From the beginning of recorded history there have been, “ought,” statements that were accepted and also disregarded. Adam was instructed that he; “ought,” not eat from the tree in the middle of the garden; but he did. Still, it was clearly a case of an absolutist, “ought,” statement. As children we were told we shouldn’t run with scissors, we should be seen and not heard, we ought to treat others the way we want to be treated, we should respect our elders, we should… we should… we should. But then all of a sudden a philosophy emerges that tells us that, “should,” is purely subjective and that things are never really good or bad, they simply, are.”
The enlightened view today is that morality is subjective and that what is right for one is not necessarily right for another. Holding moral principles is a fine thing as long as one doesn’t try to hold anyone other than themselves to those principles. It has become typical to say that something as brutal as abortion is neither, right, nor wrong but rather, lies between a moral imperative and the rights of women. One faction claims that women have the right to decide what they can do with their own bodies and another is adamant that once a pregnancy occurs that it no longer a matter of doing to one’s own body any more but one of considering that there is a new and separate life which is owed a voice.
This is not intended to be a definitive moral declaration on abortion, per se, (though I have a definite opinion regarding the debate), but is a consideration of the larger issue concerning the existence of, or the appropriateness of asserting moral imperatives. Is there such a thing as right or wrong or is everything subject to the relative nature of the newly enlightened quasi-philosophers? It seems entirely wrong to have an, “expert,” explain that there is no objective moral, “ought,” and then tell us how we ought to act. There is no justification for claiming that we, “should/should not,” or, “ought/ought not,” behave in a certain manner and then profess that we should, or ought to be tolerant of all views.
The newly enlightened avant-garde is quick to decry all that has previously been held as morally correct in favor of a morally relative view that says that it all depends on your personal point of view. But isn’t this obviously self-defeating? How can you claim that there is no objective truth or moral standard except the objective truth or moral absolute that the statement just made is correct? Can the only true statement be that there is no truth? It makes me think of the scene in Caddyshack where Rodney Dangerfield is looking at a hat in the Pro-Shop and says, “Ah, this is the worst looking hat I ever saw. I bet when you buy a hat like this, you get a free bowl of soup huh?” Then turning and seeing Ted Knight wearing the same hat says, “But it looks good on you.”
The beliefs we hold go through this same treatment and we are apt to say things like, “This theology is the most bazaar stuff I’ve ever heard, but it’s great for you.” Either it is, or it is not acceptable and our job it to parse the particulars to see if it holds up. We have to determine whether or not there is anything rightfully called truth and if there is, to find it and act in faithful response to it. Can there be an up, without a down? Can high exist unless low is also present? How can there be light unless we know that the alternative is darkness? Can free love occur unless there is an option to not love? Can we decide to be obedient unless we have the option to be disobedient? Can a lie exist unless there is a thing known as truth on the opposing end of the balance?
Who can deny that lies abound? But if they abound then doesn’t that presuppose the potential for truth abounding also? And if truth abounds, how can it be anything other than absolute. I would argue that there are no shades of white or black. There is black. And there is white; in between there are an infinite series of shades of grey, but black and white are the absolutes. In theology there is truth and everything else. Unless a thing is absolutely true, it’s something less than true and if it’s less than true, it is false. Perhaps one thing is further from the absolute truth than another thing but both are untrue.
As Christians, we claim that faith in Jesus is the ONLY way to heaven. This is extremely offensive to most people but if it is true, is the offense our fault? If a people is offended by the truth then isn’t it the fault of the ones who hold a false opinion? So the question becomes one that asks, “Why is the truth I claim to believe any truer than that of anyone else?” This drags us into the Christian apologetic argument and while I love to spend time in that arena, it isn’t where I want to spend time with this column. The point is this; truth exists, and as such, statements of, “ought,” and, “should,” are appropriate if the foundations for those statements are solid.
It is ridiculous for a professing Christian to assert that the Bible is true and then turn around and allow that other supposed holy books are also true when they contradict one another. We cannot say that we should follow a Saviour based on the truth of Scripture but excuse other faiths when they claim we all have a different piece of the same elephant. A Christian is obligated to draw a distinction between Christian doctrine, (there is only one God), and a doctrine that teaches that we may all become gods at some point in the eternal future. A real Christian will cling to the truth that Jesus Christ is the One who paid the price for his sin and bought his salvation at the cost of His blood on Calvary’s cross. As Christians we know that belief in God is not enough. We know that it is only by faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus that we can be saved.
So then, there is truth and we ought to believe it. Christendom is not based on premises that simply, “ARE,” but on absolute truth. We should hold out the truth to anyone willing to hear it and not stand in judgment over those we deem hopeless or unable to grasp the Gospel of Jesus the way we do. Remember that before our conversions, we were without hope also. Any philosophic assertion that says there is no right or wrong; that things just, “are,” is a philosophy that is neither true nor false, but simply, “is.” The only truth cannot be that there is no truth.
We are not ALL children of God, all roads do not lead to the top of the mountain, all religions do not worship the same God and every theological philosophy is not equal. Charles Spurgeon said, “This Bible is the anvil on which many a hammer of critics has been worn out.” We have the truth of Scripture to base our philosophy upon and we need not fear that what others find offensive is our problem. If someone is offended by the claim that fire is hot, or that water is wet, it cannot be helped and is not our fault. Neither can we alter the claim to satisfy those offended parties; water IS wet and fire IS hot. There is a proper, “Should,” there is a justifiable, “Ought,” and there certainly is a correct, “Is.” We OUGHT to trust the truth of the Bible; we SHOULD accept Jesus for our salvation because IT is…
All for the Glory of Christ