Sunday, November 30, 2008

Worldview Class – Part 12 –Christian Ethics

This is a continuation of highlighted topics discussed in a worldview class I am teaching on Sunday morning. The main text for the study is The Battle for Truth by David Noebel. A good deal of this class is also based on personal research.

Ethics are defined as “the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc." Specifically, the study of ethics attempts to answer the question “Who makes the rules – God or man?”

Christian ethics differ from those of other worldviews in at least two significant areas. First, they are rooted in the revealed nature of a supernatural source – God. Second, they are universally applied and unchanging over time. God’s ethics are used to delineate true right from true wrong. And these rules, properly applied by the Christian, should be argued without apology. Waffling on God’s stated principles only gives rise to doubts about His supremacy. “Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels” (2 Timothy 2:23).

The Christian has a distinct advantage in the ethical realm, because rather than rely on man’s ever-changing mood, and noting that no two people are created alike, the Christian’s ethical definition is derived from a single question – what conforms to God’s character? The answer is not random, nor is it open to man’s interpretation. God left three sources to assist man in understanding His moral compass. The first is general revelation – the revealed nature of God displayed in His creation around us. Because this revelation is often interpreted differently by different individuals, God also left additional help in special revelation – the Bible. No other worldview can claim such a solid, unified historical source as the Bible – thousands of years old and corroborated by multiple archaeological discoveries.

For the Christian, the guiding moral code given by God is a real, non-changing entity – like the law of gravity or the speed of light. It is a proven, solid moral direction, and is not to be ultimately challenged. Violation of God’s ethic entails very real consequences – sin which is left unresolved carries a death penalty. And this brings into play the third source of assistance from God – the life of Jesus Christ. His crucifixion provided the fulfillment of God’s promise that sin must be followed by death (Romans 6:23), but for the benefit of mankind the punishment was not given to those who deserved it. We sinned – but Christ was the one who died to make atonement – so we can enjoy the benefits of an eternity spent with God. It’s a wondrous plan, and speaks volumes about God’s character and how much He wants to be involved with us, His creation, for all eternity. But beware – the person who leaves their sin unresolved and refuses God’s gift of atonement must pay the ultimate price, which is eternal separation from God.

What is the purpose of God’s plan? Why doesn’t He simply “wind up” the universe and let it play out on its own, like some sort of cosmic video game? Because Christian ethics, unlike other worldviews, have one grand purpose – to glorify God. The whole plan and its fulfillment serve to show how loving our God is. Those that would argue that ‘a truly loving God would never send people away to eternal damnation’ are not seeing the simplicity of God’s plan. He offers a free gift – Jesus’ sacrifice to atone for our sins - followed by the promise of eternal life with Him. How much more generous must He be? Would you insist that not only the gift be free, but it should also be enjoyed by those who refuse to accept it? God is the Creator and He sets the rules. People may question Him and try to impose their rules on Him, but that will not change the fact that His plan will reign. A humble acceptance of this point is what He demands. The Christian is broken before Him, and bows to God’s wishes, His moral code, and His eternal plan. In the words of D. James Kennedy, “When a person makes up his own ethical code, he always makes up an ethical system which he thinks he has kept. In the law of God, we find a law which smashes our self-righteousness, eliminates all trust in our own goodness, and convinces us that we are sinners. The law of God leaves us with our hands over our mouths and our faces in the dust. We are humbled before God and convinced that we are guilty transgressors of His law.”

Christian ethics (and indeed truth) are unique in five ways: 1) they are whole (no additives needed), 2) they are never-changing (not situational), 3) they are revealed (given by God through nature, the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ), 4) they are required (ignoring them entails consequences), and 5) they are one (well-defined and universal).

Go back to the main index for all twelve Parts.

If you are interested in portions, or all of this twelve part series taught in an engaging, educational fashion, please contact Alan at Banyan Concepts.

No comments: