Is Biblical Morality "Might Makes Right"?

It is a common misconception: In a religious worldview, morality is dictated by a god who has whimsically decided that X is good and Y is bad, therefore this god mandates that we humans follow his dictates or be punished eternally. If this god or these gods decree(s) murder is wrong then murder is wrong because the god(s) have the power to punish those who commit murder. The god or the gods could just as easily have decreed that helping widows or loving puppies is wrong, and while we might object that we cannot see any negatives to doing so, we would all need to fall into line because the god or gods have decreed it to be wrong and will punish us if we don't follow his decree.

While I cannot speak for all religious views that may be out there, when applying this common view to the God of the Bible, the view is false. But saying it is false and explaining why it is false is not always easy -- not because the reason isn't clear, but because in many cases people have to come to grips that God does not operate according to the standards of the world to comprehend the explanation. They are steeped in the idea that “might makes right,” and because of that viewpoint, they assume that God, being omnipotent, would naturally operate in that way, too.



This “might makes right” idea is at the forefront of our thinking in many areas of life. For example, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is often attributed with the quote, "History is written by the victors." Whether Churchill actually said that phrase or some variation is subject to some debate, but there is no debate that the phrase has been embedded in our beliefs. It is very much a "might makes right" viewpoint, and that viewpoint does have truth behind it in our experience. We know that the country that wins a war has the ability to paint itself as virtuous while the enemy who lost can be labeled as wicked. As stated by Chris Ryder in an article entitled (Partial) History: Why 'History Is Written By The Victors' Couldn't Be More True:
History is a narrative of facts that, as Winston Churchill said, is written by the victors. The voices and perspectives of the victors in history are much more dominant than those who have been conquered, oppressed, and killed.
The novel 1984 by George Orwell takes this same concept of those in power molding truth to its service through the power to define words and enforce rules to an even greater level. 1984 teaches that f the State becomes powerful enough, it can write history and force obedience. 1984 has embedded itself in our collective consciousness and understanding of how the world operates, and it is easy to see its application to God, i.e., God -- especially the God of the Bible -- being omnipotent has absolute power to decree whatever He desires and whatever He desires is what is “good” because He says so.

Unfortunately, even Christians sometimes fall prey to this type of thinking. Despite the clear teaching to the contrary in many places in the Bible, some Christians still believe that we need to follow God's law to avoid God's punishment. But that is a far cry from the freedom granted by the Gospel.

How do we explain why this understanding is wrong? A good place to start is found in an article on the website Tactical Faith entitled Morality as Natural: Why the "I don't need a god to be moral" critique fails by William Travis Coblentz, Ph.D. Dr. Coblentz presents a clear explanation of why the old saw that God created laws to punish us in a “might makes right” mentality is mistaken in a Biblical worldview.

Dr. Coblentz first notes that God is necessary as a grounding for morality, but unfortunately too many of us subconsciously adopt the “might makes right” approach to God’s determination of what is moral and what is not.
While I think the Christian’s intuition is right—we need morality to be more than (broadly agreed-upon) opinion—to make morality simply God’s opinion, enforceable by his power to punish and reward, does not solve the problem. That casts us into the Euthyphro Dilemma which causes some significant trouble ....

What is right about the Christian’s intuition is that morality needs a ground that is somehow beyond human beings. The problem is that we keep trying to answer the question of “Why?” with the belief that power—the power to control, punish, reward, in short “lording it over”—must be the ground of morality, or the most fundamental quality of being. What I mean is that we see power as the primary, and therefore the most valuable, of qualities.
If God’s power to enforce his decrees through punishment is not the basis for morality, what is? Dr. Coblentz provides a clear and cogent answer which starts not with God's power, but with his love:
But let us say that God is not first and foremost to be understood as powerful, but as loving, self-giving, creative. If that is the case, then how might we answer the “Why?” question?

When we ask, “Why?” we tend to think of motivations, and thus desires. And insofar as our desires are fundamentally aimed toward power—that is, the capacity for acquiring pleasure for ourselves and avoiding pain—then we will ultimately answer the question of “Why?” for morality with an appeal to power (punishment or reward).

But morality isn’t grounded in God’s power, but in his love, his self-giving creation. And so the appeal for morality is not that you’ll be punished for disobeying or rewarded for obeying, but that morality is tied to our very being. For God created us in love, and made us in his image. Therefore, to sin is merely to act against God’s nature, our own nature, and against the nature of the world itself. (footnote omitted)
This explanation of sin is similar to the one I laid out in my blogpost, What is Sin and How Can I Explain It? where I wrote:
Thinking logically, if what God would do, say and/or think in a given situation is what is perfect, then whenever anyone does, says and/or thinks that is different than what God would do, say and/or think in any given situation is necessarily acting in a manner that is not perfect. And perfection is the mark that we are trying to hit. (Matthew 5:48) So, when we act in a way that is inconsistent with what God, the perfect being, would do then we are missing the mark, i.e., we are sinning.
Dr. Coblentz point is better stated than mine because mine focuses too much on actions. His focuses on the nature of God and our own nature. Sin isn't just actions - it is who we are in relation to who God created us to be. Where we stray from that perfect image, we sin. Likewise, the morality that we all have that comes from God and his nature is not about punishing us when we cross some arbitrary line. It is about us becoming more holy, i.e., set apart from the ways of the world (which are sinful because they are not God's way) so that we can become more like God. So morality is just the way to keep us on track to become the person we are meant to be.

Dr. Coblentz later continues:
Like a child, we may initially obey God because we are seeking to avoid punishment and gain reward, but once we come to understand that his commands—the greatest being to love God and love neighbor—are instructions on how to become fully what we are, our fear is no longer about punishment, but fear of our own attraction to un-being, nothingness, death. That is why the wages of sin is death—since sin is battling against our very being, death is the obvious result—but the self-giving creative act of God is eternal life—becoming fully what God has and is creating us to be results in life so full that it never ends.
God’s morality is not an imposition of His will because He has the power to do so and will punish us if we disobey. God’s morality – which is our morality – is there because God loves us and wants what is best for us, i.e., to be more and more in the image of God. It calls us above all to love God – not only who He is, but His character, His holiness, His justice and all of His other attributes – but also to love our neighbors and our enemies. Morality is merely the expression of how we can most fully love God and love our fellow men.

Morality isn’t about might, it is about love. While it is certainly true that God is all-powerful, the Bible makes it clear that God is primarily about love. (1 John 4:8 ~ “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”) Morality is the expression of God's love that drives us to be more holy, and more like Jesus Christ. God's holiness holds a central place in this agapÄ“ love. Dr. Coblentz concludes:
We might perhaps need a bit more development of this idea that love is closer to the heart of who God is than power. For it might sound like I’m venturing into a universalist Santa Claus god, or perhaps a god who lacks omnipotence. I’m not. In fact, in a strange way, if God is primarily loving, it elevates his power and the demands of his holiness. That is, looking at God as primarily loving gives us a higher view of God.

Comments

Right makes might. look at the Israelis vs pharaoh at Red Sea.
First time I taught a college class, the first question was from a skin head who ask "isn't history written by the victors?" The subject was medieval England so he's talking about the holocaust didn't happen. I had a feeling I knew where he was going so I answered him with "history is written by historians."
The Pixie said…
It was George Orwell who wrote 1984, as even the URL of your link makes clear. Huxley wrote Brave New World.

BK: ...presents a clear explanation of why the old saw that God created laws to punish us in a “might makes right” mentality is mistaken in a Biblical worldview.

So why did God say we cannot eat shellfish, wear garments of mixed cloth or pick up sticks on a Sunday? Surely you do not believe these things are (or were?) morally wrong?
So why did God say we cannot eat shellfish, wear garments of mixed cloth or pick up sticks on a Sunday? Surely you do not believe these things are (or were?) morally wrong?

He didn't. He told The Israelites they could not.We need to distinguish between oral law and ritual purity,
that should have said moral law not oral law,
BK said…
Pixie, you were right about it being Orwell, of course. Simply a mistake. Thanks for pointing it out. I fixed it. On the other point, Joe is right.
Anonymous said…
So why did God tell the Israelites they could not? What is ritual purity? Why is it not important today? Does God not care if Christians are ritually pure? If not, why did he care if the Israelites were?

Was there really a difference to the Israelites between moral law and ritual purity? The Ten Commandments mix them freely (eg do not murder and keep the Sabbath), suggesting that to the Israelites they were all one thing. The punishment for picking up sticks on the Sabbath was death; clearly what you call "ritual purity" was of the utmost importance to them.

As a non-Christian, this looks to me like Christians cherry-picking Biblical morality. We want "Thou shalt not murder" so we will call that law. We also want to eat lobster, so we will declare that God thinking eating shellfish is an abomination is just "ritual purity" so we can ignore. Therefore, I ask you: Can you give a definitive statement about how we can determine if a rule in the Bible is merely "ritual purity", and so can be ignored?

Pix
This comment has been removed by the author.
PxSo why did God tell the Israelites they could not? What is ritual purity? Why is it not important today? Does God not care if Christians are ritually pure? If not, why did he care if the Israelites were?

Religious life involves rituals. People like rituals they are psychologically satisfying and help mark occasions. If you are going to do the, do them right. That's ritual purity. I don't know that it's not important today. But it's not moral if we use coke rather than wine but it's not the pure ritual.

PxWas there really a difference to the Israelites between moral law and ritual purity? The Ten Commandments mix them freely (eg do not murder and keep the Sabbath), suggesting that to the Israelites they were all one thing. The punishment for picking up sticks on the Sabbath was death; clearly what you call "ritual purity" was of the utmost importance to them.

That distinction is one i and other sociologists of religion draw, the ancients did not draw that distinction.

PxAs a non-Christian, this looks to me like Christians cherry-picking Biblical morality. We want "Thou shalt not murder" so we will call that law. We also want to eat lobster, so we will declare that God thinking eating shellfish is an abomination is just "ritual purity" so we can ignore.

where did I say we can ignore ritual? Do you not understand what morality is? Do you think morality is just rule keeping? That's really undeveloped mentally (see Lawrence Kohlberg "was a 20th century psychologist known primarily for his research into moral psychology and development. ... Kohlberg’s stages of moral development were influenced by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget’s stage-based theory of development." link )



PxTherefore, I ask you: Can you give a definitive statement about how we can determine if a rule in the Bible is merely "ritual purity", and so can be ignored?

if you know what morality is then wen its not moral its probably ritual. if you have no idea what is moral then you wont get it anyway. Ritual amounts to ceremonies relating to rites of passage and other symbolic matters, you are too bright to think this is hard
these are modern social science based distinctions, my BA is in sociology, most theologians make these kinds of distinctions as well. However, it was St Paul who first drew a distinction between the moral content of the law and pure rule keeping.
The Pixie said…
Joe: Religious life involves rituals. People like rituals they are psychologically satisfying and help mark occasions. If you are going to do the, do them right. That's ritual purity. I don't know that it's not important today. But it's not moral if we use coke rather than wine but it's not the pure ritual.

So not eating shellfish is a ritual some people do because they like doing rituals?

Joe: That distinction is one i and other sociologists of religion draw, the ancients did not draw that distinction.

Exactly. You are reading something in to it that the authors never intended.

Joe: where did I say we can ignore ritual?

Do you eat shellfish or pork, do you wear garments made of more than one material, do you do any work on the Sabbath? If you follow all the laws of the OT, I would be very surprised. I know the vast majority of Christians ignore them. Are they wrong to do that?

Joe: Do you not understand what morality is? Do you think morality is just rule keeping? That's really undeveloped mentally...

What does my understanding of morality have to do with this?

Christians claim their morality comes from the Bible. The Bible says eating shellfish is an abomination. Explain to me why Christians do not think eating shellfish is immoral.

See if you can do it without reference to my morality.

Joe: if you know what morality is then wen its not moral its probably ritual. if you have no idea what is moral then you wont get it anyway.

So then Christian morality is deciding what is moral first (just as atheists do, by the way), then going to the Bible and cherry-picking the bits they want to justify it, whilst declaring the bits they do not want to be just ritual. Just as I said.

Joe: Ritual amounts to ceremonies relating to rites of passage and other symbolic matters, you are too bright to think this is hard

It what sense does a prohibition on eating shellfish amount to a ceremony or rite of passage? What is it symbolic of?
The Pixie said...
Joe: Religious life involves rituals. People like rituals they are psychologically satisfying and help mark occasions. If you are going to do the, do them right. That's ritual purity. I don't know that it's not important today. But it's not moral if we use coke rather than wine but it's not the pure ritual.

PXSo not eating shellfish is a ritual some people do because they like doing rituals?

Yea


Joe: That distinction is one i and other sociologists of religion draw, the ancients did not draw that distinction.

PXExactly. You are reading something in to it that the authors never intended.

one does not "read-in"sociological analysis. Just because the ancients never thought of themselves as individuals, or subjects, or whatever doesn't mean they weren't. We were talking about the distinction between moral commands and ritual purity,it's not changing the rules to observe that distinction even if Moses and co never made it


Joe: where did I say we can ignore ritual?

Do you eat shellfish or pork, do you wear garments made of more than one material, do you do any work on the Sabbath? If you follow all the laws of the OT, I would be very surprised. I know the vast majority of Christians ignore them. Are they wrong to do that?


the early church set those things aside. they did not ignore them,hey had a valid theological reason why they were no longer called for, ie new dispensation of grace,Jesus death on the cross changed the mechanism of salvation,

Joe: Do you not understand what morality is? Do you think morality is just rule keeping? That's really undeveloped mentally...

PXWhat does my understanding of morality have to do with this?

you don't see t grasp the reason for distinction between ritual purity and moral commands,



PXChristians claim their morality comes from the Bible. The Bible says eating shellfish is an abomination. Explain to me why Christians do not think eating shellfish is immoral.

case in point, Jewish dietary laws were not moral but ritualistic


PXSee if you can do it without reference to my morality.


Go back and read what I've been saying,you are not getting it


Joe: if you know what morality is then when its not moral its probably ritual. if you have no idea what is moral then you wont get it anyway.

PXSo then Christian morality is deciding what is moral first (just as atheists do, by the way), then going to the Bible and cherry-picking the bits they want to justify it, whilst declaring the bits they do not want to be just ritual. Just as I said.

are you purposely trying to sound obtuse?



Joe: Ritual amounts to ceremonies relating to rites of passage and other symbolic matters, you are too bright to think this is hard

It what sense does a prohibition on eating shellfish amount to a ceremony or rite of passage? What is it symbolic of?

It' not immoral to eat pork or shell fish,Its something the Hebrews did because God commanded it. It may have had health implications at that time,they didn't have refrigeration, but took on ritual significance as membership in the tirbe, i you are in the tribe you follow the rule,we are the guys that don't eat shell fish



7/29/2019 12:49:00 AM Delete
The Pixie said…
Pix: So not eating shellfish is a ritual some people do because they like doing rituals?

Joe: Yea

Seriously? I was being sarcastic because it was so stupid. How can NOT doing something be a ritual? Why make it a law if it is just for people who want to do it?

What about the guy in Numbers 15 who was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. Clearly he did not like that ritual, so he was free to ignore it... And yet God had him stoned to death!

Joe: one does not "read-in"sociological analysis. Just because the ancients never thought of themselves as individuals, or subjects, or whatever doesn't mean they weren't. We were talking about the distinction between moral commands and ritual purity,it's not changing the rules to observe that distinction even if Moses and co never made it

It is part of the cherry-picking process. To the ancients, all the laws were the same; they were given by God, and they were to be obeyed. The idea that actually some are optional would be nonsense, totally alien to them.

Joe: where did I say we can ignore ritual?

Pix: Do you eat shellfish or pork, do you wear garments made of more than one material, do you do any work on the Sabbath? If you follow all the laws of the OT, I would be very surprised. I know the vast majority of Christians ignore them. Are they wrong to do that?

Joe: the early church set those things aside. they did not ignore them,hey had a valid theological reason why they were no longer called for, ie new dispensation of grace,Jesus death on the cross changed the mechanism of salvation,

This is becoming an exercise in evasion. Why can you not simply admit that you ignore them?

Joe: you don't see t grasp the reason for distinction between ritual purity and moral commands,

The point is that the people who wrote them did not not.

Pix: Christians claim their morality comes from the Bible. The Bible says eating shellfish is an abomination. Explain to me why Christians do not think eating shellfish is immoral.

Joe: case in point, Jewish dietary laws were not moral but ritualistic

So Christians have cherry-picked the bits they want, and declared the rest, such as the prohibition on eating shellfish, as ritualistic, so they can ignore it. As I said.

Is eating shellfish no longer an abomination to God? Is it only abominable if Jews do it? Is it only abominable if those who enjoy rituals do it?

Joe: Go back and read what I've been saying,you are not getting it

No I am not getting it. How about you explain it better.

Joe: are you purposely trying to sound obtuse?

I am trying to get an explanation out of you. So far, the best I have got from you is that you decide what is moral first, then you go to the Bible. That is what "if you know what morality is then when its not moral its probably ritual" sounds like to me. If that is wrong, explain how.

Joe: It' not immoral to eat pork or shell fish,Its something the Hebrews did because God commanded it.

So is it immoral to pick up sticks on the Sabbath? I would say no, and yet it is one of the Ten Commandments, and someone got stoned to death for breaking it.

What about worshipping God? Is it immoral to not worship God? That is the greatest command n both the NT and OT, but to my mind there is nothing immoral about not worshipping God, and freedom of worship is generally considered a human right. Can we put that one done to just a ritualistic rule, and only for people who want to do that kind of thing?
Pix: So not eating shellfish is a ritual some people do because they like doing rituals?

Joe: Yea

Seriously? I was being sarcastic because it was so stupid. How can NOT doing something be a ritual? Why make it a law if it is just for people who want to do it?

Just because it's not a ritual doesn't mean it's not connected to ritual purity. It's not just keeping rituals pure it's also keeping one's self pure to perform the rituals, eating un-kosher food makes one impure

PXWhat about the guy in Numbers 15 who was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the Sabbath. Clearly he did not like that ritual, so he was free to ignore it... And yet God had him stoned to death!

He was obviously not free to ignore it. Are you are trying to ask me how I reconcile such obvious injustice and cruelty with Jesus' compassion? I don't. I don't accept such commands as coming from God I see the OT as cultural background that makes the mission of messiah meaningful. But it's not a note from God. The record of a people who tried to follow God but were not always understanding what he wanted. That's Why God became a man in history. shows us directly,


Joe: one does not "read-in"sociological analysis. Just because the ancients never thought of themselves as individuals, or subjects, or whatever doesn't mean they weren't. We were talking about the distinction between moral commands and ritual purity,it's not changing the rules to observe that distinction even if Moses and co never made it

It is part of the cherry-picking process. To the ancients, all the laws were the same; they were given by God, and they were to be obeyed. The idea that actually some are optional would be nonsense, totally alien to them.

how does analyzing them change that? where did I say don't obey the ritual laws, you are trying to create difficulty where one does not exist,

Joe: where did I say we can ignore ritual?

Pix: Do you eat shellfish or pork, do you wear garments made of more than one material, do you do any work on the Sabbath? If you follow all the laws of the OT, I would be very surprised. I know the vast majority of Christians ignore them. Are they wrong to do that?

Joe: the early church set those things aside. they did not ignore them,hey had a valid theological reason why they were no longer called for, ie new dispensation of grace,Jesus death on the cross changed the mechanism of salvation,

PX This is becoming an exercise in evasion. Why can you not simply admit that you ignore them?

It's become an pose of your ignorance, you think you can find the ultimate loophole based your ignorance and refuse to learn.This is like real well worn ground, we'e been over it a thousand times growing up in the church going to seminary, you are so ignorant it doesn't even occur to you that this issue has been kicked around for 2000 years it's like teeth cutting material for anyone growing up the in the church. then you are not even willing to listen to the answers,




Joe: you don't see t grasp the reason for distinction between ritual purity and moral commands,

PxThe point is that the people who wrote them did not not.

so what" they weren't sociologists. My distinction between purity and morality in law does not from the basis of Christian anomionism. That was asserted by Paul who was a rabbi and perfectly able to keep the law so it was not about getting out of law he could not live with,

Pix: Christians claim their morality comes from the Bible. The Bible says eating shellfish is an abomination. Explain to me why Christians do not think eating shellfish is immoral.

the Bible also says grace cancels the law. the law was nailed to the cross with Christ

Joe: case in point, Jewish dietary laws were not moral but ritualistic

PXSo Christians have cherry-picked the bits they want, and declared the rest, such as the prohibition on eating shellfish, as ritualistic, so they can ignore it. As I said.

stop the parade of ignorance. if you are not going to consider the answers then your little bromides are not really part of a discussion,


Is eating shellfish no longer an abomination to God? Is it only abominable if Jews do it? Is it only abominable if those who enjoy rituals do it?

Joe: Go back and read what I've been saying,you are not getting it

No I am not getting it. How about you explain it better.

Joe: are you purposely trying to sound obtuse?

I am trying to get an explanation out of you. So far, the best I have got from you is that you decide what is moral first, then you go to the Bible. That is what "if you know what morality is then when its not moral its probably ritual" sounds like to me. If that is wrong, explain how.

I told you flat out that is discussed by Paul on the NT it;s very old it;s ingrained in my thinning it says clearly the law of Moses was nailed to the cross it is done awy, Because Jesus; death changes the basis upon which we are saved, we are not saved by following law,



PXWhat about worshiping God? Is it immoral to not worship God? That is the greatest command n both the NT and OT, but to my mind there is nothing immoral about not worshiping God, and freedom of worship is generally considered a human right. Can we put that one done to just a ritualistic rule, and only for people who want to do that kind of thing?

Jesus did not say worshiping God was the greatest law; ignorance again, He said loving God is the greatest commandment and loving the neighbor is the second greatest,

7/29/2019 07:30:00 AM
The Pixie said…
Joe: Just because it's not a ritual doesn't mean it's not connected to ritual purity. It's not just keeping rituals pure it's also keeping one's self pure to perform the rituals, eating un-kosher food makes one impure

Right. And people only have to keep themselves pure if they want to. God said it was an abomination to eat shellfish because doing so would make you impure, but really he is not bothered whether you do or not, just avoid it if you want.

Joe: He was obviously not free to ignore it.

No he was not. So why are you?

Joe: Are you are trying to ask me how I reconcile such obvious injustice and cruelty with Jesus' compassion? I don't. I don't accept such commands as coming from God I see the OT as cultural background that makes the mission of messiah meaningful. But it's not a note from God. The record of a people who tried to follow God but were not always understanding what he wanted. That's Why God became a man in history. shows us directly,

That is quite different to anything else you have said in this discussion! I also do not accept that any of the commands in the OT came from God, so aty least we agree somewhat.

Joe: how does analyzing them change that? where did I say don't obey the ritual laws, you are trying to create difficulty where one does not exist,

You have not said you ignore the ritual laws. In fact, you have very carefully avoided saying one way or another. Why is that?

My guess is that you ignore them but know that if you admit that it will weaken your position. So instead you hide behind deflection after deflection. A politician's tactic.

Joe: It's become an pose of your ignorance, you think you can find the ultimate loophole based your ignorance and refuse to learn.

I think Christianity found that loophole long ago, and has exploited it ever since to avoid the laws laid down in their holy book.

I do not need a loophole, I do not think the Bible is true, so have no reason to follow its arbitrary rules.

Joe: This is like real well worn ground, we'e been over it a thousand times growing up in the church going to seminary, you are so ignorant it doesn't even occur to you that this issue has been kicked around for 2000 years it's like teeth cutting material for anyone growing up the in the church. then you are not even willing to listen to the answers,

If you could say clearly whether you ignore the purity laws or not, you might have a point. When you are deliberately keeping your position secret, your accusation of ignorance falls flat.

Joe: the Bible also says grace cancels the law. the law was nailed to the cross with Christ

So Christians are free to break the Sabbath, to murder and steal, to not love God? Are you sure about that?

Joe: I told you flat out that is discussed by Paul on the NT it;s very old it;s ingrained in my thinning it says clearly the law of Moses was nailed to the cross it is done awy, Because Jesus; death changes the basis upon which we are saved, we are not saved by following law,

Great, so Christians are free to sleep around with anyone, male or female, as often and as much as they want? Strange I do not hear any preachers saying that.

Joe: Jesus did not say worshiping God was the greatest law; ignorance again, He said loving God is the greatest commandment and loving the neighbor is the second greatest,

My bad, I meant loving, not worshipping.

What about loving God? Is it immoral to not love God? That is the greatest command in both the NT and OT, but to my mind there is nothing immoral about not loving God, and freedom of religion is generally considered a human right. Can we put that one down to just a ritualistic rule, and only for people who want to do that kind of thing?
Joe: Just because it's not a ritual doesn't mean it's not connected to ritual purity. It's not just keeping rituals pure it's also keeping one's self pure to perform the rituals, eating un-kosher food makes one impure

PXRight. And people only have to keep themselves pure if they want to. God said it was an abomination to eat shellfish because doing so would make you impure, but really he is not bothered whether you do or not, just avoid it if you want.

Joe: He was obviously not free to ignore it.

PXNo he was not. So why are you?

Joe: Are you are trying to ask me how I reconcile such obvious injustice and cruelty with Jesus' compassion? I don't. I don't accept such commands as coming from God I see the OT as cultural background that makes the mission of messiah meaningful. But it's not a note from God. The record of a people who tried to follow God but were not always understanding what he wanted. That's Why God became a man in history. shows us directly,

PXThat is quite different to anything else you have said in this discussion! I also do not accept that any of the commands in the OT came from God, so aty least we agree somewhat.

Joe: how does analyzing them change that? where did I say don't obey the ritual laws, you are trying to create difficulty where one does not exist,

PXYou have not said you ignore the ritual laws. In fact, you have very carefully avoided saying one way or another. Why is that?

My guess is that you ignore them but know that if you admit that it will weaken your position. So instead you hide behind deflection after deflection. A politician's tactic.

Joe: It hasn't come up. why should it? There is no reason to assume that I don't accept the Bible, I do. but I am NOT living under the OT because it was Nailed to the cross.



Joe: It's become an pose of your ignorance, you think you can find the ultimate loophole based your ignorance and refuse to learn.

PXI think Christianity found that loophole long ago, and has exploited it ever since to avoid the laws laid down in their holy book.


That is fairly ignorant, why would they want to do that/ o know nothing about Church history,


PXI do not need a loophole, I do not think the Bible is true, so have no reason to follow its arbitrary rules.


you are not saved either

Joe: This is like real well worn ground, we'e been over it a thousand times growing up in the church going to seminary, you are so ignorant it doesn't even occur to you that this issue has been kicked around for 2000 years it's like teeth cutting material for anyone growing up the in the church. then you are not even willing to listen to the answers,

PXIf you could say clearly whether you ignore the purity laws or not, you might have a point. When you are deliberately keeping your position secret, your accusation of ignorance falls flat.

Why should i assume that you need to know? This is not done.why would you not assume that my view is standard Christian view? You don't know the standard view. I don't keep purity laws because the law was done away when Christ died on the cross



Joe: the Bible also says grace cancels the law. the law was nailed to the cross with Christ

PXSo Christians are free to break the Sabbath, to murder and steal, to not love God? Are you sure about that?


The ritual priority aspects of the law are done away because we are not under law but under grace, The moral aspects are still going because the moral law is written on the heart,

Joe: I told you flat out that is discussed by Paul on the NT it;s very old it;s ingrained in my thinning it says clearly the law of Moses was nailed to the cross it is done awy, Because Jesus; death changes the basis upon which we are saved, we are not saved by following law,

PXGreat, so Christians are free to sleep around with anyone, male or female, as often and as much as they want? Strange I do not hear any preachers saying that.

You are mixing up moral with ritual. injunction against adultery is the moral law

Joe: Jesus did not say worshiping God was the greatest law; ignorance again, He said loving God is the greatest commandment and loving the neighbor is the second greatest,

PXMy bad, I meant loving, not worshipping.

Make the argument again


PXWhat about loving God? Is it immoral to not love God? That is the greatest command in both the NT and OT, but to my mind there is nothing immoral about not loving God, and freedom of religion is generally considered a human right. Can we put that one down to just a ritualistic rule, and only for people who want to do that kind of thing?


we have to assume God is real and Jesus was God incarnate; the christian thing is real and true. That's the background assumption of the issue,If God is not real then why bother? o we are assuming one is a Christian if you area Christian why would you want to worship another God? If you know God is real why worship another God?

You can't command emotions but I think it means the actions commensurate with love, hold the attitude of love in your heart hat God is the most important thing the feelings will follow.
The Pixie said…
Joe: It hasn't come up. why should it?

You have several times pointedly asked "where did I say don't obey the ritual laws", choosing not to clarify if you do or do not. Now you want to pretend it has not come up?

Joe: There is no reason to assume that I don't accept the Bible, I do. but I am NOT living under the OT because it was Nailed to the cross.

Right. So at long last we have established that - as I assumed - you ignore the ritual laws of the OT.

Joe: That is fairly ignorant, why would they want to do that/ o know nothing about Church history,

They did it to appeal to the gentiles. The Romans had a great regard for ancient religions, such as Judaism. Christianity was Judaism without the inconveniences. That was a major part of its early success; without it, Christianity would have died in the the Jewish Revolt. Instead it got adopted by enough gentiles to survive.

Joe: Why should i assume that you need to know? This is not done.why would you not assume that my view is standard Christian view? You don't know the standard view. I don't keep purity laws because the law was done away when Christ died on the cross

Not sure quite what your point is. I assumed your view was the standard Christian, i.e., the ritual laws can be ignored. That has been the basis of this discussion.

Joe: The ritual priority aspects of the law are done away because we are not under law but under grace, The moral aspects are still going because the moral law is written on the heart,

Which is a great rationale for cherry-picking the laws you want to keep - just say the rest are just ritual.

So this brings us back to the earlier point: To the people that authored the laws, there was no difference. The difference is something modern man has invented, and is pushing onto the text.

Joe: You are mixing up moral with ritual. injunction against adultery is the moral law

Oh, you want to keep that one, do you? Therefore it is moral law.

Joe: we have to assume God is real and Jesus was God incarnate; the christian thing is real and true. That's the background assumption of the issue,If God is not real then why bother? o we are assuming one is a Christian if you area Christian why would you want to worship another God? If you know God is real why worship another God?

The issue is whether it is a moral imperative. Are we all morally obliged to worship the Christian God, and the human right to freedom of religion should be discarded? Or is this a ritual law, that we can keep if we want to?

Joe: You can't command emotions but I think it means the actions commensurate with love, hold the attitude of love in your heart hat God is the most important thing the feelings will follow.

Again, the issue here is whether it is a moral imperative, or just a ritual law that no longer applies.
Joe: we have to assume God is real and Jesus was God incarnate; the christian thing is real and true. That's the background assumption of the issue,If God is not real then why bother? o we are assuming one is a Christian if you area Christian why would you want to worship another God? If you know God is real why worship another God?

The issue is whether it is a moral imperative. Are we all morally obliged to worship the Christian God, and the human right to freedom of religion should be discarded? Or is this a ritual law, that we can keep if we want to?


wrong. Worship is for believers, God does not expect someone who doesn't believe he exists to worship him. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
PX:They did it to appeal to the gentiles. The Romans had a great regard for ancient religions, such as Judaism. Christianity was Judaism without the inconveniences. That was a major part of its early success; without it, Christianity would have died in the the Jewish Revolt. Instead it got adopted by enough gentiles to survive.

The Pauline take on Grace came out of his ministry to the gentiles.It bean with the question about ether or not to require circumcision. You are trying to put a spin on it to make it seem fly-by-night or cultish. I think that;s a chinsie criticism,
The Pixie said…
Joe: wrong. Worship is for believers, God does not expect someone who doesn't believe he exists to worship him. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

So even the greatest command in the Bible is not a moral law, just an optional ritual law. As I said before, what you are doing is deciding what is moral first, and then going to the Bible to justify it.

Makes me wonder what the point of an optional law actually is...

Joe: The Pauline take on Grace came out of his ministry to the gentiles.It bean with the question about ether or not to require circumcision. You are trying to put a spin on it to make it seem fly-by-night or cultish. I think that;s a chinsie criticism,

I agree with the first two sentences. He decided the only way to sell Christianity to the gentiles was to not require circumcision, and he had big arguments with the leadership on that issue, so we know this was not clear cut. Those who had actually been with Jesus during his ministry said circumcision should be a requirement.

These are the facts, Joe. Calling it a "childish criticism" does not change that.
The Pixie said...
Joe: wrong. Worship is for believers, God does not expect someone who doesn't believe he exists to worship him. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."

(1)I have clearly denied that rituals are merely optional since I said they are important,so I never said they are just optional.they are for worshipers, it would be foolish to command someone who doesn;t believe in God to worship God much less in a certain manner,

(2)where in that statement did i say worshiping God is not moral? i said i;s not for unbelievers,


So even the greatest command in the Bible is not a moral law, just an optional ritual law. As I said before, what you are doing is deciding what is moral first, and then going to the Bible to justify it.

why is it not moral where did I say that? It's required of unbelievers doesn't ake it amoral

Makes me wonder what the point of an optional law actually is...


why are you confusing non oral with optional?

Joe: The Pauline take on Grace came out of his ministry to the gentiles.It bean with the question about ether or not to require circumcision. You are trying to put a spin on it to make it seem fly-by-night or cultish. I think that;s a chinsie criticism,

I agree with the first two sentences. He decided the only way to sell Christianity to the gentiles was to not require circumcision, and he had big arguments with the leadership on that issue, so we know this was not clear cut. Those who had actually been with Jesus during his ministry said circumcision should be a requirement.

cynical and stupid, you are looking for a reason to reject it, pit a neative spin on the history

Px These are the facts, Joe. Calling it a "childish criticism" does not change that.


your spin is no ta fact its a spin, it could just as easily be that Paul was commanded to go the ignites because God emended all to be saved as it says in several OT passages "a light to the gentiles" what;s the point of just commanding sentinels to go under the law when Christ;s death freed us from the law?

If you don;t want to believe it why not just say it;s not true/ then you don;t have to monkey with things you don;t understand
The Pixie said…
Joe: (1)I have clearly denied that rituals are merely optional since I said they are important,so I never said they are just optional.they are for worshipers, it would be foolish to command someone who doesn;t believe in God to worship God much less in a certain manner,

Right. So Christians should obey all the ritual laws of the OT, such as not eating shellfish, no work on the Sabbath, etc.

Let us see how fast you backtrack on that one.

Joe: (2)where in that statement did i say worshiping God is not moral? i said i;s not for unbelievers,

So is it a moral imperative?

You could have made that clear in your last comment; that you chose not to makes me think you want to evade the question. We will see if you can give a clear statement next time.

Joe: cynical and stupid, you are looking for a reason to reject it, pit a neative spin on the history

Calling it "cynical and stupid" counts as an argument in your book?

Joe: your spin is no ta fact its a spin, it could just as easily be that Paul was commanded to go the ignites because God emended all to be saved as it says in several OT passages "a light to the gentiles" what;s the point of just commanding sentinels to go under the law when Christ;s death freed us from the law?

Sure it could. But you just said the ritual laws are not option. Remember this: "I have clearly denied that rituals are merely optional since I said they are important,so I never said they are just optional". That means Paul was wrong to tell the gentiles they did not have to obey the laws.

Admittedly, you are certain to retract that statement, but it shows how flimsy the whole edifice is.

Joe: If you don;t want to believe it why not just say it;s not true/ then you don;t have to monkey with things you don;t understand

Monkeying with morality is the Christian's prerogative. How dare non-Christians do it!

What you could do is make a clear statement about what counts as a moral law and what counts as a ritual law, and then make a clear statement about exactly when ritual laws should be followed. That would at least make me think Christianity had a solid position on the subject.

Instead, what I see is evasion at every opportunity, leading me to conclude that Christian morality is whatever is convenient at the time.
Blogger The Pixie said...
Joe: (1)I have clearly denied that rituals are merely optional since I said they are important,so I never said they are just optional.(2)they are for worshipers, it would be foolish to command someone who doesn;t believe in God to worship God much less in a certain manner,

PX: Right. So Christians should obey all the ritual laws of the OT, such as not eating shellfish, no work on the Sabbath, etc.

Let us see how fast you backtrack on that one.


We are not under law, but Grace. The law was canceled. the moral nature of the good is still real and ritual still matters but we have new rituals. We don't view them legally because the law is gone we are under grace. that is not back tracking because I already said it

Joe: (2)where in that statement did i say worshiping God is not moral? i said it's not for unbelievers,

PX:So is it a moral imperative?

for believers. as unbeliever you are already damned


PXYou could have made that clear in your last comment; that you chose not to makes me think you want to evade the question. We will see if you can give a clear statement next time.

where have I ever evaded the question? I just trying not to confuse you with much info


Joe: cynical and stupid, you are looking for a reason to reject it, pit a neative spin on the history

PX:Calling it "cynical and stupid" counts as an argument in your book?


It's a review, like film criticism


Joe: your spin is no ta fact its a spin, it could just as easily be that Paul was commanded to go the gentiles because God intended all to be saved as it says in several OT passages "a light to the gentiles" what;s the point of just commanding gentiles to go under the law when Christ;s death freed us from the law?

Sure it could. But you just said the ritual laws are not option. Remember this: "I have clearly denied that rituals are merely optional since I said they are important,so I never said they are just optional". That means Paul was wrong to tell the gentiles they did not have to obey the laws.

the law itself was canceled in Christ because it ran it;'s course, it was never meant to be a mechanism for salvation it was a barometer to show how bad bad is. It did it's work then Christ provided the mechanism for salvation in atonement,



Admittedly, you are certain to retract that statement, but it shows how flimsy the whole edifice is.

You are showing your self to be rather shallow I'm sharing the depth of the Gospel you are shitting on it. Because you are shallow you can only think in terms of pleasure and convenience and ego. God gave us a gracious gift by letting us off the hook all you cand is try to make yourself feel spacial by telling yourself how stupid it and how cleaver you are to see through it.

Joe: If you don;t want to believe it why not just say it;s not true/ then you don;t have to monkey with things you don;t understand

PXMonkeying with morality is the Christian's prerogative. How dare non-Christians do it!

You are clearly not willing to think in theological terms

PX: What you could do is make a clear statement about what counts as a moral law and what counts as a ritual law, and then make a clear statement about exactly when ritual laws should be followed. That would at least make me think Christianity had a solid position on the subject.

I've already done that, I assumed we were on the same page with morality I explained what ritual purity is. In terms of morality I'm basically a deontologist. Liberals are more teleologically oriented and politically i am rather teliologcal but in moral terms i tend to be denontologist

PX:Instead, what I see is evasion at every opportunity, leading me to conclude that Christian morality is whatever is convenient at the time.


I have no idea what you are calling evasion. I'm trying to unpack a complex set f developments that took 2000 years and explain that. You are trying to ridicule to let your self off the hook with God

8/01/2019 12:33:00 AM
I told you the law is set aside by Grace. We have the commune catholics call call the mass. We Protestants call communion or lord's supper.The Eucarist. I really don;t know why Yo think Im being unclear we don;t keep the purity laws because we are not under law.
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