This is the ninth in a long series on the reformation of Christianity. I was challenged to write on this by Graham Pemberton. This series does not argue for the truth of Christianity. I’ve discussed that in many of my 200 plus posts on Medium. Instead, to analyze where Christianity as a faith or belief system may be going, I am first exploring “the good” or why I think the beliefs are beneficial and contribute to human flourishing. I welcome courteous comments.
In this post I explain what I see as the benefits of believing in a God of justice and judgment.
Earlier we talked about why believing in moral realism is better than believing in moral relativity. This is an expansion of that conviction. Moral realism is the idea that our basic ideas of good and evil as categories exist not within limits of spacetime, matter and forces, but in a kind of Platonic world of forms. This is an argument for good and evil as real, or as “ontological” as the philosophers would say. Moral relativity is closely linked to physicalism which says since there is nothing ontological outside of spacetime, matter and forces then any idea of an “outside” reality that includes good and evil is nonsense. The consequences are obvious and becoming more obvious every day, it seems.
Judges 21:25 says:
“In those days Israel had no king: all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”
This is a picture of lawlessness. If humans are not restrained by laws and by a strong moral compass, why would they not enter a store and take whatever they want off the shelves? Why would they not settle disputes by resorting to whatever weapons they had at hand? The social animal known as human would quickly devolve into following only the dictates of their selfish genes and pursue whatever pleasure they could find in this brief life. History tends to make that rather clear. The situation for the people of Israel had gotten desperate. To see how desperate, how ugly, how terrifyingly stupid humans doing what is right in their own eyes looks like, read the last chapters of Judges. Verse 25 quoted above is the final verse in this very tragic book.
The narrative is continued in 1 Samuel chapter 8. The people beg for a king. Samuel, the prophet, following God’s…