Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I received the following comment on my previous post by e-mail:

Have finished reading your comments on 'taking a stand.'  I found it interesting; however, I believe that this when done in a public way is wrong because it tries to change someone’s behaviour while forgetting that many do not hold the same precepts as you. Thus, any moralising that is public to people of all beliefs should be conducted in a secular format because everyone is arguing from same fundamentals such as scientific laws.”

This is my reply:  I think you and perhaps others may have misunderstood my previous post, so I’ll try to clarify.

I have not forgotten that many do not hold the same precepts as I do.  But if you’ll notice, I was speaking of what I referred to as “a huge deficiency in evangelical Christian thinking, behavior and preaching.”  In other words, I was speaking to a particular audience.

We, who are, or claim to be Christians, have a common frame of reference – the Bible, which we believe is the Word of God.  This, especially the New Testament, is to be the basis for our ethics.  And this can be boiled down to one law, quoted over and over by Jesus and the New Testament writers.  As the Apostle Paul summed up in Romans 13:8-10:

“Owe no one anything except to love one another; for the one who loves the other has fulfilled the Law.
For this:  ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there’s any other commandment, it’s summed up in this one, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
Love does not do wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the Law.”

When I criticized the vengeance, greed and slander that I see practiced by Christians, I have a biblical basis for doing so.  And you’ll notice that I include myself in this criticism.

I also made the observation that, “There are those who do not even profess faith, who sometimes have a greater sense of right and wrong than those who do.”  I recognize that there are those who hold to similar ethical standards as Christians even though the derivation claimed for these standards may be radically different than ours.  Were I attempting to moralize “to people of all beliefs,” I would undoubtedly seek some common ground or grounds, whether religious or secular.  However, this was not my intent.

As for “everyone arguing from fundamentals such as scientific laws,” I believe this is an impossibility, for a number of reasons, the first being that we don’t all hold to the same fundamentals as standards for conduct.  As I stated above, Christian ethics are derived from different sources than non-Christian ethics.

And “scientific laws” can only tell us the way things are; they do not tell us the way things ought to be.  Though they may tell us why we behave as we do, they cannot tell us how we should behave.  As has been said before, we cannot derive an “ought” from an “is.”

I hope we can continue this conversation.

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