EXPLORING CHRISTIANITY - MORALITY

THE BIBLE
Can we trust a book written 2000 years ago?

EYEWITNESS
Did the writers of the New Testament get their picture of Jesus right?

GOD - MAN
Is Jesus really God?

RESURRECTION
Did Jesus really rise from the dead?

RELIGIONS
With so many religions, why Christianity?

SUFFERING
If there is a God, why is there so much suffering?

TRINITY
Understanding the Trinity.

SCIENCE
The complementary nature of Science & Christianity.

FORGIVENESS
What it is and why it matters?

GUIDANCE
How does God guide?

REPENTANCE
What it is and why you can't get to heaven without it.

BORN AGAIN
What does it mean to be converted and born again?

SAVING FAITH
The kind of faith that will get you to heaven

ASSURANCE
Can I know for sure that I am going to heaven?

TRUTH
What is truth and does it matter?

MORALITY
Does it matter how we live? A Christian view of morality.

THE CHURCH
God's vision for his family, the Church. A call to the churches of the new millennium.

PURPOSE
How can I find a great purpose for living?

IDENTITY
Who am I; Finding my true identity as a human being and as a child of God.

SELF-ESTEEM
How can I feel good about my self? The Christian basis for proper sel-esteem.

LIFE AFTER DEATHChristianity's Hope & Challenge.

THE CROSS
Why did Jesus Die? What the Bible says about the Cross.

 

The only foundation for morality - the character of God

Morality begins with the character of God. There is no other foundation for it. And the sort of morality that really matters depends on the sort of God that really exists. The God I will be talking about here is not any old god such as humans have dreamed up over the centuries. It is the God who created this universe, who has made himself known through his dealings with chosen people through history and supremely through coming himself into our human existence in the person of Jesus Christ. If you don't believe in this sort of God then we will have to deal with that issue before we can have any meaningful discussion about morality.

This God that Christians believe in is, first of all, personal. In other words, he is not just some impersonal "force" behind the universe. C. S. Lewis, in his excellent book Beyond Personality, pointed out that though God may well be more than personal, he is certainly not less. This God has revealed to us that he exists as three persons we know as "Father", "Son" and "Holy Spirit", who have always existed in loving relationships with one another*. Thus the New Testament can declare that "God is love" (1 John 4:8). He has always been love and his purpose in creating humans was that he desired other personal beings with whom he could share that love. He desired to extend the family.

*I have dealt more fully with the Christian understanding of the Trinity and the implications of it in the booklets Understanding the Trinity and God's Vision for His Family, the Church.

As God is personal, he therefore created us as autonomous "persons", people with intelligence, feelings and the ability to make decisions. Though we share many characteristics with the animal creation, the Bible is very clear that we are more than that. We have been given a spiritual side to our nature that enables us to have a personal relationship with the living God. Because we were created for the prime purpose of enjoying relationships, both with God and with one another, then it stands to reason that whatever "morality" is, it must be relational. Whatever helps towards good relationships, either with God or other humans, must be "good". Whatever hinders those relationships must be "bad".

The second important thing to note here about this God is that he is holy. This is a word the Bible uses to sum up the perfection of God's character. He is perfect in his love, in his justice, in his faithfulness and any other "good" qualities you can think of. He is altogether untainted by evil in any form. One of the metaphors the Bible uses to describe good and evil is that of light and darkness. Thus John, in his first letter, can say, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). In fact, John is concerned in this letter to tell us that "God is light" before he tells us that "God is love." When God gave his people the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai towards the end of the second millennium BCE, then he was giving them standards that expressed something of his own moral character.

Because God has created us as moral beings, if we are to live in a meaningful relationship with him then it is necessary that we exhibit the same moral character that he does. God and evil ("sin" is the most common Bible word) can have nothing in common. Here lies our greatest problem. To quote John again: "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness...and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him" (1 John 2:9,11). How can sinful humans have any relationship with God who is morally perfect? How can what is unholy live with what is holy? When Isaiah had a vision of the awesome holiness of God, his natural reaction was his own unworthiness. "Woe to me!...I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty" (Isaiah 6:5). I am sure that would be the first reaction of any of us who had such a vision. If heaven exists, then it must be a perfect place, which will mean that there are only perfect people there! Thank God there is an answer to this problem; and that brings us to our next point.

 

 

Foreward

A Christian view of morality

Can we have morality without God?

The only foundation for morality - the character of God

Grace, the motivation for morality

Morality from the inside out

How reliable is conscience

Biblical guidelines

The New Testament - the coming of Jesus

New Testament index of Christian behaviour

The centrality of love

Christian morality and future hope

Does it matter how we live?

 



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