ECT Is God Moral?

Is God Moral?

  • Yes

    Votes: 25 96.2%
  • No

    Votes: 1 3.8%

  • Total voters
    26

Clete

Truth Smacker
Silver Subscriber
Is God moral?

Sounds like a simple enough question. I'm always amazed at the squirming it causes!

Please click "Yes" or "No" and then explain your answer.

Notice there are only two answers. That's on purpose.

Resting in Him,
Clete

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The following was originally posted by me in post 68 of this thread. I added it here so that its easier to find and to reference in future posts...

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Okay, I think I've drug this out far enough.

I wrote the following a couple of years ago and some of the discussion so far in this thread has brought to my attention the need for me to incorporate some discussion about Euthyphro's Dilemma. I sort of wanted to figure out how to do that before posting it but I decided against it. My thought is that the discussion that follows might help me figure out just how it fits and how best to express it.

Some of what follows will be familiar to those of you who read my posts but this will be the first time I've put all this together in one post, at least on the regular forum.

I look forward to whatever rational feedback I can get!
Enjoy!

------------------------------

Our Moral God

The question of God's morality might, to some, seem a ridiculous question. To some, the idea that God might not be moral is so ludicrous a thought that it would be downright blasphemous to even utter it aloud. After all, they say, if God is amoral (i.e. non-moral) then there can be no standard of right and wrong. But to those who take such a position, it would come as quite a surprise to discover that there are at least as many, if not more, who think it an equally blasphemous thought to suggest that God is moral. After all, God is not subject to anyone or anything, including a moral standard - He is the standard! Right?

What is the source of such confusion? Well, there are many possible ways to answer that question, the most obvious of which has to do with the defining of terms and explaining in more detail what is meant when one says that God is, or is not, moral. But I don't believe that the problem can really be solved by a mere analysis of the semantics involved. This is not an issue of sophistry but rather it is a problem of philosophy. There is a more fundamentally philosophical issue involved here that I believe the vast majority of people on both sides of this issue do not understand nor do they even have any inkling of the issue's existence for that matter. The purpose of this short essay is to bring this issue to the attention of those on both sides of this issue and to explain how the God we serve is indeed moral but not because He follows or is subject to a set of rules nor because His nature defines morality, which is meaningless, but because God is rational.

In John chapter one we are taught not simply that Jesus is God, nor simply that God became a man, but that God the Son is the Logos of God. The New King James renders the passage this way...

John1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.​

In this passage, everywhere you see the phrase, "the Word" the Greek word being used is "Logos". It is important to understand what this Greek word means because the use of "Word" as an English translation just doesn't convey what this passage is teaching. Logos conveys the idea of communication or more specifically, discourse and more specifically than that, rational discourse and/or rational argument. It is the word from which we get the suffix "-ology", as in Biology, Theology, Technology, Climatology, Cosmology, etc. So, the study of living things is "Biology" and the processes in a living creature are said to be biological. Notice bio-LOGICAL. To apply logic to the processes in living things, and thus to understand them, is biology, it is the logos of life. This is the meaning conveyed by "Logos".

So now, with this better understanding of the Greek, lets look at this passage again...

John 1:1 In the beginning was Logic, and Logic was with God, and Logic was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. 8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. 9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And Logic became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.​

Now, there are some who object to such a translation thinking it improper to equate the living God with some abstract concept such as logic. But it should be noted that those who make such an objection never object to God being equated with the abstract concept of "Word", nor are they typically capable of offering any explanation as to what exactly it means to say "the Word was God". In other words, people who object on the grounds of referring to God as an abstraction, typically have no real problem with abstractions so long as the abstraction being used makes no sense.
This is, however, quite a new idea to most of those reading this and so let me just cite a couple of others who have used and acknowledged the validity of such a translation. Not that doing so helps to prove anything other than that this teaching is not unique to, nor can it's genesis be attributed to me. Indeed, this idea is as old as Christianity. As evidence of both its veracity and its antiquity, I offer the following quotations, the likes of which there are many...

"...this translation––may not only sound strange to devout ears, it may even sound obnoxious and offensive. But the shock only measures the devout person's distance from the language and thought of the Greek New Testament. Why it is offensive to call Christ Logic, when it does not offend to call him a word, is hard to explain. But such is often the case. Even Augustine, because he insisted that God is truth, has been subjected to the anti–intellectualistic accusation of "reducing" God to a proposition. At any rate, the strong intellectualism of the word Logos is seen in its several possible translations: to wit, computation, (financial) accounts, esteem, proportion and (mathematical) ratio, explanation, theory or argument, principle or law, reason, formula, debate, narrative, speech, deliberation, discussion, oracle, sentence, and wisdom.
Any translation of John 1:1 that obscures this emphasis on mind or reason is a bad translation. And if anyone complains that the idea of ratio or debate obscures the personality of the second person of the Trinity, he should alter his concept of personality. In the beginning, then, was Logic." - Gordon H. Clark; Against The World. The Trinity Review, 1978-1988. [God And Logic, Gordon H. Clark, p. 52-56] John W. Robbins, Editor.​

"For not only among the Greeks did reason (Logos) prevail to condemn these things through Socrates, but also among the Barbarians were they condemned by Reason (or the Word, the Logos) Himself, who took shape, and became man, and was called Jesus Christ;" Justin Martyr: The First Apology of Justin Chapter V​

Logos n. < Gr, a word: see Logic 1 Gr. Philos. reason, thought of as constituting the controlling principle of the universe and as being manifested by speech 2 Christian Theol. the eternal thought or word of God, made incarnate in Jesus Christ: John 1 - Webster's Dictionary​

Okay, so what's the point? God is Logic, Logic is God - so what? Well, let's suppose someone, for whatever reason (uh hem), rejects the Bible, Jesus Christ and the whole concept of God, a true atheist attempts to think through the issues of life and does so in such a way so as to stay as true to the principles of logic and sound reason is he possibly can. If, the Living God is Logic, what conclusions then should this person come too? Should they not be at least very similar to the teachings which are found in Scripture? If such an atheist existed and made such an attempt to use reason to formulate his philosophy of life, would he not be using God to formulate it, even if by accident and in ignorance?

Now, bearing that in mind I want to look at John 1 again. This time verse 4...

John 1:4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.​

I find it interesting that the issue of life is brought up in the context of the Logos of God. It interests me because if one were to attempt to contemplate a rational basis for morality, life would have to be a necessary starting point because it is only to the living that issues of morality apply or matter. Ayn Rand, just the sort of atheist to which I've been referring, put it this way...
"...the first question is "Does man need values at all—and why?" According to Rand, "it is only the concept of 'Life' that makes the concept of 'Value' possible," and, "the fact that a living entity is, determines what it ought to do." Rand writes: "there is only one fundamental alternative in the universe: existence or non-existence—and it pertains to a single class of entities: to living organisms. The existence of inanimate matter is unconditional, the existence of life is not: it depends on a specific course of action... It is only a living organism that faces a constant alternative: the issue of life or death..." The survival of the organism is the ultimate value to which all of the organism's activities are aimed, the end served by all of its lesser values." Ayn Rand (1964). The Virtue of Selfishness (paperback ed.). p. 13 & 18 New York: Signet.​

Rand also said,

"Man's mind is his basic tool of survival. Life is given to him, survival is not. His body is given to him, its sustenance is not. His mind is given to him, its content is not. To remain alive he must act and before he can act he must know the nature and purpose of his action. He cannot obtain his food without knowledge of food and of the way to obtain it. He cannot dig a ditch––or build a cyclotron––without a knowledge of his aim and the means to achieve it. To remain alive, he must think." Rand, Ayn (1992) [1957]. Atlas Shrugged (35th anniversary ed.). p. 1012 New York: Dutton​

Now, according to Rand, rationality is the primary virtue in ethics (i.e. morality). For rand ethics is...

"the recognition and acceptance of reason as one's only source of knowledge, one's only judge of values and one's only guide to action." Rand, Ayn (1964). The Virtue of Selfishness (paperback ed.). p. 25 New York: Signet.​

All of which, if God is Logic, is entirely consistent with the common Christian teaching that morality is derived from and defined by God's nature. Which, by the way, is not to say that Ayn Rand was a godly person, nor that her philosophical conclusions were all correct. On the contrary, her rejection of the existence of God led to a great many errors, some of which are disastrous and grievously wrong. But, nevertheless, to the degree she stayed true to reason, her conclusions remained close to the truth, which means, by definition, that they remained close to God and His truth as taught in the pages of Scripture.

Rand's quintessential statement on morality is this ...

"Since reason is man’s basic means of survival, that which is proper to the life of a rational being is the good; that which negates, opposes or destroys it is the evil." Ayn Rand: Atlas Shrugged​

Now, since we now know that God is Reason, what could an atheist say that would be any more in line with the teachings of Scripture than that!?

I submit that in fact there is nothing an atheist or anyone else could say that would be more in line with the teaching a Scripture and that in fact we can find the answer to the confusion surrounding the morality of God in the fact the God is Logic. Morality is not simply defined by God's character as many Christians suppose, but rather that which is moral is so because it is rational, which, if you are following the line of thinking in this essay properly, you'll understand is the equivalent of saying that what is moral is so because it is God like. To say that God is moral, is not to say that God has a list of rules He must follow but simply that God is Life and that He is consistent with Himself and therefore acts in way which is proper to Life (i.e. He acts morally). Thus, to say that God is moral is to say that God is rational. An amoral (non-moral) God would be non-rational and therefore non-personal, non-relational, non-thinking, non-living, non-real!

God is real, therefore God is rational, therefore God is moral!

Clete Pfeiffer
3/24/2012
 
Last edited:

Old man

New member
Is God moral?

Sounds like a simple enough question. I'm always amazed at the squirming it causes!

Please click "Yes" or "No" and then explain your answer.

Notice there are only two answers. That's on purpose.

Resting in Him,
Clete


Is the Pope Catholic?
 

Desert Reign

LIFETIME MEMBER
LIFETIME MEMBER
Yes,
No squirming here.

The Calvinists probably have a harder time answering without squirming. Because according to them, God only ever makes/made one act, namely the act of creating everything in all of history all at once. So, aside from any questions of explicit morality like did God ordain the Sandy Hook massacre (discussed already here somewhere), there is simply nothing logically to compare this one act to. If you only ever do one thing in all your existence, I would hardly say it was an appropriate question to ask so I would guess the average Calvinist would have to answer no.

That might sound a little long-winded to some. Here is another way of looking at it: Jesus said 'be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.' But if, as the Calvinist believes, God is perfect because of the fact that he is God, then how can we possibly carry out this command?
 

Totton Linnet

New member
Silver Subscriber
God is not moral, He does whatever He pleases, it always pleases Him to do good, He is the Personification of good, the word good is derived from God
 

heir

TOL Subscriber
Yes. Perfectly righteous and the standard for morality.
Of which must be mentioned NONE of us can meet (Romans 3:10 KJV, Romans 3:23 KJV). Hence, the need for the gospel of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV) and the righteousness of God upon all them that believe (Romans 3:21-22 KJV).
 

genuineoriginal

New member
_____
moral
1. concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.
2. holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct.
_____​
Throughout the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, there are many verses about God's concern with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character.

The Law given to the children of Israel through Moses and the expansion of the Law beyond the written commandments by Jesus and Paul demonstrate that God holds high principles for proper conduct.

Some people like to debate whether God manifests the same high principles for proper conduct.
There really is nothing to debate, since God does in fact manifest the same high principles for proper conduct.
 

Eric h

Active member
I think God's morality can be judged by his concern for the poor and oppressed.

Mathew 25

The Judgment of the Nations.*
31
f “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,
32
g and all the nations* will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
33
He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34
Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
35
h For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,
36
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’
37
Then the righteous* will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?
39
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
40
i And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
 

Clete

Truth Smacker
Silver Subscriber
Yes. Perfectly righteous and the standard for morality.
Playing devil's advocate here...


Can He be both?
How is it not a tautology to say that God is both righteous and the standard by which righteousness is determined?

If God is the standard, what if God did something that is currently evil by every moral standard we can name? Would that make God evil or would that change the definition of righteousness?

Resting in Him,
Clete
 

Bright Raven

Well-known member
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
Yes He is moral. It is one of His attributes.

See the following;

Psalm 119:68
Isaiah 63:7
Psalm 139:17
Deuteronomy 30:9
Psalm 34:8
Matthew 7:11
 

Clete

Truth Smacker
Silver Subscriber
God is not moral, He does whatever He pleases, it always pleases Him to do good, He is the Personification of good, the word good is derived from God

If God is not moral then what does it mean to say that God is good?

Psalm 118:1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Matthew 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.



Good by what standard?

Resting in Him,
Clete
 

Clete

Truth Smacker
Silver Subscriber
Yes,
No squirming here.

The Calvinists probably have a harder time answering without squirming. Because according to them, God only ever makes/made one act, namely the act of creating everything in all of history all at once. So, aside from any questions of explicit morality like did God ordain the Sandy Hook massacre (discussed already here somewhere), there is simply nothing logically to compare this one act to. If you only ever do one thing in all your existence, I would hardly say it was an appropriate question to ask so I would guess the average Calvinist would have to answer no.

That might sound a little long-winded to some. Here is another way of looking at it: Jesus said 'be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.' But if, as the Calvinist believes, God is perfect because of the fact that he is God, then how can we possibly carry out this command?
You mention Matthew 5...

Matthew 5:48 Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.​

The question, "Is God moral?" implies the following....

God is perfect - by what standard?

How would you answer that question?

Resting in Him,
Clete
 

Tambora

Get your armor ready!
LIFETIME MEMBER
Hall of Fame
If God is not moral then what does it mean to say that God is good?

Psalm 118:1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 143:10 Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Matthew 19:17 So He said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.






Good by what standard?

Resting in Him,
Clete
What standard do you say it is?
 

glorydaz

New member
Playing devil's advocate here...


Can He be both?
How is it not a tautology to say that God is both righteous and the standard by which righteousness is determined?

If God is the standard, what if God did something that is currently evil by every moral standard we can name? Would that make God evil or would that change the definition of righteousness?

Resting in Him,
Clete

Yes, I believe He can be both. If God does something we don't consider moral then we can be sure we can only see through a glass darkly. I think we see this a lot...when people say God would never do thus and so or He would never allow thus and so. We can't see His purposes and His ways which are so much higher than ours.

So, it certainly wouldn't make God evil. I guess it would have to (change) broaden our definition of righteous. Since those are the only two choices you've given me. ;)
 
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