RE: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)

From: Bill Powers <>
Date: Sun Nov 08 2009 - 10:10:16 EST


It being Sunday, I will again reply to what you say here, although what I will
say I, and likely others, have already said.

But, like I said, it being Sunday and good teaching is always worth repeating
over and over again.

1) God's "morality" has not changed, nor will it.
2) "Eye for an eye" is not opposed to "reasonable justice" it is exactly what
is meant by "reasonable justice." You have tried to make it sound silly, but
that is because you haven't read and apparently refuse to read (I can only
believe) the case law provided in Scripture.
3) Jesus' Sermon on the Mount is not intended to create a new law, but rather
to explicate and clarify what is already the Law. It was delivered explicitly
to all us Pharisees who believe that we can enumerate and delimit what is Good
to the straining of gnats, but the swallowing of entire camels (Mt 23:24).
The perfect Law of God requires that we be perfect as He is perfect, a
reference to Lev 19:2, and wholly consistent with the OT teaching of God's
perfect Law. What exactly do you think the implications of the First
Commandment are? Jesus in the Sermon of the Mount is laying out our
inescapable violation of the Law, a violation whose consequences were well
known, and our desperate need for a Savior. Should we turn the other cheek?
Jesus did. Can we do so in all instances and still survive, even to the doing
of good in this sinful world? No. Again, I refer you to Romans 12:19-13:5.
4) The question is not OUR moral level, but what is moral and right. Again,
we must distinguish man's law and God's. Man's law can only deal with what is
enforceable and outward. God's need not. Man's law is only intended to bring
a semblance of order and peace among men, God's can and does require much
more. What is right and "reasonable" in man's eyes need not be in God's. Who
the heck do we think we are (Romans 9:14-29)? What is reasonable in man's eyes
is what makes civil law, including the right and practice of self-defense.
What Jesus and the Prophets never tired of preaching was that satisfaction of
man's law, no matter how reasonable, does not equate to satisfying God's
Perfect Law. You all fall short of the glory of God. Got it?
5) I have no idea how and on what basis you can judge Moses or Jesus. From
where are you deriving "moral law"? Indeed, how can you and on what basis can
you judge anyone's behavior or morality? Is your position arbitrary? Is it
simply a matter of who can enforce their "morality" on another? Is this
right? How would one know? Why believe what is "reasonable" to someone is
"moral"? What if there is disagreement? How and on what basis can it be
resolved? Is morality simply what we do?
6) If you want to further the discussion, let's discuss the relevance and
application of certain aspects of the application of God's Law that are today
considered "extreme." For example, consider the stoning laws of Lev 24 and
Deut 22.
7) It has been said that the basis of sin (maybe we need to distinguish this
from immorality) is rejecting the god-ness of God. Following Kierkegaard,
this can be said even of the "moral" person.

May the Lord keep us as His own,


"Dehler, Bernie" <> said:

> Merv said:
> "if I may exaggerate the point. I don't pretend that we are morally
superior to the ancients --not at all. We have just been entrusted with more;
 much more."
> No, it sounds to me like you are saying, by way of your example, that we are
more moral and can take a higher moral teaching. Now if you truly think we
are no more moral than those in the OT, and we are just entrusted with more;
why are we entrusted with more? What is the reason for that? If we are at
basically the same moral level as those in the OT, then they could have been
entrusted just as well as us.
> Then there's the second level of discussion of even judging the morality of
Jesus' redefinition (as well as that of the OT rule). I think both the OT
"eye for eye" and NT sayings "turn the other cheek to an evil doer" are
extreme and wrong; the right path is what most people do, in the middle
(reasonable justice rather than 'eye for eye' and self-defense rather than
'turn the other cheek'). And if you think 'turn the other cheek' is not
literal but only metaphorical, I don't see that when trying to see how the
original hearers would have received it in context. And my concern is how
Jesus meant it, and how it was received, at the time it was given.
> There is the "smart God of physics and biology" (as ID points to); and these
moral sayings look more to me like that of ancient man rather than a "smart
God of morals." Could anyone have done better than Jesus and Moses for their
time and place? Seems like the obvious answer is "yes," especially if they
were getting direction from God almighty.
> Just my opinion.
> ...Bernie
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Merv Bitikofer []
> Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2009 5:46 PM
> To: Dehler, Bernie; asa
> Subject: Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)
> Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> > Murray said: "That said, however, I would want to urge that we err when we
introduce the Sermon on the Mount as part of that problem. People often speak
as though the Sermon on the Mount is primarily a critique or abrogation of the
Law (a "new law" or "new morality") when it is, as I understand it, directed
not at the Law itself, but squarely at its misuse by the religious hierarchy
in first century Judaism."
> >
> > I think the glaring problem with this idea is that Jesus quoted (and
corrected) the OT verse, not a teaching of a 'religious hierarchy' based on
some verse.
> >
> If I may jump way back to this objection of yours, Bernie; I have a
> comparison that might be of value.
> We could imagine a group of young students who take sloppy notes (when
> they take them at all) and have no experience recording or presenting
> organized lab data from some school science project they are in. What
> they do write is a scrawled mess. The teacher steps in with
> requirements and tells them: "you will write neatly in just this
> format, and give me at least three coherent sentences of conclusion
> about your data."
> A year or so later, another science teacher tells the same students:
> "Did that last teacher tell you to handwrite your reports and give at
> least three sentences of conclusion?" "In MY class you will type your
> reports and I require fully developed paragraphs discussing the lab
> objectives and your conclusion, in addition to graphs presenting your
> raw data!"
> Nobody should conclude that the second teacher contradicted the first
> and overturned everything the earlier teacher had taught. In fact, he
> was building on it ---pressing students into their new discomfort zones
> so they can keep growing. Like Pete has so nicely noted, it's a
> trajectory. You need to remember that Levi & Simeon premeditated a
> massacre of a whole village as revenge over Dinah's rape. This is the
> moral landscape into which a law is inserted which says there will be
> one eye for one eye. Getting them to do much more than that (loving
> their enemies, even! ---and yes there are hints at that even in the
> O.T.) might have been analogous to my marching into a Kindergarten
> classroom to announce my formal requirements for typed essays and lab
> reports --if I may exaggerate the point. I don't pretend that we are
> morally superior to the ancients --not at all. We have just been
> entrusted with more; much more.
> --Merv
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Received on Sun Nov 8 10:11:02 2009

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