I am asking this from an Universalist perspective. Considering that much of Universalism rests on moral ground, and the rejection of infernalism rests on moral repulsion. Basically is God able to do what he wants, whether its to any benefit, or is he bound to some moral code that prevents him from harming people? There is a third philosophy of a kind of pantheism, where God is the collective desire of all humanity.
IMO God is the creator, keeper, and final say on morality.
In Him we live and move and have our being.
God can do what He wants. But He doesn’t want to do works which are immoral, because it is not His nature to do so.
Perhaps you are asking the old-age question from moral philosophy, “Is a behaviour morally right because God command it? Or does God command a behaviour because it is morally right?”
I believe the latter—that God command a behaviour because it is morally right.
Like Paidion, I think the classic view is that God is not bound to any thing or standard external to Himself, but God is by nature bound to reflect his own holy & loving character. Then, the only salient question is whether that character is good. For a Christian’s bet that Jesus best reflects the character of God will then mean that holding something is right because it is morally good, or that it is right because God declares it so, are equivalent.
I wonder if this is one of those unanswerable questions, due to the limits of human language and intellect, like the omnipotence paradox
When freedom of the will is taken into account, the “omnipotence paradox” loses its paradoxical nature. For God wants all people to choose to submit to His authority and to choose righteousness of their own free will. If He sovereignly removed evil from the world, and enforced righteousness, we would not be a race of free-will agents, but a race of robots.
I think so Joe. I think there are elements of these questions that are meant to be beyond absolute definition. “Who has known the mind of the Lord and who has been His counselor”…
1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,
2 “Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
3 “Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!
4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you [a]have understanding,
5 Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?
6 “On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,
7 When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
I believe in some things God has deliberately left the “fuzzy edges” seen through a glass darkly to keep us humble, tolerant and seeking. The furthest poles of most paradoxes are usually the furthest from the truth, there adherents all the while thinking they are closest to it.
You’re asking the Euthyphro Dilemma, from Socrates (though originally he asked it about the gods; but it applies to a single God Most High, too, which is how it has been usually applied afterward).
Much of the unique point to trinitarian theism (and admittedly binitarian theism) is the idea that the one and only ground of all existence (the ground of being) is a mutually supporting self-sacrificial interpersonal relationship. Thus the ground of all being (even the ground of the ground of all being!) is essentially love being actively and eternally fulfilled. The greatest power isn’t the power to merely cause effects, which can be easily depersonalizing, but the power of distinct persons to love one another in service for one another.
God on this theory doesn’t only command morality, and doesn’t only do morality, and doesn’t require a moral standard superior to God, and doesn’t require relating to a not-God reality in order to be moral. God is essentially morality, and not in a merely static way (if that was even possible) but in an always-intentionally active way.
Which has massive implications for universal salvation, including a theologically unique level of assurance (though if lesser theologies are true instead universal salvation could still be true and perhaps even assured.) God won’t ever act in such a way as to permanently break interpersonal communion between persons, although He may tolerate or even act to bring about temporary breaks (between created persons) in order to get other things done. That would be for God to act against the principle action of God’s own self-existence. Theoretically God could do that, but not practically do so and continue to exist as God – and if God self-annihilates that way then all reality, including our past, present, and future, also ceases to exist. So we wouldn’t be here to even talk about the theoretical possibility, though we can acknowledge it (and deny it will ever happen).
That’s a somewhat overly short account of the theological implications of trinitarian (or at least binitarian) theism for morality. But it’s how I came, rather suddenly and unexpectedly, to believe some kind of universal salvation must be true.
Edited to add: those logical connections do not in themselves mean at-least-binitarian theism is true. That question has to be settled one way or another before arriving at the topic of morality.
Tell them that “I Am” sent you. The morality that flows from God is His being, character… He is light, He is love. Jesus is the radiance of the Father’s glory and the exact representation of His nature. There is no way(imo) to separate God from His morality as it is a simple word for “who He is” governing “how He acts”, and that is being transmitted to us and through us because of our relatioship with Him in the True Vine. Love is intrinsicly moral and there is no morality outside of love…God is love.
It is actually the best argument for trinitarianism or bintarianism that I have heard…that the only purpose for being is relationship. Kind of hard to love yourself, so the eternal nature of a relationship between God and Christ at least makes sense within that paradigm. the Spirit being either their union, or the medium of their union and the medium within which all who are gathered into the all in all(or a third person acting in the same way as a medium).
Like particles suspended in a viscous fluid(the Spirit), beings translated out of darkness(behold the earth was without form and void) and into the kingdom of His glorious light(let there be light)- gathered into one, into the all in all.
I would not consider myself a trinitarian in the classic sense of co-equal, co-eternal, co-essential. i believe co-essential is correct, tho…and the esence is love, which means it is the ground of being and is moral in the fact that it is always true in the expression of itself. (No variableness or shadow of turning- God is light and in Him there is no darkness).
But, what is it to God that we freely choose him? Think about this for a minute. Does God need our praise? Does it ‘make his day’ when we freely choose him? If so, doesn’t that mean He is seeking his own? This is quite a paradox, in my opinion. If God is truly not needing of anything, then what is it to him if a bunch of pathetic creatures like us worship him? I could care less if a dog worshipped me. We are far less than Dogs in comparison.
Now, it might make my day to see my dog happy and pain free. But not for my sake, though, for his. Still, I don’t see how free will would play into that type of thing.
Edit ** For the actual topic. If God said that evil is good and good is evil, God would be wrong. He might still be a God, but I doubt that even. Evil itself cannot continue to exist forever. At some point it will self destruct. Kind of like our society… Someone wanted to know about what would happen if we had a Holodeck. We would have a destitute population who continually thinks and does evil and fulfills their evil desires in their Holodeck. Pretty soon VR tech is going to be out and we will be fat lazy slobs watching VR type programs that are more than likely based on evil desires. We won’t go outside, we will all be addicts. We already our, to our cell phones, computers, etc… Imagine how much more when technology will be implanted and even more integrated into our lives.
I am not doom and gloom, but on this matter, I honestly don’t see how we will climb out of this debauchery we are currently living in, and each year we are heading into more and more of it. 1st world nations are getting fatter, lazier, dumber, lacking self control, fear mongering, warmongering… Not sure how anyone can’t see how pathetic we have become without God [That is, we rejecting God via our morality, not that he rejects us]. Still, there is hope, so long as Christ reigns.
He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
New Living Translation
Jesus also used this illustration: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
English Standard Version
He told them another parable. “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.”
God has hidden the yeast in the dough of the world and He is kneading it into the dough until it is leavened throughout…
I have been wondering if we attribute to God our way of moralizing. Since at the heart of how we moralize is that we tend to moralize when we dont get our way. Like a popular behavior in the churches today is over church hymns used. I have seen that people can quickly condemn any modern or new music used in the liturgy. Among some traditionalist Catholics, Gregorian Chant is seen as the only proper form of worship. Some liturgical conservatives see organ and choir as the only proper church music. Where most of it seems more rooted in a preference for older music, whether its Gregorian Chant, Motets, Reformation hymns, baroque hymns, or gospel.
I have noticed that what we call duties is nothing more than some form of collective preference. Like what is popular in politics is to be self righteous about affirming certain political ideologies. Particularly because with political decisions-making, ones preference can determine whether we get our way. But what it seems to come down to is that any moral rule or principle is grounded solely in preference that is treated as superior. For example, an authoritarian moral system would be especially beneficial to someone who prefers to not have to make decisions, but not so for someone who prefers to make their own decisions. Or a politically correct morality would be beneficial to overly sensitive people, but not so much to outspoken people.
Which has me questioning if morality at least from the carnal aspect is totally centered around a competitive outlook of the world, where for one to win, the other has to lose. Since in our understanding of nature, thats how things work out.
The “collective preference” to which you refer can be passed off as “morality” but I see it as a better description of worldliness or social pressure.
Every culture on earth espouses the same basic moral principles, but varies in how those principles are applied, depending upon their reasoning about them.
Take, for example, the principle of loving and caring for parents. I have been told that in one culture, the custom was to kill one’s father when he reached age 60. To most this would be quite contrary to the principle of loving and caring for parents. But it seems that in that culture, it is believed that in the next life, one remains forever in whatever health condition he was in when he died. So to prevent their fathers from having to be crippled and in pain forever, these people killed their fathers at age 60 when they were still relatively whole and healthy. They were actually trying to fulfill the principle of loving and caring for their fathers. (I don’t know how they treated their mothers with respect to the afterlife).
Great discussion peoples!
I do believe (being a determinist) that all of reality reflects God and his nature. As Jason suggested, this means the creation (Libertarians would say “allowance”) of evil for the purpose of establishing what is truly, purely the highest form of good - loving your enemies. A friend of mine put it quite well - God is anti-evil, and hence needs to demonstrate this anti-evil through the destruction of evil and the amplification of good.
Paidion - highlighted a great point that people have different actions based on their motives. Could it be that motive is a determining factor of what is good?
Ultimately, I personally think Christians are generally on an unhelpful page when it comes to deciding what is moral. We can arbitrarily choose to adhere to “good rules” without taking in context and motivation. Jesus said that if we love our neighbour then this would show the world that we are His. This is not an abstract goal to attain to but a practical and contextual principle. If we are generally doing good for some abstract morality then we forget the purpose for the practical morality advocated by Jesus. What is good is what brings about lasting happiness of union and relationship. Jason pointed out that in his talk about the Trinity modelling love and relationship. For example, Jesus demonstrated that saving a donkey and eating is more important than having a Sabbath etc.
Instead of saying abstractly what is morally right or wrong, we need to talk about why in its particular context it is right or wrong. This helps to get away from asking whether God is subject to morality or whether morality is subject to God. If we ask what is practical for the purposes of lasting joy and fellowship (which it seems is how people are generally made in the image of God) then we have a none bigoted plumb line open to contexts and helpful actions and motives. God is moral because morality is harmonious. God being harmonious is a philosophical condition that would fit rather well with an everlasting and all powerful God.