, is completely unintelligible if indeed Christ was not blameless under the law. Since there is internal consistency, though distinct arguments, made across books of the Bible, it would seem to be unwise to try to divorce one text from another, especially since the Christological hymn in Phil 2 doesn’t make any sense if Christ was not blameless.

  • Jesse

    I did read all of Hebrews 9 before commenting a second time, there is no mention of blamelessness, or even a definition of without spot, in the entire Chapter (at least not in the KJV). Maybe its defined in an early chapter, but I’m not going to read the entire book of Hebrews for the purposes of this discussion.

    As for Phil 3: 7-11.

    “7. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.

    8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

    9. And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

    10. That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

    11. If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”

    I ENTIRELY fail to see how this becomes unintelligible if Christ is not blameless unless He can only be righteous if he is ALSO blameless, that his blame would nullify his righteousness. If your arguing that then I can see your point but your going to have to THEN explain why blame should nullify righteousness, because I do not see the logical connection there, sorry.

    Back to the points in your first post. How is Boz’s charge demonstrably false? Your asserting that its false based on the presumption that the Holy Spirit causes us to work towards God’s pleasure, which is not the same thing as our emotions for guilt, shame, empathy etc.

    Your making some very large logical leaps here without even attempting to qualify why we should follow you in them.

  • gayandevangelical

    Let me take a stab at this.

    First of all, if I were to read 1 paragraph of your favorite atheist author and attempt to understand the thrust of his argument for an entire book, you’ll call me a fool, saying to even begin to understand his thought process I’d need to read the whole thing. So, if this is the case, saying you won’t read nine chapters of Hebrews (which the whole book takes only an hour to read out loud) is very inconsistent.

    Second, please find a real Bible translation. If the KJV is what’s on your shelf then it’s no wonder you would never want to read the thing. There are free bibles online at BibleGateway.com. The one I’ve been quoting here is the ESV. It’s literal like the KJV but has 400 more years of study than the KJV translators had, so not only is the English understandable, but the translation is also better because of what we’ve learned of ancient cultures and customs.

    Now, to address your specific concerns.

    In verse 8b-9 of Phil 3, we read: “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, NOT HAVING A RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT COMES FROM THE LAW, but that which comes through FAITH IN CHRIST, THE RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT DEPENDS ON FAITH…”

    Christ’s righteousness (aka “blamelessness before God”) was essential. Paul is arguing that precise point here. If Christ’s righteousness is non-existent, Peter is incoherent in 2 Peter 1:2-3 when he tells the church to whom he is writing, “May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” If Christ is a sinner, He cannot grant us anything pertaining to life and godliness. Imperfect cannot give perfection as a gift.

    And possibly, most convincing of all is Paul’s 2nd letter to the church at Corinth: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ, reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ: be reconciled to God. For our sake he made HIM to be sin who knew no sin, so that in HIM we might become the righteousness of God” (5:17-21).

    Who are the “hims” in the last verse? Christ! Christ knew no sin and bore the sins of those who have the gift of faith SO THAT they would become the righteousness of God. This is not a leap of logic, Jesse. This is the unified testimony of Scripture.

    I’ve really been addressing Boz’s false claim the entire time. Jesus was, in fact, sinless. Therefore, the innocent party really WAS punished and the guilty party does NOT get off scot-free. No, the guilty party is redeemed through the killing of an innocent sacrifice, namely Jesus.

    Now, if one wants to assert (as many have) that Scripture is just a bit of mythologizing…then that is a discussion for a different post. Aaron’s post is dealing with the internal consistency of Christian theology and obviously presupposes many things about Scripture. Perhaps a post on his blog will appear about how we can know we trust Scripture, but in actuality many capable books have been written to that effect, including a rather long one by N. T. Wright called “The Resurrection of the Son of God.” I commend it to you, but only if you’re up for a challenge…it’s a daunting 728 pages if memory serves. I’ll admit I only made it to roughly page 100, if I got that far. But his scholarship is careful and he uses much of the cultural context of first century Palestine to make his case as to why the resurrection happened and much of this particular work can be used to lay a capable foundation on which an understanding of the reliability of Scripture can be built.

  • Jesse

    Your not addressing my questions, just accusing me of not reading enough. The passages you’ve quoted me don’t say anything about blame, just righteousness. Blamelessness is NOT a required factor of righteousness in any of the definitions for it I’m aware of. Saying “righteousness (aka “blamelessness before God”)” is not sufficient, you need to back it up.

    So if you want me to agree with you, which I’m willing to do if you can logically show this, you need to demonstrate why I should include blamelessness in my definition of righteousness.

    You’re also implying that Christ could not give perfection if he were not perfect (which I do not agree but lets not argue about that, I’ll operate on the assumption that you are correct) and that if He were not blameless He would not be perfect. I fail to see how this even makes sense because blame, while colloquially always used in a negative sense, is not inherently negative. According to the Christian tradition you can most certainly blame God for the creation of the world, etc. Blame means someone is accountable for their actions and is not intrinsically good or evil. Therefore, a being who holds themself accountable for their part in allowing free-will, and therefore allowing Sin, is a more perfect being then one who holds themselves exempt from the consequences of their actions.

    Even more, your second point, Paul’s 2nd letter at Corinth is ambiguous AT BEST. The very last line you quoted “For our sake he made HIM to be sin who knew no sin, so that in HIM we might become the righteousness of God” itself seems to bolster my point that Jesus himself possessed Sin. As you argue above about perfection, if Jesus did not possess Sin, how did he defeat it?

    Lastly, if you are right, and I’m willing to concede the point if you can back up all these statements, because right now all your doing is Arguing from Perceived Authority, then you still need to address my last point in my last post. How is Boz’s charge demonstrably false? Your asserting that its false based on the presumption that the Holy Spirit causes us to work towards God’s pleasure, which is not the same thing as our emotions for guilt, shame, empathy etc.

  • Renier

    Aaron: “Well, the innocent party was also a man, and crucifixion was quite the punishment.”

    Perhaps Boz was saying, in comparison, that a crucification is a walk in the park compared to eternal torture in fire?

    gayandevangelical: “since Christ was indeed punished for sins that were not his own and justice demands blood for such crimes but because God appropriates the sacrifice”

    It does seem strange. God made all the rules, so he must have made the rule that blood needs to be spilled when he takes offence. Perhaps humans are better than god in this case, where we can can honestly say “I forgive you” without having to demand that something needs to bleed. God’s blood-lust is by his own doing, assuming of course that the Christian god exists and is as described in the Bible.

    gayandevangelical: ”specifically because of the gift of the Spirit in the lives for whom the sacrifice was made in the first place”

    I thought is was made for *all* men?

    gayandevangelical: “it is also God’s will to work in us to will and to work for HIS good pleasure.”

    How does that even work in practice? Does he modify your brain chemistry to curb your anger, your lust, your feelings? Does he adjust the amounts of certain hormones in order to “work for his pleasure”? Does he perhaps give a woman more oxytocin so that she may feel love towards her newborn child or advances the levels of oxytocin in a lover so that there is bonding and faithfulness?

    gayandevangelical: “So the Gospel, being outside of us, has nothing to do with our response. But it DOES shape our responses as we live our lives.”

    That is true for a lot more than just the gospel. Other religions claim the same. Even political ideologies could lay claim to the same. We interact with our environment all the time and even that shapes our responses.

    Aaron wrote: “Yes, and that is just the idea. We are all guilty and so the hope is that we will get off scott-free.”

    Guilty of what? Sure, we all in some way offended or did another human injustice, but how is it even possible for a perfect all-powerful god to take offence or experience injustice done towards him. What type of injustice would that even be? It’s not like anybody got hold of him and beat him with a stick, robbed him of his pocket cash or slept with his wife. So guilty of what?

    Robert G. Ingersoll wrote: “What man who ever thinks, can believe that blood can appease God? And yet our entire system of religion is based on that belief. The Jews pacified Jehovah with the blood of animals, and according to the Christian system, the blood of Jesus softened the heart of God a little, and rendered possible the salvation of a fortunate few.”

  • Aaron

    @Renier

    Again it is important to distinguish between a finite human and an infinite God; true humans can forgive one another… often with much struggle considering the extent of the offense. When it comes to a perfect God, though, even the smallest incident is completely disgusting to Him.

    God did indeed set up the rules, as well as the natural laws and the existance of the entire universe (creation by word, Big Bang, evolution, whatever). We see it as God’s perogative, after all He is the reason we exist in the first place.

    gayandevangelical: ”specifically because of the gift of the Spirit in the lives for whom the sacrifice was made in the first place”

    Here he is making the point from the Calvinist perspective. Renier you are no doubt more familiar with the Arminian teaching that Jesus died for all and that we have the perogative to choose him. Calvinists would say that Jesus died only for “the elect” and that it is not our choice, but we are instead chosen by God and so Jesus did not actually die for everyone.

    Renier: “Other religions claim the same.”

    Actually they do not. Other faiths claim that we have to work to earn God’s favor. Think about all the emphasis on deeds in other faith traditions. True, there appears to be that emphasis in Christianity, but see the original post in this thread for that answer.

    Renier: “Guilty of what?”

    Have you seen the episode of Seinfeld where George buys an expensive sweater for a terribly discounted price because there was a tiny red dot on it? Who would want a sweater that was flawed? Surely you are not saying that you are perfect? To a perfect God, any flaw is like that red dot… and He paid full price for us in spite of our flaw! That is the Gospel, the good news.

  • Renier

    Aaron: “When it comes to a perfect God, though, even the smallest incident is completely disgusting to Him”

    Well, it would seem his tolerance level is not perfect then.

    Aaron wrote: “We see it as God’s perogative, after all He is the reason we exist in the first place.”

    You know I don’t even think he is real.

    Aaron wrote: “Actually they do not. Other faiths claim that we have to work to earn God’s favor.” in response to my response “Other religions claim the same.” about “So the Gospel, being outside of us, has nothing to do with our response. But it DOES shape our responses as we live our lives.”

    Looks confusing. Just trying to point out that When I said other religions claim the same it is in relation to what I responded to “But it DOES shape our responses as we live our lives.” In short, you are misrepresenting my response. probably not intentional, it does get confusing.

    Aaron: “Have you seen the episode of Seinfeld where George buys an expensive sweater for a terribly discounted price because there was a tiny red dot on it? Who would want a sweater that was flawed? Surely you are not saying that you are perfect? To a perfect God, any flaw is like that red dot… and He paid full price for us in spite of our flaw! That is the Gospel, the good news.”

    First, like I said, the claim of perfection does not appear to apply to tolerance, understanding and unconditional (perfect) love. Secondly, the manufacturer should be blamed for the flaw, not the product.

  • Renier

    Sorry, one more thing. Aaron wrote: “and He paid full price for us in spite of our flaw! That is the Gospel, the good news.”

    The vast majority of humanity will suffer in Hell regardless of any price “paid”, according to the Bible. That is *not* good news, not by a long shot. Also obviously not a “perfect” plan by a “perfect” god to save humans.

  • Aaron

    Was that God’s plan… to save all of humanity?

    It is good news from this side of the canyon 😉

  • Boz

    How callous of you, Aaron.

  • Renier

    Some people think the vast majority of human beings will be eternally tortured in fire, and they call this good news. Better no god than a god like that. I mean, what would the devil have done?

  • Tiffers

    I think you’ll be hard pressed to find many people who believe hell is actual fire.

    If I were to ask my 5 year old if he would mind having the oxygen taken away, he wouldn’t care because he doesn’t even know what it is… he doesn’t understand what he would be missing. If I were to ask my 9 year old the same question, she would say no way… she knows that oxygen keeps her alive and breathing. If you were to ask a person who does not know and believe in God if they would mind being eternally separated from him, they wouldn’t care. If you would Aaron the same question, he would say no way because he knows God. Perhaps the person who doesn’t know God simply spends an eternity without God and all the He is. There are many different beliefs and theories on what hell “is”.

  • Mark Abraham

    Aaron, i think you’re a little far to remove morality from your Chriatian experience:  its really a part of human experience because of the qualities of our Creator.

    The Bible says that “all good things come from God”, and that “we were made in the image of God”.  God put the desire to be moral in everyone’s heart–that is the deepest part of intellect we all possess.

    We shouldn’t be surprised to see morality outside the Bible.  Psalms 19 tells us that even His creation testifies of Him.

    Yes, we’re all deeply scarred becaus of the Fall, but reflections of His image show heir-apparent because we are His creation.  That’s what the Creation Museum is portraying.

  • Aaron

    Mark, it is putting the cart before the horse… and giving people a bait-and-switch. We tell people to “come as you are” and then after they “accept Jesus” they are given a list of rules that they have to follow to stay a part of the club.

    No doubt, I want to follow Jesus and that means doing the right thing. But when we make Christianity about doing the right thing first… well…. that is a big problem.

    It is also a problem to tell people that they need to do the right things to keep in God’s good graces. Did Jesus not die for ALL sin? The Gospel is just as sweet when we first become Christians as it is when we continue to sin in our Christian walk…. Read More

    Galatians describes the good work as “fruit of the Spirit.” That fruit is what is produced naturally as a part of being in the Spirit. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches… if we abide in Christ we have no choice but to produce fruit, and that fruit is produced because of the power of Christ within us.

    And so when the cart (good works) comes after the horse (the atoning grace of Christ) then we can see that not only does it work better that way, but that the works themselves are His.

  • Renier

    Tiffers: “I think you’ll be hard pressed to find many people who believe hell is actual fire.”

    Not really. Besides, the Bible states it is fire. I think fire is meant considering the usage of the Greek word Tartarus as well.

    Tiffers: ” If you were to ask a person who does not know and believe in God if they would mind being eternally separated from him, they wouldn’t care.”

    And presumably being away from someone you do no know would not make a difference either, would it?

    Tiffers: “If you would Aaron the same question, he would say no way because he knows God.”

    Apologies for hammering the same nail every time this comes up. Claims of knowledge requires evidence. Nobody *knows* anything about any god. People have their perceptions, ideas and opinions as it relates to concepts of god they have heard or read about, but this does not constitute *knowledge* of said entities. In short, people have their opinions about gods, not factual knowledge about the gods. Unless of course someone can substantiate a claim of knowledge with some evidence? For this reason I would argue that neither you nor Aaron have a relationship with God, but rather a relationship with your own make-belief friends, like children often does.

    Tiffers: “Perhaps the person who doesn’t know God simply spends an eternity without God and all the He is.”

    There are a couple of serious assumptions in your question. Emotions, memories etc are stored in the brain. When a person dies, the emotions and memories die. What use then is an afterlife if you cannot even recall who you are, what you did or what god you preferred? How can one even say “you” or “I am” without taking into account what you are, such as memories, emotions, instinct, feelings etc? Without your brain you are not, since you do not have conciousness.

    Mark: “We shouldn’t be surprised to see morality outside the Bible. Psalms 19 tells us that even His creation testifies of Him.”

    There was morality before the Bible was written and we find morality in cultures that never heard of the Christian god. It does not mean morality was implanted in people by god. We have naturalistic explanations that is preferred by Occam. We see crude morality in the animal world as well. Recent studies (see NS) even points to the possibility that monkey have a sense of “fairness”. There is no need to invoke a god (for whom there is no evidence in the first place) in order to explain morality.

    Mark: “Yes, we’re all deeply scarred becaus of the Fall, but reflections of His image show heir-apparent because we are His creation. That’s what the Creation Museum is portraying.”

    The Creation Museum is portraying a false and distorted view of reality, an attempt to undermine science and the conclusions we are forced to draw from it’s findings, such that the Bible is wrong about how all this came to be in the literal sense. It is as simple as that.

    Aaron: “But when we make Christianity about doing the right thing first… well…. that is a big problem.”

    At least one Christian has given the issue some thought. Would it perhaps not even have been more accurate to say “But when we make Christianity about being the right thing … well…. that is a big problem.”

    Aaron: “Galatians describes the good work as “fruit of the Spirit.” That fruit is what is produced naturally as a part of being in the Spirit.”

    And people who do not “walk in the Spirit”? Do they not too show some of the attributes and “fruit”?

  • Good Without God: a Response « A Great Work

    […] put it another way, if being a moral person was what Christianity was about then the atheists would be right.  No belief in God is required to do right by your neighbor, to be generous with your time and […]

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