Who Defines Morality?

By Franklin Graham Published on December 12, 2018

Who defines morality? Apple CEO Tim Cook recently received the Courage Against Hate award, “for his work as a champion of unity, diversity, and social progress.”

In his acceptance speech, Cook – who in 2014 declared “I’m proud to be gay” and became the first openly homosexual CEO of a Fortune 500 company – defended the banning of certain speech and news media on Apple platforms when they violate the “values” of their company. That should concern all of us.

He said, “We believe the future should belong to those who use technology to build a better, more inclusive, and more hopeful world. I believe the most sacred thing that each of us is given is our judgment, our morality, our own innate desire to separate right from wrong. Choosing to set that responsibility aside in a moment of trial is a sin.”

The only thing is, as sinful human beings, we don’t get to define morality or sin according to our own desires, preferences, or agendas. Tim Cook can’t; I can’t; and you can’t. Sin and morality has been defined by the God of the universe. God and God alone. God’s Word, the Bible, is the standard by which questions of good and evil, and right and wrong, are determined.

We run into all kinds of problems if Apple or Google or anyone else tries to censor according to their own personal code of right and wrong. That was the problem among God’s people a thousand years before Christ appeared, as the Old Testament Book of Judges drew to a close: “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

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Originally published at Facebook/FranklinGraham

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  • gordiduk

    Besides being unhealthy, perverted and disgusting, Tim, rumpranging is a sin against human nature, no matter what you feel is right or wrong…

  • Walt Viet

    There is only one place to find what is Moral THE BIBLE. As humans we are not real good at being moral.
    Just look at the difference between The Word of God and the misunderstanding, to the out and out lying of
    man.
    Get it together before it is to late.

  • Anthony Cieszkiewicz

    As brutal as sodomy (gay sexual adventurism) to force fit that which was never intended to fit for any useful purpose is irrational if not delusional but such is the pursuit of novelty by the leftist liberal. Perhaps he has but I have yet to hear him declare his atheistic world view which is the sand foundation of the sodomists.

  • Charles Burge

    Reminds me of Barak Obama’s quip about sin being “what doesn’t match ‘my values'”. By that definition, the Nazis were morally upright, since they did live according to their values.

    In short, anything that doesn’t align with the Bible quickly descends into illogic when you carry the argument to its naturl end.

    • Patmos

      I remember seeing Obama trying to justify his LGBT stance, doing so without a teleprompter. Long story short, it was a disaster. Of course, when you’re trying to justify the unjustifiable, no teleprompter is going to help you.

  • Patmos

    Who defines morality? It ain’t Tim Cook, that’s for sure!

    Here is the folly of moral relativism: Leaving morality up to the shifting whims of human desire essentially means anything goes, because who gets to decide what is what? And if anything goes then that means there are no standards, and if there are no standards then there is no actual morality!

    This type of crap Tim Cook is putting out there has been debunked for a very long time. Not sure what he thinks he is doing.

    • apollo

      Cook and his bros are transforming the world. But never you mind because the Lord is standing at the end of the path they are working so hard to build with a rod of iron.

    • stan schmunk

      It ain’t Franklin Graham, that’s for sure. His campaigning for and now totally blind support for Trump eliminates any moral authority he might have had. So does his use of a confirmed Scientologist in his work for Samaritan’s Purse. Lea Remini’s exposes of Scientology are powerful but Franklin is totally silent.

  • Howard Rosenbaum

    Yeah , moral relativism is a morality without a reality. In other words to paraphrase the Master ; “ if you continue in your own word you shall not know the truth and not knowing the truth will not set you free “ …

    • Trilemma

      When Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets,” (Mat 7:12 NIV), he made a statement of moral relativism.

      • Howard Rosenbaum

        Reciprocity is in some sense of the word an ethical consideration. Not absolutely a moral one .
        Sure morality is fundamentally the foundation upon which ethical behavior is constructed. Yet it would seem to me that Jesus was referencing an understanding that both his advocates as well as His adversaries would respect.
        That is that this man was if anything a proclaimer of a moral platform. One which whether embraced or not by His hearers would be understood as such,
        Consequently, it is not unequivocally “ moral relativism “ that the Master was employing. Rather it could be said that He was simply setting a precedent.
        One which is designed to “fulfill the law & the prophets” . One which foreshadowed the “ better way “ . That new commandant which was spoken of to those who could not yet fully understand
        . The law of the “spirit of life in Christ Jesus”. That love “thing” which is the best foundation upon which ethical behavior in truth must be predicated upon ….

        • Trilemma

          Since Jesus commanded it, that would make it an ethical consideration. If someone decides to live by it then it’s a moral one. Or it could be a philosophical consideration. But it’s still relativism because what a person does with it will be relative to what a person would want done to them. Suppose there were a serious accident and someone was on the ground dying. One person might think that if they were that person they would want to die so, they simply walk away. Another might think that if they were that person they would want to live so, they give first aid. Both acted ethically and morally.

          • davidrev1911

            “Both acted ethically and morally.” “SEZ WHO?” And according to which specific individual, of whom IS universally regarded as THE sole repository [or “Deliverer”] of absolute moral truth claims, living amongst the 7-plus billion Homo sapiens on this planet??

            In your thoughtful comments on this thread, it sure seems like you’re incoherently attempting to “ground” individual subjective claims of moral relativism – in an otherwise “normative” and/or objective manner…namely those absolute truth claims?

            Since you clearly reject any absolute truth claims of the Judeo-Christian variety; meaning those “truths” proceeding from the self-existent transcendent Creator, self-revealed through the Holy Bible – i.e., Yahweh, the Ruach Elohim, or the “Spirit of Truth” Himself, aka Yeshua-Jesus of Nazareth – would you please clarify your seemingly misguided position on this, if you will?

          • Trilemma

            They both acted ethically and morally according to the command, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets,” (Mat 7:12 NIV),

          • davidrev1911

            Space won’t permit me to deal with this immediate, contextually arcane misinterpretation, thus misapplication of Matt. 7:12; but I will try to be helpfully succinct, if possible, if you’ll only consider your comments above, within the context of the following.

            You might want to consult any reputable Dictionary & Thesaurus – as I just did – in order to see that the terms/concepts of “ethical” & “moral” are virtually indistinguishable, thus synonymous, and used interchangeably within the contexts of a myriad of sentences. I have no idea either, how you’ve come to utilize them on this thread separately, or having made this black-and-white distinction between them? So be it.

            However, I will direct you to ONE glaring oversight on your part, when you literally wrenched Matt. 7:12 OUT of its appropriate context; as Jesus employs this so-called “Golden Rule” in a new positive, sacrificial LOVE-oriented, OTHER-CENTERED context [meaning “LOVING one’s neighbor as one’s self,” Leviticus 19:18] – as opposed to the typically negative I, ME, MY, wait-and-see approach, with which we humans are so well-known for in our daily lives.

            (Please understand that this is why one can’t hope to acquire the appropriate interpretation and/or application of Matt. 7:12, outside of including the entire LOVE-oriented, OTHER-centered [almost exacting] context found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter’s 5-7; whereby the Lord Yeshua expounded upon the actual “meaning” behind the “Law and the Prophets.”)

            Further study would’ve no doubt enabled you to see this same phrase used in its “absolute,” thus one-and-only correct context found in other areas of NT doctrine – in contrast to your bizarre claims of moral relativism re: this text, e.g., Luke 6:27-31; Matt. 22:34-40…esp v.40; Romans 13:8-10…esp. the end of v.9 & Galatians 5:13-14.

            And please notice how this phrase “fulfilling the Law and the Prophets” etc., is always “tied” and/or “associated” with the immutable, UNchanging [or absolutely binding] meaning foundational to the “10 commandments of the Decalogue,” i.e., the “Law of Love,” if you will. I stress this, because the first FOUR-of-the-TEN Commandments are situated “vertically” – as in mankind’s upward responsibilities & relationship to their Creator – and the last SIX Commandments, are “horizontal” in their application, meaning our interpersonal dealings with one another during our lives here on HIS earth.

            And the Lord Yeshua brings this correct interpretation into sharp focus in the following text, when dealing with the religious leaders [Sadducees & Pharisees] of whom had made a habit of imposing their rabbinical teachings UPON the Word of God, “…THUS NULLIFYING THE WORD OF GOD BY YOUR TRADITION THAT YOU’VE HANDED DOWN. And you do many things like this.” (My emphasis of course – Jesus’ rebuke in Mark 7:13, but please read entire context of Mark 7:1-13.)

            • • •

            “Now when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they assembled together. And one of them, an expert in religious law, asked him a question to test him:“ Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”Jesus said to him, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40/NET)

            • • •

            And please recognize how Jesus utilizes, or incorporates the “vertical” aspects of the “Shema” [Deut. 6:4-5] re: our relationship to Almighty God – found in the first FOUR Commandments of the Decalogue – as well as the “horizontal” nature of the final SIX Commandments, of which illustrate human responsibilities toward one another, by quoting Leviticus 19:18; hence the command about “loving one’s neighbor as one’s self.”

            This is WHY humanity NEEDED a Savior, and WHY God gave mankind the Ten Commandments – under which we ALL stand guilty before Him [see Roman’s 3:9-31]; since we all, in our “fallen” state, typically “look-out-for-number-ONE” on a consistent basis throughout our lives, thus “fall short” of keeping ANY of those 10 Commandments 24/7 – 365!

            This is where Jesus’ quintessentially OTHER-CENTERED life & work has critically intervened on mankind’s behalf. (BTW: note Jesus’ brilliant usage of five-of-the-six “horizontal” commandments, when attempting to bring the “Rich Young Ruler” [i.e., your above statement] to the correct understanding about his own moral bankruptcy, within his sin-stained “fallen” heart – in spite of this self-deceived individual’s futile insistence upon emphasizing his own SELF-righteousness before His Creator.)

            Hopefully, or even prayerfully, with the help of the Ruach haKodesh, or “Spirit of Truth” himself, you’ll come to the only correct conclusion of the matter; meaning, when it comes to being “morally inconsistent” – we “fallen” Homo sapiens’ tragically fail in this regard – or “take-the-cake” in this context…on a consistent basis too! I do pray you’ll take the necessary time to study all the passages I’ve provided, in their appropriate context – “since Scripture will always interpret Scripture.”

          • Trilemma

            These quotes are from the Merriam-Webster site under the definition for ethic.

            Ethics vs Morals: Is there a difference?
            Ethics and morals are both used in the plural and are often regarded as synonyms, but there is some distinction in how they are used.
            Morals often describes one’s particular values concerning what is right and what is wrong:
            While ethics can refer broadly to moral principles, one often sees it applied to questions of correct behavior within a relatively narrow area of activity:
            In addition, morals usually connotes an element of subjective preference, while ethics tends to suggest aspects of universal fairness and the question of whether or not an action is responsible:

            Other sites say that ethics tells a person what is right and wrong and morals are what a person decides is right and wrong. Based on this, the Bible is a book of ethics. People may or may not adopt the ethics of the Bible as part of their morality. Morals are subjective. Ethics, not so much. Bible ethics prohibited work on the Sabbath. Jesus said there were times when it was morally right to do so. Bible ethics required Jesus to stone to death the woman caught in adultery. His morals prevented him from doing so. Jesus’s morals were subjective. What Jesus did was based more on his subjective morals and less on the ethics of the Law. Morals based on love are going to be different than morals based on Law because morals based on love will be more subjective. Jesus taught that morals should be based on love.

            Paul also taught moral relativism when he said that all things are lawful but not all things are profitable. Therefore what he did would be based subjectively on what is profitable. Suppose the Bible says lying is ethically wrong. Yet sometimes lying is morally right relative to the situation.

          • davidrev1911

            “Morals based on love are going to be different than morals based on Law because morals based on love will be more subjective. Jesus taught that morals should be based on love.”

            But you’ve already seen in my last reply, that in the Bible, Jesus’ made the absolutely enduring, thus morally-binding LOVE-BASED claim re: the essence of the TWO greatest commandments [i.e., Matt. 22:34-40]. And these moral elements are inextricably identified with the 10 [morally-premised] Commandments of the Decalogue. (e.g., the “vertically” situated “Shema” of Deut. 6:4-5, aligned with the 1st FOUR Commandments; and the “horizontally-binding” application of the final SIX Commandments, comprehensively covering mankind’s interpersonal dealings between one another – as seen in Leviticus 19:18 & Matthew 7:12.)

            Yet you continue to try and reason, in a classic tail-chasing/circular “pretzel logic” fashion at that, from the inside of a wholly GODless intellectual straitjacket….sorta like a moral-merry-go-round of sorts. All you’ve done in providing that quotation from a “fallen” this-worldly Merriam Webster “authoritative” source, is to present nothing more than authoritative moral confusion; since I’m also prepared to copy/paste Merriam Webster’s definitions of the words “ethical” & “moral” – found in their “Free app” on Google Play, version 4.3.2, updated Dec. 11, developer address P.O. Box 281, Springfield, MA., 01102. And both of those words – in either adjective, or noun form – are listed in each others’ respective categories as synonyms! So which authority is absolutely RIGHT Trilemma? What now??

            So because of this intellectual malady, or spiritual myopia with which you’re sadly afflicted – i.e., having NO “ultimate” moral foundation from which to make absolute moral pronouncements, that are “binding upon all people, at all times, and in all places” – you have NO rational/logical capacity to “ground” your subjectively based moral statements, as somehow representing those objectively “normative moral ought’s,” of which you’re trying in utter futility to properly access.

            Without the Almighty Creator God of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures as the absolute, thus ultimate moral authority to inform his specially-created “spirit creatures,” then we accidental byproducts of “a nature red in tooth and claw” – haphazardly instantiated here on planet earth, through and by a strictly meaningless, unguided, purposeless evolutionary process – are all “simply dancing to our own DNA.” That’s it! Thus I believe that torturing infants, or even aggressively persecuting same-sex-oriented people, is a morally acceptable practice in which to frequently engage…whenever possible. What say you???

            “But a natural [unregenerate, thus unsaved “fallen”] man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16/NASB)

            Translation: WE MUST BE BORN-AGAIN “from above,” by the Ruach haKodesh, or Ruach Elohim, in order to comprehend spiritual truths! And this clearly exemplifies your current plight. Otherwise we humans remain in the “spiritually dead” condition into which all Homo sapiens’ are physically born; thus separated from the life-giving animation that’s vitally necessary to human flourishing, namely the “breath of life” provided by our Creator, sustaining our very lives.

            So like I stated earlier: this means your vacuous, thus foundationless “Trilemma-premised” worldview consists of nothing more than subjective opinions – virtually NO different than any of the other 7-plus billion people on this planet; whose personal, subjective proclamations of moral relativism both logically & rationally die-a-thousand-deaths, to the late law professor Arthur Leff’s penetratingly brilliant, “Grand Sez Who?” analysis!

            (See also in this exact context: distinguished law school Dean & professor of law, Washington and Lee University School of Law, Samuel W. Calhoun’s “Grounding Normative Assertions: Arthur Leff’s Still Irrefutable , But Incomplete, ‘Sez Who?’ Critique,” Journal of Law & Religion, 2005.)

            • • •

            “In those days there was no king in Israel, everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25) Hmmm…

          • Howard Rosenbaum

            Your argument is correct in regard to those who would hear the Masters words. The hearers are easily in position to produce behavior that would qualify as relative to a moral code of ethical responsibility as your illustration suggests.
            Yet Jesus as the very incarnation of God , though subject to the frailties of man, was not willing to succumb to the moral inconsistencies of his humanity. Moral relativism would be such an inconsistency. It is one of the enemies most subtle tactics to justify questionable behavior.
            You know that “ sin thing” .
            As noted in my previous reply , the Master establishes a morally absolute imperative in His statement regarding what one could call the law of reciprocity. You know that seedtime & harvest kind of thing.
            Jesus always spoke & did what He heard & saw the Father say & do .
            That’s probably something too many believers are somewhat less than real familiar with . Hence their moral relativism in much of what they choose .
            The context of the Masters words are always framed within the construct of the Fathers will. The only thing relative about that is our response to it ….

            ,

          • Trilemma

            I see Jesus being morally inconsistent. Jesus told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give it to the poor. Did Jesus require all rich people to do this or was this only relative to this one person? When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, ethically he was required to stone her to death as his own law required. But he obviously didn’t believe that would be morally right. That’s an inconsistency Jesus demonstrated between what is ethically right and what is morally right.

          • Howard Rosenbaum

            Perhaps you need to approach your defense of this moral relativism thing where Jesus is concerned from a perspective that doesn’t reject the truth. One which allows for genuine objectivity as well as intellectual honesty.
            Then the revelation of this man & His mission may enlighten “ the eyes of your heart” so to speak & a reasonable
            conclusion based on the integrity of the scripture would be within your grasp .
            As to this your latest defense against the divinity of Christ ( which is not a substantive defense but rather a logically convoluted one ) Jesus knew the hearts of men. He knew what it was His Father was showing Him. He spoke from a position of mercy which “ triumphs over justice” . He came not to condemn the world but to save folk from it.
            Think about that a bit – if you will ….

          • Patmos

            “I see Jesus being morally inconsistent.”

            That’s because you’re retarded and a troll. You make no effort whatsoever to understand scripture, and just spew out a bunch of cut and paste arguments that you likely found on the internet. Get a life you feakin’ loser.

  • Trilemma

    Surely, people today are smart enough to figure out what’s moral and what’s immoral that they don’t need people who lived thousands of years ago to tell them. If morality comes from God then everyone needs to put down their Bible, or Quran, or Veda, or Book of Mormon, or Talmud, or catechism, or whatever, and listen to God.

    • kenneth20754

      How do you propose that we “listen to God”?

      • Trilemma

        One way is thoughtful meditation. How do you listen to God?

        • kenneth20754

          How do you verify that the results of your meditations are from God?

          • Trilemma

            With experience one learns to recognize the difference between God’s voice and one’s own inner voice.

          • kenneth20754

            How do you verify that the results of your meditations are from God and not some other source (excluding your own inner voice, as you say)?

          • Trilemma

            The results of listening to God can only be verified through experience. My inner voice would include any other voices you might believe exist. Once one can listen to God that can be used to verify or nullify anything the Bible or any other holy book says. Holy books must conform to what God says and not the other way around.

            How do you listen to God?

          • kenneth20754

            In other words, your inward experience of the voice of “God” is radically subjective and usefully supersedes any external or objective check.

          • Trilemma

            Nothing humans do or experience is without subjectivity therefore there is no such thing as an objective check. The more one practices listening to God the better one gets st it.

            How do you listen to God?

          • kenneth20754

            There are degrees of objectivity and subjectivity. Some things are objectively true everywhere and for all people at all times.

          • Trilemma

            I agree there are degrees of subjectivity. What would you consider to be an objective check for something I believed God said to me? Can you give me an objective moral truth that is true for all people everywhere for all time?

            How do you listen to God?

          • Stuart

            An objective moral truth that is true for all people everywhere for all time: It’s wrong to torture babies for fun.

          • porcupineman1454

            Answer the question “how do you listen to God?” that this person has asked you 10 times, why dontcha.

          • kenneth20754

            You are welcome to do so, if you wish. But this is T’s MO–it’s a distractor. He wants to take the pressure off himself.

  • Thomopolous

    The words and beliefs of this man are devoid of any truth. We have the God-Breathed Word as our guide to delineate our course through morality. Nothing else is, was or will ever be comparable to the undeniable truth of scripture. You need only meditate daily on any portion to obtain the eternal wisdom that is promised. God is, was and will forever be true to His Word.

    • Trilemma

      In the Bible, God condones chattel slavery and the kidnap, enslavement and rape of women. Do you believe those are morally right?

      • Thomopolous

        Please site the relative passage(s), historical context and biblical characters involved.

        • Trilemma

          Here is God condoning chattel slavery.

          ”Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. – Leviticus 25:44-46 NIV

          If a person is someone’s property for life they are a chattel slave.

          Here is God condoning the kidnap, enslavement and rape of women.

          When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. – Deuteronomy 21:10-11 NIV

          If a captive woman is taken home and made a wife against her will then she has been kidnapped, enslaved and raped.

          • Thomopolous

            God is OMNIPOTENT. The books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy transpired during a brief but critical time in Israel’s history. His directives were for that specific time. The New Testament abolished the law and Jesus bore all of the past judgements and trials God used to train His people at the cross.

          • Trilemma

            Supposedly, Moses delivered the law around 1500 BC. That would mean the law contained in Leviticus and Deuteronomy applied for 1500 years. Hardly a brief time. You said, ” You need only meditate daily on any portion to obtain the eternal wisdom that is promised.” What eternal wisdom do you obtain from the verses I quoted? How are these verses our guide to delineate our course through morality?

          • Stuart

            The OT law actually only applied to the Jews in the context of their covenant with God at the time. While passage you cited in Leviticus 25 indicates slavery (or as some translate the word “bondservant”) is allowed, if you have look at the entirety of the OT law you see that there were strict requirements for the treatment of people in this situation. Slaves/bondservants were to be treated with respect, not abused, or tortured, etc. The concept of “slavery” in the OT under the Mosaic law was much different than what we think of in modern terms.

            Re: Deut 21:10-11, I’m not sure how you came to the conclusion that this passage indicates God condones the kidnap, enslavement, and rape of women. The remainder of that section sets some specific laws, including that a man may not sell or take advantage of a woman taken as a wife in this situation.

            It’s perfectly fine to challenge what is written in the Bible. But if you’re going to be honest and fair about your critiques, you need to read things completely and in their cultural context. Cherry picking a few verses isn’t intellectually honest.

          • Trilemma

            The verses I quoted condone chattel slavery and was exactly what we think of in modern terms. All the other verses are talking about debt slavery and those slaves were to be treated with respect and not abused or treated harshly. Also, Israelites could not be chattel slaves and had to be freed after a period of time. Chattel slaves were never released but were property for life.

            If a woman was forced to be a man’s wife against her will then it was kidnap, enslavement and rape regardless of the procedure and requirements that followed. Letting the woman mourn for a period doesn’t make everything okay.

            If the Bible describes objective morality, then these verses must describe objective morality and are moral for all cultures for all time.

          • Stuart

            Short answer, yes. Leviticus and the rest of the Mosaic law only apply to the Jews in the context of their covenant with God at that time. This is why modern-day Christians are no longer obligated to follow the Mosaic law. We are under a new covenant vis-a-vis Jesus of Nazareth.

          • Trilemma

            Then shouldn’t people stop using Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 to condemn homosexuality? Since certain foods are no longer detestable shouldn’t a man having sex with a man no longer be detestable?

          • Stuart

            This is actually a very good question. The Mosaic Law is generally divided into three categories: ceremonial laws, civil laws, and moral laws. The dietary restrictions fall under ceremonial laws. There is clear teaching in the New Testament that these dietary restrictions are no longer in force, along with the ceremonial laws and civil laws. There is also clear teaching in the New Testament that some aspects of the moral laws *are* still in force, including the prohibition on homosexual conduct and other sexual sins. Just because Christians (and Jews, although they would disagree) are no longer obligated to follow the OT law doesn’t mean, for example, it’s ok for us to go around murdering people. Murder is wrong because it’s a universal moral law. We’re obligated to follow those rules, but not simply because they’re in the OT.

            The last thing I’ll say is, Brown’s article above, and the broader point about Christianity and Christian teaching is it’s not about “following the rules.” None of us are perfect, and we all mess up. It’s about the grace we find through placing our trust in Jesus. And it’s about the grace Christians should show others who are struggling with sin. But this doesn’t mean we can walk around willfully, purposefully ignoring what God has clearly stated about how we should be living our lives.

          • Trilemma

            The Bible does not divide the Mosaic Law into three categories. That’s something people arbitrarily did to make it easier to talk about. If God says don’t do a certain sexual act then that means the sexual act is immoral. Therefore the prohibition is part of the moral law. If God says do not mix material in fabrics then it would be immoral to mix materials in fabrics. Therefore the prohibition is part of the moral law. How do you decide which of the moral laws still apply and which ones don’t?

          • Stuart

            Sure, there isn’t a passage or section of the OT that says, “Here are the three categories of the Mosaic Law”, but any Jewish Rabbi or Christian scholar will tell you that these are, in fact, how the OT Law is divided, and these divisions are not arbitrary. I’m afraid you’re simply mistaken on this point.

            Understanding which or the moral laws still apply and which one’s don’t is a matter of reading the New Testament. One simply has to study the teachings of Jesus and the writings of the apostles to understand the moral obligations that apply to Christians today.

            I’m curious, Trilemma, are you a Christian?

          • Trilemma

            I’m a theistic rationalist.

          • Stuart

            Interesting. Can you unpack that for me? Are you a theistic rationalist along the lines of Jefferson or Ashley-Cooper?

          • Trilemma

            I don’t know the beliefs of these two men well enough to be able to favor one or the other. These two paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on theistic rationalism adequately describe me.

            Theistic rationalists believe natural religion, Christianity, and rationalism typically coexist compatibly, with rational thought balancing the conflicts between the first two aspects. They often assert that the primary role of a person’s religion should be to bolster morality, a fixture of daily life.

            Theistic rationalists believe that God plays an active role in human life, rendering prayer effective. They accept parts of the Bible as divinely inspired, using reason as their criterion for what to accept or reject. Their belief that God intervenes in human affairs and their approving attitude toward parts of the Bible distinguish theistic rationalists from Deists.

          • Stuart

            Thanks for that explanation. I’m curious which parts of the Bible you accept as true and accurate, and how you make the determination.

  • Dena

    If everyone defined morality based on how they feel, there would be no moral absolutes. The definition of “what is moral” would keep changing. That’s why we need the Bible.

  • Stephen D

    What makes people like Tim Cook deeply sinister is the fact that they use the language of morality – words like ‘right’, ‘wrong’ and ‘sin’ – to promote evil. Tim Cook is appropriating moral language to give credibility to what is in reality an abomination in the sight of God.

  • Stuart

    Do you accept or reject Jesus of Nazareth’s claims to be God?

  • Stuart

    There are many, but instead of getting into a debate about specific passages, let me ask you this question: Why was Jesus executed? In other words, why did the Jewish leaders demand that the Romans crucify him?

  • Stuart

    What specific passages lead you to that conclusion?

  • Stuart

    This passage follows his resurrection of Lazarus. This raises another question, do you believe Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? Also, what do you make of passages like John 10:30-33, where the Jews said they wanted to stone him for blasphemy and “because you, being a man, make yourself out to be God” ?

    • disqus_O6yutViIdq

      disqus_Vb0ZaNyG8o wrote

  • Stuart

    I’m a little confused. You cite John 11:45-53 in support of the Jews wanting to have Jesus killed, but you’re skeptical of the event that was the whole pretext for them wanting to kill him in the first place, the resurrection of Lazarus. Why are you skeptical of the miracle, but not skeptical the Jews wanted to kill him?

    Regarding extra-Biblical sources for the miracles of Jesus, there are a couple. In writing about Jesus and the early Christians, Tacitus speaks about “a most mischievous superstition” which many scholars say is a reference to the resurrection (Tacitus obviously doesn’t believe this, but he wrote about the belief that some had). The Babylonian Talmud speaks of a desire to stone Jesus because he had practiced “sorcery.” While these aren’t detailed examples, they provide an inference that some sorts of miraculous events surrounded the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

    Regarding the John 10 passage, the text states that the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of blasphemy and that he was “claiming to be God”. Not “a god”. John uses the Greek word “Theos” in its singular form at the end of Verse 33 and it’s not proceeded by the article “ho” (cf: v.35). There are several other examples where Jesus claimed the OT title “I am” of Yahweh, he accepted worship, he forgave sins, and put himself equal with God.

  • Stuart

    Whether or not there are objective moral laws is independent to whether or not people actually believe them. This is the difference between epistemology and ontology. Are you denying that it is objectively wrong to torture babies for fun?

  • Stuart

    There are several NT accounts that are only found in one of the Gospels. That doesn’t diminish the historical reliability of the account. Raising Lazarus was one of the pretexts for the Jews wanting to have Jesus killed, but it wasn’t the only one. But my question still stands: You say you doubt the resurrection account, yet you cited it as one of the reasons for the Jews wanting to kill him. Please explain.

    Re: historians writing about what people believed: I actually agree with you. People’s belief about something isn’t proof the miracles actually happened. But historians writing within a couple of decades after the Gospels were finished demonstrate these accounts were very early–far too early for them to be legendary. The extra-Biblical sources add to the overall historical accuracy of the Gospels.

    Final point: I think your understanding of Greek is off. If you read verse 33 in context, it’s clear the Jews were accusing Jesus of blasphemy in his claiming to *be God*. Not “a god.” But rather than debating this particular passage, I’ll simply assert what 2,000 years of Christian teaching and 400+ years of Greek-to-English translation show: Jesus claimed to be God. You can say it ain’t so, but you’re not arguing with me; you’re arguing with a vast number of scholars, both critical and conservative, who have also reached this conclusion.

  • Stuart

    You’re asking an epistemological question (how do we know). I’m making an ontological claim (there is). If there are no objective moral laws, then it being wrong to torture babies for fun is simply your opinion. Why is anyone obliged to agree with you?

    Don’t get me wrong, I think you’re asking a very important question (how do we know what any objective moral laws are). But if there are no objective moral laws, then it’s just one person’s opinion over another as far as what is “right” or “good”. There is no outside, external (i.e.: objective) standard by which we are to judge.

  • Stuart

    Perhaps I misunderstood you. When I asked for a passage that supported your claim that the Jews wanted to have Jesus killed because he upset the “status quo”, you provided John 11:45-53. While this passage in isolation, speaks to a Jewish “status quo” concern, I pointed out that this is directly proceeded by the account of Lazarus’ resurrection. You responded you were skeptical of the miracle claims. My point is (was) that the entire narrative of John 11 is something you have to take in total. This is a complete account, and must be taken as a whole. If you say you doubt the part of account that speaks of the resurrection, but you accept at face value the part that speaks about the response of the Jewish leaders, this seem to me to be an unjustified bias.

    Re: The dating of John’s Gospel, there are some scholars that date it to the 90’s, but others believe it was written before AD 70. Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple, but we don’t find any NT writer (including John) mentioning this. That would have been an important confirmation to include had John’s gospel been completed after AD 70. Also, John writes in the present tense when writing about the sheep gate and the pool of Bethesda (Ch.5). There are other stylistic and linguist clues for early dating, as well as other evidence (way too much to include here).

    Re: the Greek…good question, and that’s way past my level of knowledge of Greek grammar, but I did talk with a friend who does speak Greek. It’s based on the case of the word. For the noun ‘theos’ (and in its various forms, theon, theou, etc.) the accusative and genitive cases are translated “God” (big G) whereas the nominative case is translated “god” or “gods” (little g). There are other rules as well, placement or absence of certain articles, etc.

  • Stuart

    So the majority decides what is morally good?

  • Stuart

    I have to confess, I’m really confused now. You seem to be saying you believe in God, but you don’t believe God is the standard of objective morality and there is no such thing as objective morality. If the majority of people decide what is morally good, then by what moral standard can the minority oppose anything? In the 1700 and 1800’s, the majority of people in the world supported slavery. A small minority, lead by the likes of William Wilberforce, started a movement to change that. But what you’re saying is that would be morally wrong. I don’t think for a moment that you believe slavery is morally good, but do you see the problem here? The majority of the Muslim world believes that it is ok to subjugate women. Does that mean it’s morally good for this to happen in Muslim cultures?

  • Stuart

    I’m not claiming that Jesus’ miracles were the main reason the religious leaders wanted him killed, but it was a factor (cf: John 11:47). And I do agree that Jesus “upsetting the status quo” was one of the other factors. What was going on was typical “politics” with an interior reason of Jesus’ so-called blasphemy claiming to be God & the Messiah before the Jewish High Council (cf: Matt 26:57-68, Matt 27:1-2, Mark 14:53-65, Luke 22:66-70) and an exterior reason the Jews gave to Pilate that Jesus was “stirring up the crowds” (cf: Mark 14:10-11 is a very telling passage). The Romans couldn’t care one whit about Jesus or his offending the Jews religious sensibilities. And the Jews knew a charge of “blasphemy” to Pilate wouldn’t carry much weight (but clearly, this was what sent them over the edge). Publicly to Pilate, they tried to make Jesus into some kind of revolutionary, which is what they hoped would work. In the end, Pilate acquiesced to the crowds and the Jewish leaders because he didn’t want a revolution on his watch.

    I don’t see how you come to the conclusion that Jesus didn’t perform miracles and if he had actually done so, this would have made the religious leaders less apt to want to have him killed.

    Re: “editing” of the NT. This is something I’m actually well studied in (textual criticism). Yes, there are some accounts, such as the woman caught in adultery, the long ending of Mark, etc., that were added later (by the way, this doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t actually happen, just that they weren’t in the original autographs). The reason scholars know this is because of the thousands of copies of various parts and whole books of the NT we have. The textual evidence we have *does not* show the miracles or deity of Christ were added as “legendary” later on. And by the way, this includes the writings of the early church fathers in the early second century. They quoted vast amounts of the NT, including the miracles and teachings about Christ’s deity. It’s not possible for them to be quoting something that was altered or added after they were alive. The gospels and epistles had to be written and widely circulating in the ANE before the likes of Clement, Justin Martyr, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Polycarp, and Papias were teaching on them in the late first and early second century.

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