TiO 45 – {Un}Apologetic – Morality

DOWNLOAD PDF

The Main Idea

Our morality and ethics inform and justify all of the actions that we do and are the basis for what we believe to be right and wrong. In his teaching today, Steve Kim asserted that without God—a personal moral agent that exists outside of our physical world—there is no basis for objective morality or for judging anything good or evil and we are left with only right and wrong, judgements which are based on personal preference and context.

Warm Up Questions: (Choose 1 or 2)

Q1: Name something that society thinks is generally okay today but thought was wrong when you were a child (or 50 years ago, if that is easier).

Q2: Name something that the church thinks is okay today but thought/taught was wrong when you were a child.

Q3: Name something that society thinks is generally okay but that the church teaches is wrong.

Dig a Little Deeper

The foundational difference between followers of Jesus and atheists is not the evidence nor even our desires to be better people or to see the world become better: it is the question of God or not-God. In his teaching, Steve identified both that the presence of God underpins our morality and, in fact, without God as the foundational moral agent the idea of good and evil as anything but our personal or societal preference does not make any sense.

Read Genesis 1:1-2

Q1: According to this passage, where did God come from? (Hint: this is kind of a trick question)

Q2: According to the rest of Genesis 1 (you can read it together or skim to yourselves), who was responsible for the creative process? How were people involved?

What we see in Genesis 1 is repeated throughout the whole Bible: God creates and gives moral laws and when we follow and accept what God gives us things go well for us. But when we ignore God or decide that we are more wise than him, then things go poorly for us.

Read Psalm 14

Q3: What does this Psalm say about those who do not believe in God or follow his moral law?

 

Steve Kim said that not only is it foolish to not believe in God but that our morality is based on the presence of a person who sits outside of our physical world. Here is what he said:

  • Objective morality—morality that is not based on situation, society, or personal preference must have three things to underpin it:
    1. Moral Value: the idea that some actions are actually good and evil not simply right and wrong. He defines good and evil as actions which are not contextual but which are true for all time, eg., “It is evil to murder.” Right and wrong are contextual, eg., which side of the street to drive on can be defined as right and wrong by people or societies but are not good or evil in a moral sense.
    2. Moral Duty: the idea that you have an obligation to do what is good and to not do what is evil. Without moral duty you may have knowledge of good and evil but have no obligation to do good acts.
    3. Moral Justice: the idea that you are accountable to someone for the good and evil acts you do. Without this, it would be acceptable to reward both someone who feeds a starving child and someone who kills that same child.
  • If you remove any of the underpinnings of objective morality then you are left with a situation where one or more of the following would exist:
    1. There is no good or evil only the right and wrong that we, our tribe, our religion, our society say are good and bad.
    2. There is no duty to do good actions and refrain from doing evil actions. We may want to do good, it may be expedient to do good, it may even be beneficial to our societies and relationships to do good but there is no moral duty to do good.
    3. There is no real justice in the world. We can meet out physical punishment for doing bad things, eg., prison, corporal punishment, loss of money, societal shunning, but in the end, you simply walk away from your bad deeds.
  • All of these ideas require interaction between people. You cannot have a moral relationship between a person and an inanimate object, a force, or a god who does not exist.

So, objective morality requires moral value, duty, and justice and only a personal God can provide the underpinnings for such objectivity. All other morals are based on the feelings and situational expediency of individuals and societies. And we would not be able to pass judgements on other people or other societies (past, present, or future) based on objective standards. The best that we could do it to say that other people and societies do things which are inconvenient or harmful or offensive to us.

Next Steps

If our faith were simply about us as individuals, if we had no relationships to maintain, no culture in which we lived, no people—friends, classmates, neighbours, people we work with—with whom we disagreed then what we believe could be talked about in whatever terms we choose.

 

But this is not the case. And the danger of apologetics is that we simply take all of our data, all of our logical arguments, all of our sermon points, and treat the people who we come in contact with, and have relationships with, as subjects for our debates. The danger, of course, is that we come across as narrow-minded bigots who have no love, only fanatical following of a set of rules. There are times for debate, times for reasoned discussion, times to proclaim the truth, but there are also times when it is wiser to hold back for the sake of love and of the good news of Jesus.

Q1: What is our obligation to the world around us?

Q2: When do you think it is appropriate to engage in debate with people about core beliefs?

Q2: Who are the people in your life who you need to engage with and how can you best do that?

Pray together for the people who you are in relationships with who see the world fundamentally differently than you do. Pray for opportunities to share the love of Jesus with them, whether that be in what you say or what you do.

The Depth (for optional study)

In this section we are providing an in-depth look into the scriptures that the message came out of. There are two critical steps in good interpretation of the Bible. First, we try to understand what the author meant when he wrote the words and how that would have been applied by the original audience. Second, we then take the principles that the original author was trying to get across to his audience and we apply those principles to our own lives. You may want to read some of these passages yourself and/or have people in your group read them together.

Genesis 1

            In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day..

Psalm 14

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;

there is no one who does good.

The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind

to see if there are any who are wise,

who seek after God.

They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;

there is no one who does good,

no, not one.

Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers

who eat up my people as they eat bread,

and do not call upon the Lord?

There they shall be in great terror,

for God is with the company of the righteous.

You would confound the plans of the poor,

but the Lord is their refuge.

O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!

When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,

Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Resources

Here are references to some reading material you might find helpful:

Thinking? Answering Life’s Five Biggest Questions – Andy Steiger with Sheri Hiebert

Here is the web site for Apologetics Canada:

http://apologeticscanada.com

You may also like

Leave a comment