EASTER IN RETROSPECT

The resurrection has always seemed to me as an event with potential rather than an event acomplished. Has Christ really risen for someone who lives their whole life unaware of the fact? If so why bother to tell anyone?
If not is there only one valid way of reacting, because there certainly are many versions of Christianity, many so different that they appear to be following different Gods and even different Christs.
(If those attempting an answer go do this without excessively long quotations from scripture this would be appreciated. Just get straight to the point!)

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18 Responses to EASTER IN RETROSPECT

  1. Cherel says:

    But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
    1 Corinthians 15:20

    There is one body and one Spirit—…one hope…—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:5-6

    But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? Romans 10:14

    The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith… Gal 3:8

    And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

  2. peddiebill says:

    Yes – at least this time you chose short quotes.(I dont know how to do smiley faces but imagine one here)
    However since the quotes head in different directions all is not entirely clear.
    The ones asleep in the Corinthians quote are presumably either those who have died (some of whom were resurrected in the Matthew account ) or those who havent heard.
    The Romans quote says they wont get to hear about it until someone tells them – (which for a good part of the population is not happening).
    Matthew says that they will hear – and when they have heard the end will come. Since many are not hearing presumably that means the end is not likely to be any time soon.
    But none of the quotes address the question as to whether there is only one valid way of reacting to the news. ie are the various forms of Christianity equally valid?

  3. Cherel says:

    I felt the quotes responded to your statement including the one you left out. It says there are not “many” forms of Christianity.

    There is one body and one Spirit—…one hope…—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:5-6

    All true believers are a part of the body of Christ, have the same Spirit, and the same faith. Denominations and sects do not represent “different forms of Christianity” any more then people of different colors and languages represent different races of humans. There is one human race with one blood exhibiting many genetic variables. There is one body of Christ (form of Christianity) manifesting through many doctrinal facets. The Cross: Salvation through the blood of Jesus Christ by faith is the central doctine of all true Christians.

    Paul also made it clear there is no other gospel.

    Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—… To the churches in Galatia: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! Gal 1:1-9

    Succinctly, there is only one way to respond to the gospel and that is to accept it by faith. Jesus died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life. Jesus said, “…unless you believe that I Am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” How much clearer could it be?

  4. peddiebill says:

    I suspect if you read a little more Church history and even my post on four Gods you would see that there is actually quite good evidence that the different versions of God different groups have may actually be supported by evidence no matter what ought theoretically be the case. If you are certain Christians all have the same faith, then why are you so frequently concerned my version of Christianity is not the right one?
    I must admit I am a little uncomfortable about using Bible quotations to prove a point, because the quotations usually have a different purpose in their original form. For example it is hard to avoid the assumption that by your choosing Paul’s quotation from Galatians as necessary for my correction that now you now have me deserting Jesus because I have listened to false teachers, which no doubt should be added to your previous assessments of me – eg only fit to be the Church janitor and wasting my time on drivel! All because I dare to ask questions and try to get people thinking.
    Well as it happens I do listen to religious teaching from people who show integrity in their lives ie those who practice what they preach. They may be false teachers to you, but they convince me anyway. If this then was your intended meaning by choosing the Galatians quote, you have not met those I have learned from, so to consider them false teachers without even knowing who they are or what they have told me seems a little odd. Paul at least knew the situation he was writing to. I have never met you and cannot judge you on that basis – although from numerous posts you appear to be happy to judge me, knowing nothing of my walk of faith – or even what I preach. When I read “Judge not lest you yourself be judged” I attempt to take it quite seriously but I must confess part of the reason why I am not convinced by your arguments is because I am guessing from your attitude to me and what you have said about people of other faiths that you are judgemental. I certainly feel judged by you. However I freely admit you may well have many redeeming features I dont know about. I am sorry if I have jumped to a judgemental conclusion! But regarding this tendency to quote scripture at me. Remember I said in an earlier reply that when someone who I believe has integrity quotes scripture I listen. When I have not seen that integrity in practice I am cautious. Try to help me here. Tell me a little more of your integrity. You tell me that you actually love Islamic people despite the low opinion you have of their faith. Tell me how they know that….ie what do you actually do to express that love? Do you often invite them in for a meal.?..and when you do have them in your home do you actually listen to them or do you tell them what is wrong with their faith? When Christians – or even atheists tell you that they have doubts do you really tell them as you have told me they are talking drivel and answer them by selectively quoting the Bible at them. If Thomas expressed his doubts, then having satisfied them went on to establish the Church in South India whereas Judas expressed no doubts and some of the other disciples also with no doubts were never heard of again – why is it that you get so cross with me and my doubts. CS Lewis had doubts. Mother Teresa had doubts – big doubts. I admire them for their integrity. Jimmy Swaggart had no doubts. His actions showed hypocrisy. George Bush had no doubts God was telling him to invade Iraq. That one didnt turn out too well – particularly for the Christian communities in Iraq, or those tortured in the name of freedom. Having no doubts may not be the only factor in establishing a worthwhile faith. Here is question – if Satan exists, would he have had any doubt about what Jesus stood for?

  5. Judi says:

    I can totally understand not wanting to listen to people you disrespect, like Jimmy Swaggart (I’m with you there). But you need not listen to him or anyone, especially not to me or Cherel to decide if you will believe the scriptures or not. Be no longer halting between two opinions.

    I too have many doubts, in myself, but not in God. There are plenty of things I don’t understand, like Calvinism versus Armenianism. And things I wish weren’t so, like hell. But I don’t think so highly of myself as to decide that what I don’t understand or like is therefore not true.

    You take reliance on scripture as some great confidence in ourselves, far from it! And you take agreement with scripture as judgmental. His word is true whether I agree with it, like it, or put it into practice, or not. I am the one with everything to gain or lose based on my willingness to align myself with God’s word. Understanding this truth, it’s my desire to see others understand and appropriate all of God’s goodness and grace while they have life in their bodies to do it. I don’t see this as judgmental, but loving and merciful. I’m for people, all people, not against them. Satan is the great accuser, while Jesus is the comforter, justifier, and redeemer of ALL who believe. Therefore, let us all believe!

    By the way, regarding Satan, he does exist. Regarding his opinion of Jesus, it’s of no significance.

    And I don’t ever remember George Bush giving a speech about God telling him to invade Iraq. I suspect he had his own reasons for going in quite apart from God. I’m no fan so I’ll leave it at that.

    Regarding Thomas, you seem to forget that he did not perpetually remain in doubt. When he saw the evidence he was reasonable enough to believe, then he went on to proclaim God’s truth with great faith.

    I must admit I am a little uncomfortable listing good deeds for any reason. However I don’t hesitate to use Bible quotations to prove a point, because the quotations usually have just that purpose in their original form.

    You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work. 2 Timothy 3:15-17

  6. peddiebill says:

    Presumably, when the second letter to Timothy containing the key phrase about all scripture being inspired by God was written, it was a letter not scripture. The decision to make it scripture actually came many years later – on a narrow majority at a Church Council. If the words were intended as scripture to give them authority that they wouldnt otherwise have, I can solve your problems that you have in accepting my writing in a single sentence. “My writing is inspired by God.” Does that really make it inspired? Scripture perhaps? Remarkable. Or perhaps I had better wait for the next Church council.
    I think you have missed the point about Satan. If Satan does believe the same things about Jesus as you believe, then surely it isnt the existance of the belief that is sufficient to make a Christian.
    I know you are uncomfortable admitting your good deeds…. that is as it should be. My question about entertaining Islamic people had a different purpose. I simply want to know if Cherel’s claim to love Islamic people had any substance. Purely on the somewhat unfair basis of previous contacts with confident self claimed “born agains” who have told me they love everyone yet whose lives seemed remarkably lacking in sympathy for people who had a different faith story, I was merely wondering if she (and you) fitted what I was beginning to suspect the pattern to be. After all if you are presuming to instruct me, you must at a minimum be ahead of where I already am in my journey. Remember why Gandhi turned down the chance to become a Christian. Insisting to me that your path is better than my path and that you know better than me wont quite do it. Even quoting scriptures at me wont do it since I already read them. I need evidence otherwise why else would I want to change to follow your good example. The last man who told me he was led by God and that God was telling him what to say to me exhibited frequent bursts of rage and many of the symptoms of religious mania. He read his scriptures frequently but his life showed none of the signs of the spirit. Should I have taken his advice about the Bible? The test of integrity is always: is the life lived consistent with the self claims? Because I cant meet you in person, the next best thing is your giving an outline of the sorts of things your faith causes you to do.
    As it happens I cannot say I love people of other faiths but at least I can number some of them among my personal friends. I realise this is only a start on the journey towards love. If you are indeed equipped to do every good work (cf: 2 Timothy 3: 17)…then surely you must be getting around to starting the good deeds by now.

  7. peddiebill says:

    Sorry Judi, you say that you dont remember George Bush saying anything about God telling him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq. Honestly I was not making it up.
    This was published on Friday, October 7, 2005 by the respected British Newspaper, The Independent
    Bush: God Told Me to Invade Iraq
    President ‘revealed reasons for war in private meeting’
    by Rupert Cornwell

    President George Bush has claimed he was told by God to invade Iraq and attack Osama bin Laden’s stronghold of Afghanistan as part of a divine mission to bring peace to the Middle East, security for Israel, and a state for the Palestinians.

    George Bush believes he is on a mission from God, according to the politician Nabil Shaath.
    The President made the assertion during his first meeting with Palestinian leaders in June 2003, according to a BBC series which will be broadcast this month.

    The revelation comes after Mr Bush launched an impassioned attack yesterday in Washington on Islamic militants, likening their ideology to that of Communism, and accusing them of seeking to “enslave whole nations” and set up a radical Islamic empire “that spans from Spain to Indonesia”. In the programmeElusive Peace: Israel and the Arabs, which starts on Monday, the former Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Shaath says Mr Bush told him and Mahmoud Abbas, former prime minister and now Palestinian President: “I’m driven with a mission from God. God would tell me, ‘George, go and fight those terrorists in Afghanistan.’ And I did, and then God would tell me, ‘George go and end the tyranny in Iraq,’ and I did.”

    And “now again”, Mr Bush is quoted as telling the two, “I feel God’s words coming to me: ‘Go get the Palestinians their state and get the Israelis their security, and get peace in the Middle East.’ And by God, I’m gonna do it.”

    Mr Abbas remembers how the US President told him he had a “moral and religious obligation” to act. The White House has refused to comment on what it terms a private conversation. But the BBC account is anything but implausible, given how throughout his presidency Mr Bush, a born-again Christian, has never hidden the importance of his faith.

    From the outset he has couched the “global war on terror” in quasi-religious terms, as a struggle between good and evil. Al-Qa’ida terrorists are routinely described as evil-doers. For Mr Bush, the invasion of Iraq has always been part of the struggle against terrorism, and he appears to see himself as the executor of the divine will. ………
    (With much more of the same sort of stuff)

  8. Cherel says:

    My comments on the unity of the faith are not theoretical at all, they are straight from scripture. Jesus said, and the Bible confirms, there is only one way to be saved and it is by accepting what Jesus accomplished on the cross for mankind. He died for our sins. He made it clear in the Garden of Gethsemane that if there had been any other way He wouldn’t have gone to the cross. He asked the Father “if it was possible” to deliver Him from it and then yeilded because there was no other way.

    So, the reason I am concerned about what you teach in the name of Christianity is exactly the same as Paul’s concern expressed in Galatians. I’m concerned because the gospel can be perverted and people can be led astray. The content of the “news” being shared with others matters. Since there is only one way to be saved, teaching otherwise leaves people in darkness: not saved! If they are not saved, they aren’t Christians no matter what they call themselves.

    This is the point I’m trying to make that you miss. It doesn’t matter what title people go by currently or in church history, salvation is real and the lack thereof is real also. Many will perish who are associated with Christian organizations because they don’t believe the truth and are not born again into God’s family. Jesus, Himself, talked about the wheat and the tares growing together until the time of the eternal harvest.

    I do not hesitate to quote scripture because it is our standard. To fail to use scripture in a theological discussion would be like a carpenter refusing to use his measuring tape while building a house. I wouldn’t care to live in it because it would be unsafe, I’m sure. And a life built on a skewed concept of God’s Word is unsafe (unsaved) as well.

    I do not judge you, but the Word reveals the errors in your teaching. When you refuse to acknowledge the veracity or reliabiliity of scripture it judges you. From your writings I gather that you do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. You do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God (God in the flesh). You question the death and resurrection of Jesus and what that accomplished. You deny that Jesus created all things which is clearly stated in scripture. You question the very nature of God and have no comprehensive understanding of His immutable Godly Perfections as revealed in the Old and New Testaments. You even question the existence of Satan whom Jesus saw fall from heaven. And, you do not testify of having been born again which Jesus said is a requirement to be saved. So, I do not have to judge you to say I do not believe you are a Christian. You don’t “really” claim to be.

    The things that you don’t believe disqualify you as a teacher or preacher of the gospel and Paul, himself, would warn against sitting under your teaching if he were alive and aware of you. That is why I asked you for clarification of your position in the church– whether you were actually teaching or were a custodian. The custodian position would be better for you because you wouldn’t have to give account to God for leading people astray.

    Nowhere in scripture are doubts are encouraged. The Bible teaches us to believe the truth and stand on it confidently. When John the Baptist had doubts in prison, Jesus told his disciples to tell him of all the miracles he was performing (which fulfilled scriptures John knew) so that John’s faith would be strengthened. Paul warns against getting into discussions with those who have a weak faith (weak consciences) and leading them into further doubts which could lead to a loss of salvation. “he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6NIV

    Many examples from scripture could be shared of encouraging others in faith. I don’t know of any scriptures encouraging doubt. You specialize in raising questions that can lead to doubts rather than faith. So, I have to question your motives and who you actually reperesent.

    If you would spend more time in the Word rather than in extrabiblical writings which deny its veracity, you might have the blinders lifted from your eyes and come to a clear understanding of the one true faith which alone leads to life. That’s my hope and prayer for you and for your readers.

  9. peddiebill says:

    My father, a doctor, once examined a patient who arrived in a beautiful dress makeup and highheels for his medical exam for his flying licence. I learned years later from my father’s nurse that he had written on the man’s medical certificate.
    “I find this man perfectly fit to fly, and have absolutely no intention of flying with him.”
    While I hope I have become more broad-minded than my father, it occurs to me that I would like to say something similar about your faith. I am sure it is fine in every respect. I have no intention of flying with it.
    Since I made a decision to follow Christ as a teenager at an Easter camp I am technically saved in the sense you keep talking about. It is just I see that decision as the act of waking up. Getting up and facing the realities of the day is what should come next and I find it hard to pretend I should stay in bed and talk forever about getting up.
    Your insistence that I should stay back with the focus on the salvation process and pretend I havent learned anything about science or the background to scripture or assume I should not identify and do something about social and justice issues I find curious but certainly not a version of faith I am even slightly interested in. For better or for worse I have studied much in science and now totally reject your simplistic views on evolution and the age of the Earth. I cant pretend not to know about what I now see as genuine contradictions and flaws in the Bible just because you dont know about such difficulties.
    To go to a place where I was saying all scripture is inspired when I know places there are Bible passages which show this not to be the case, would be dishonest -but I stress that is for me. If you have not encountered convincing detail that leads you to the same conclusion as me- it would be equally dishonest for you to change your position. To ask you four times if your love for Islamic people extends to inviting them into your home to extend genuine friendship and each time get an extended Bible based answer to a question I have not asked makes me suspect we differ on how we interpret Agape. I am actually suspecting that yours would be a church where there would be little support for liberal Christians, for homosexuals, for drug addicts, for those of other faiths etc. I dont have a problem with that, it is just that this is not how I prefer Church to be. I enjoy my Buddhist and Hindu friends. I prefer a Church that takes a genuine interest in issues of justice, bioethics, aid etc. You are clearly happy with your Church as I am with mine. I am sure you fit well into a monocultural, literalist and exclusivist faith – but as I said before I have no intention of flying with you.

  10. Has Christ risen for the one who has not heard? I guess the answer is no, just as antibiotics have not been invented for those who have no access to them.

    Is there only one valid way of reacting to the resurrection? It seems to me that there’s only one way that will do a person any good, just as there’s only one way antibiotics will do someone any good.

    Bill, appreciate your questions. We’ve struggled with some of the same issues. Although we’ve come to different conclusions, I enjoy being pushed to think through why I believe what I believe. Keep on asking and seeking — sounds like something Jesus would say. 😉

    One more thing. I nearly laugh out loud every time I see your Facebook picture. “Abstinence not 100% effective.” Thanks again. — Mark

    • peddiebill says:

      Great to get encouragement. Thanks.
      You are also one of my few comment writing visitors who seem to relate well to my intended purposes for the site. Rather than wanting to open thinking to new areas many seem to want to force me to conform to their set views and resent my questions. Mind you, Socrates didnt have much joy with his questions either.

  11. Judi says:

    I could see your point about NT letters being scripture a little more if you at least believed in the inspiration of the OT. Jesus himself quoted extensively from the OT, however if you doubt the NT then how in the world do we know what Jesus said at all?

    I’ll agree that believing alone isn’t the complete picture. In a way Satan certainly believes, as James said, demons believe and tremble. According to Galatians, the important thing is faith expressing itself in love. I would simply contend that you must have faith and love together.

    Of course I understood that you wanted to know if we were entertaining Islamic people in our own homes, but I don’t personally know any, or Hindus either for that matter. Not to say that they aren’t really nice people, but seriously, I live in Tennessee and haven’t met any. The opinions I’ve formed of Muslims have nothing to do with personal animosity. I have compared their ideology to scripture and found it to be incompatible. I also have deep sympathy for women and children caught up in a system that keeps them in such abject servitude. How can anyone leaning into human rights quarrel with that?

    The easiest and most pleasing thing in the world to do would be to say it’s all good. I
    mean, who really wants to exclude or offend people? In the words of Oprah, what does it matter what path I take or what I call it as long as I end up at the same place you do (presumably to a happy loving life)? I would just point to Islam as a great example of how it doesn’t work out so well on all of these paths supposedly headed in the same loving direction. If you can’t bring yourself to see that, I shall be forced to chop off your head. Oh, wait, sorry, wrong holy book. Anyway…

    I see you’ve had some bad experiences with people who claim a deep faith, frankly, who hasn’t? We’ve all been hurt by people, but this makes no difference in my opinion. Not everyone who claims Jesus as Lord, according to Jesus himself, is in relationship with Him and even those who are in relationship with Him are still works in progress. Regardless, I have to give account for my life and that’s my primary concern. I’ve found a foundation in Jesus Christ that no one can take away from me and I’d rather rest on His word than any person’s, be it scientist or philosopher.

    I find that you have mentored yourself well. You have chosen certain role models that you identify with and feel comfortable following, and emulated them. I too have done this. Your role models have, as you put it, honest doubts. I read about each of those you mentioned in a previous blog, and from that I understand more of where you’re coming from. The role models I look too may give you more clarity on where I’m coming from.

    I accepted Christ as a very young child. I remember it vividly. My dad was pastoring and evidently we didn’t have a nursery or children’s church because I remember being in services and listening to him preach even then. I felt deeply convicted of sin (though I’m not sure what I could have done wrong at that age) and very much afraid of hell (though my dad’s style is far from fire and brimstone – he’s more of a big teddy bear who loves everybody and doesn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings).

    Although I always knew I was a Christian, and my mom (Cherel) read the scriptures to me a lot as a child, I didn’t really grasp the practicalities of Christianity until I was about 13 years old and started reading scripture for myself. The first passages I remember standing out to me were Matthew chapters 5-7. That’s when the beauty of Christ came alive for me.

    I was taunted by fellow students in elementary school, simply because they knew I didn’t fight back. I was regularly followed on my long walk home from the bus stop, often kicked, scratched (once even bitten) by kids in my neighborhood. I didn’t retaliate because I was trained to literally turn the other cheek, but in my heart I took secret delight in imagining their harm. When I began to read the scriptures myself I realized that this was wrong, that it’s the heart that matters, not just the actions. So I repented, prayed for the salvation of my fellow students and began learning to truly love my enemies.

    All that to say, from an early age I have mainly mentored myself after biblical figures and ideals, including Jesus, Job, Psalms & Proverbs, Abraham, Samuel, Joseph, David, Esther, James, John, etc. I’ve also mentored myself after believers like Corrie ten Boom, Amy Carmichael, Elizabeth Eliot, John Wesley, G. K. Chesterton, Charles Spurgeon, D. L. Moody, etc. None of that to say that I measure up to them, but rather that I’d like to, that’s my goal.

    I agree that the test of integrity is a consistently lived life. I often feel and pray as David did, Lord please don’t give up on me! David’s life and faith gives me great hope because he was all too human, but he passionately loved God and found His favor. However, my faith in Jesus Christ does cause me to do certain things. I was converted at a very early age as I mentioned, and this conversion has held throughout my life. I wasn’t a rebellious teenager, didn’t go my own way or fall into any vices as a young person, etc. Regarding all the outward observances of the law no one can fault me. But Jesus’ standard, or the spirit of the law of love, is quite high and I strive constantly to achieve it, knowing myself to be inadequate. Praise God for His mercy and grace!

    As a Christian there are certain things I do that I’m fairly confident most Christians are doing, such as tithing to my local church, giving regularly to various charities and causes, giving personally to people in need, participating in church related activities and special events in the community, entertaining people in my home with meals and lodging when helpful, aiding and praying for persecuted believers around the world, praying for the peace of Israel, etc.

    I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to smuggle bibles into China (and meet with the underground pastors there who are regularly persecuted, imprisoned and even tortured for Christ’s sake – hence my great abhorrence of China’s human rights record).

    My husband and I have also taken various foster children into our home in the past, and been blessed in the last few years with three adopted biracial children. I feel like a fool to mention these things, because they don’t matter at all in and of themselves. But they are matters of common knowledge to anyone who knows me, and may give some context to the way my faith impacts my life.

    My question for you is, how do you personally determine right and wrong? Are there certain self-evident truths apart from scripture? Are there any shared moral beliefs among all people? Are there any absolutes at all, or are we ethically adrift in this life?

    • Katargeo says:

      Peter refers to Paul’s writings as Scripture.

      2 Peter 3:15-16 (New International Version, ©2011)

      15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

      The phrase “other scriptures” in the Greek refers to others of the same kind, and most scholars agree that Paul’s writings were considered by the end of the first century as authoritative. The Canon although not officially accepted at that time was widely agreed on by most churches for the vast majority of the NT writings.

      The bigger problem for most people today is that they don’t want to be bound by any sense of objective truth. The prefer Post-modern type of liberal relativism because it allows them to live any kind of lives they want. They are like Pilate in asking, “What is truth?” They can argue about the existence of truth in order to hide their own immorality and corruption. Pilate didn’t want to believe in objective truth because he knew he was in the middle of legal corruption in condemning an inoccent man to death. I suspect that the majority of people who dislike objective truth do it for similar reasons. If there is no objective truth, then people are free to live any way they want. Paul Johnson’s brilliant book “Intellectuals” traces the lives of some of the most famous atheists and shows quite conclusively (in my opinion) that they made decisions to go against convention morality and wisdom and any sense of ojective truth in order to support their own immorality. Even the famous humanist Aldous Huxley admitted in his own writings that he and the majority of his liberal philosopher friends chose the philosophy of meaninglessness with no sense of objective morality or moral absolutes to serve their own immoral lives.

      “I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.”

      Huxley, A., Ends and Means, pp. 270 ff.

  12. peddiebill says:

    Your question is an interesting one. I would like to think I have gone approximately through the standard Kohlberg series of moral development. As a young child I sought pleasure and avoid pain. Next I moved to a stage where I was going things because I was trying to please. Then perhaps it was the ten commandment type stage where I was trying my best to follow rules. The next stage took longer to dominate when I was trying to follow general principles like showing compassion and forgiveness. This I found harder – not because I didn’t know what it meant to forgive or to show compassion – it was just that sometimes it was easier to strike back at someone who was trying to hurt me. If I am honest I still hanker to react when someone attacks me – even if it is just a verbal attack. Absolutes in my book are things like commandments – but in practice these can only take you so far. Compassion is much trickier because sometimes the rules have to give way to situations (situational ethics).
    That is why Jesus upset so many ie he sometimes put the clear rules and agreed absolutes to one side to find a more humane way to deal with a situation. When the situation involved those who were not considered by consensus to warrant such compassion the keepers of the laws got really upset. I dont think that meant Jesus was ethically adrift – but it did mean that it was difficult to tie down the absolutes.
    I suspect that the absolutes still get in the way of the higher level situational ethics and in practice you come across this when you hear topics like abortion and homosexuality discussed by those who place rules ahead of compassion. Sometimes the most compassionate thing to do is the one you know the rules say is wrong. Mercy killing is an extreme example. I remember an incident where George McLeod was an army chaplain in a jeep with two other chaplains – all teetotalers. They entered a village and the villagers grateful for the army’s liberation rushed out to off them some alcohol. Only McLeod accepted the drink. Later his two horrified friends said “thought you were teetotal”
    “I am” said McLeod. ” I am absolutely opposed to alcohol – but someone had to be a Christian.” I prefer to think that McLeod was not ethically adrift. In fact he was operating at the level above absolutes. I concede not everyone in Tennessee would agree. (I am not surprised on reflection you havent met any Muslims in Tennessee. Purely on what I have read on opinions about Islam from Tennessee I would not be advising any Muslims to go anywhere near the State!)

  13. Katargeo says:

    Peter refers to Paul’s writings as Scripture.

    2 Peter 3:15-16 (New International Version, ©2011)

    15 Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16 He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

    The phrase “other scriptures” in the Greek refers to others of the same kind, and most scholars agree that Paul’s writings were considered by the end of the first century as authoritative. The Canon although not officially accepted at that time was widely agreed on by most churches for the vast majority of the NT writings.

    The bigger problem for most people today is that they don’t want to be bound by any sense of objective truth. The prefer Post-modern type of liberal relativism because it allows them to live any kind of lives they want. They are like Pilate in asking, “What is truth?” They can argue about the existence of truth in order to hide their own immorality and corruption. Pilate didn’t want to believe in objective truth because he knew he was in the middle of legal corruption in condemning an innocent man to death. I suspect that the majority of people who dislike objective truth do it for similar reasons. If there is no objective truth, then people are free to live any way they want. Paul Johnson’s brilliant book “Intellectuals” traces the lives of some of the most famous atheists and shows quite conclusively (in my opinion) that they made decisions to go against convention morality and wisdom and any sense of objective truth in order to support their own immorality. Even the famous humanist Aldous Huxley admitted in his own writings that he and the majority of his liberal philosopher friends chose the philosophy of meaninglessness with no sense of objective morality or moral absolutes to serve their own immoral lives.

    “I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.”

    Huxley, A., Ends and Means, pp. 270 ff.

  14. peddiebill says:

    Thanks for the comments Katargeo. Can I suggest you go back to my previous reply to Judi.
    I suspect you are still wanting to hold to the absolutes and would object to anyone moving up to the next stage of Kohlberg’s scale. To me clearly Jesus operated at the next stage as is evident in his actions and words. The absolutes (and scriptural ones at that), said things like: Dont touch lepers, dont heal on the Sabbath, dont mix with people who are not of the true faith (eg Samaritans). Clearly, as far as I can see, Jesus was comfortable with moral relativism ( or what I prefer to call situational ethics). This drove the absolutists of his day to a fury and together with Jesus being perceived as a threat to the establishment, Easter happened as a consequence.

    It is only an opinion but I am coming to think that those who insist on the absolutes are much more rigid in thinking. I dont share your view that this is always morally desirable and better than relativism, but I suppose it would at least lead to conformity which is very supportive of uniform sectarianism. Group behaviour which is clearly defined is at least comfortable within a group – but it has the disadvantage that there is less tolerance of anyone who happens to have a different set of values. For example I have noted Baptists and Brethren dont always cope easily with the fact that Hindus and Muslims are comfortable with a different faith, and are most concerned when they encounter Orthodox religions like Catholicism or worse when they encounter liberal Christianity.

    When absolutes clash there is trouble. That seems to be the case in my Church setting in New Zealand – but it may well appear different when you think about those in your setting. According to Kohlberg those liking absolutes are operating at a lower level on the moral development scale, but I suspect from your comments you would not necessarily agree.

    • Katargeo says:

      I think you misunderstand Kolberg and the idea of absolutes. There is a huge difference between believing in moral absolutes and following rigid standards of absoluteism like those practiced by the Pharisees. Kolberg believe that as one progressed up the ladder toward higher level of ethical behavior one left behind the more immature “punishment” and “reward” levels of behavior where one simply obeys a set of rules because it is prescribed by one’s religion. This type of behavior is what is practiced in more primative religions like Isalm where the orthodox followers believe that God has “spoken through his prophet” giving a set or ritualistic commandments and rituals to follow, and no one is allowed to question these “commandments” on pain of death or punishement (i.e. Blasphemy Laws) Under this primative form of religion or ethics one just “follows the rules” without questioning or thinking. One obeys because of fear not from higher moral principles. One is not encourage in these systems and ideologies to question or think deeper. For centuries in some segments of Christianity this type of thinking was also common. I for years “said my prayers” and believed in the dicates of the church without ever questioning its teachings. I still have relatives who follow this type of primative morality. If the Pope or religious leader said it, it had to be true. This lead to things like the Inquisition under the Jesuits in Europe and some pretty harsh oppression under Calvin in Geneva, Switzerland from 1542-1556 AD.
      Kohlberg saw people operating on higher levels of morality as going beyond ritual, fear of punishment, conformity etc to live by higher ethical principles. He wasn’t talking about moral relativism where a person has no set of objective prinicples to guide him/her; he was talking about things like Jesus’ sermon on the Mount where Jesus challenged the rigid, legalistic Pharisees to move beyong mere outward conformity to man made rules of men (Mark 7:6-13) toward areas that concerned inward righteusness, mercy and love. Jesus condemned formalistic, memorized prayers and rituals (Matt 6) and challenged those stuck in shallow religion to move to higher levels of maturity and spirituality. I believe Kohlberg saw this as a higher level of ethics too. Kohlber did not teach moral relativism where one abandons objective truth and moral standards. This type of moral anarchy leads to social chaos and personal ruin. Kohlberg challenged people to go beyond mere ritual and fear of punishment (i.e. memorized prayers and bowing down to Mecca 5x per day) to understand that God was looking at our hearts and not just our outward behavior. While Jesus was not a strict legalist, and he showed mercy to those in bondage to sin, he did speak to Pilate ( a moral relativist using relativism to protect his inner corruption) and say “everyone who is on the side of truth listens to me.” This was certainly not a “moral relavist” statement of ultra tolerance. It implied that there is a right and a wrong side. There is such a things as objective truth with those “on the side of truth” and “those not on the side of truth.” It goes beyond rigid conformity to man made laws and rules and mere legalistic obedience because one is fearful of having one’s hands chopped off (as in Saudi Arabia) or being beheaded (for those abandoning Islam) or imprisonment (for those questioning the Koran or Mohammed) or stoning (for homosexuals or adulterers under Sharia Law). It seeks to follow God and live by even higher moral and ethical standards which include truth, love, justice, morality, mercy and love. This is what Kohlberg taught as the 6th and highest level of morality and ethical behavior.

  15. peddiebill says:

    I am familiar with the detail of Kohlberg’s 6 stages but I think we are use terms like “moral relativism” (and “post-modern” from your first post) to mean different things. I also wonder if you are familiar with some of Kohlberg’s examples because to me he is talking about situational ethics at the top level. I am afraid I cant quite agree with your interpretation of Islam either, because most Muslim people I know most certainly dont operate at this level any more than most Christians I know wouldnt even dream of beating their children, killing their children when they swear at them or stoning neighbours to death for crimes like wearing mixed fibre clothes no matter what it says in the Bible eg Leviticus. However in general terms I agree with what you say. I am also sure that many of the arguments I hear about religion are conducted between people operating at different levels.

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