Sep 30, 2011

Apples and Apples

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Moral Relativism (4)
By T.M. Moore | Published Date: September 19, 2011


A response to relativism?
Relativism by any other name is still relativism.
We have been examining three of the perspectives on moral relativism which were part of a symposium in the January 9, 2011, issue of Philosophy Now. The three authors dealt with relativism from a different perspective, but it’s clear they were all describing the same elephant.
In the February 26, 2011, issue of Philosophy Now, Dr. Mitchell Silver responded to the writers in that symposium by insisting that what he calls “moral objectivism” is not only possible, it is in fact inescapable.
Dr. Silver explains that moral objectivism, as he propounds it, is grounded in rules – of permissibility and impermissibility – and these rules, taken together, exist apart from fleeting emotions, changing times, or any other of the criteria relativists appeal to in order to justify their own ethical practices. He insists that “moral objectivism is at least as rational, as well-grounded, and as consistent with reality, as any alternative metaethic.” His response intends to assert the superiority of “moral objectivism” over moral relativism.
What he actually accomplishes, however, is something very different.
To make his point, Dr. Silber demonstrates that all people live by rules. We can’t get away from them. We abide by the rules of the road, for example, as we drive to work. We accept certain rules with respect to doing our jobs, having meaningful conversations, managing a checking account, and so forth. These rules tell us what is permissible, and they mark out as well the boundaries of impermissibility. The rules by which we live “motivate actions and determine judgments” – they serve, that is, as ethical guidelines.
Everyone has rules like this, Dr. Silver explains, even though a person may claim to be a moral relativist. However, whenever rules are involved, morality is constrained by boundaries external to the doer, and this, he contends, is a form of objectivism.
Objectivists all
Without explicitly saying so, Dr. Silver demonstrates that even the most adamantly relativist thinker is to some extent a moral objectivist, even though he may not be aware of it: “Moral objectivism requires only the acceptance of a set of permissibility rules. This involves no metaphysical delusions. Your permissibility rules may be tolerant, liberal, modest, tentative and undogmatic, or the opposite. So long as they are truly yours, you are a moral objectivist.”
Thus Dr. Silver makes a point similar to the one we have made on this subject before: Even the most free-wheeling and unfettered relativism implies a fixed assumption that such an approach to ethical living is the right of every person. This is an objective assertion, a starting-point for ethics which is taken as fixed and only reluctantly changeable. And the inevitable tendency of all human beings to seize on one or another such fixed assumptions derives from something inherently human, something that cannot escape the need for an objective tether.
This need is explained in Scripture by the fact that all people are made in the image of God and thus, in the very depths of their being, reflect the objective reality, and at least some awareness of or inclination toward, of the Deity and His fixed rules.
But Dr. Silver explains that there can be many forms of moral objectivism: “The only requirement for your moral objectivist status is that the rules you accept classify some actions as morally out-of-bounds. And objectivism is not totalitarianism: even if you believe there are some things that no one ought to do, you can believe that there are many ways to lead an overall good life, and many situations that permit different courses of action. Hence a moral objectivist can be an ethical pluralist.”
So “moral objectivism” as Dr. Silver defines it merely describes a universe of like-minded individuals – a universe as small as even one – who abide by similar rules of engagement, but whose rules of engagement may be dramatically different from those of other individuals and groups, and all still be perfectly valid.
Apples and apples
This is relativism. Dr. Silver is not, in the end, comparing apples with oranges, but apples with apples. So not only does Dr. Silver succeed in demonstrating that all relativists have an undeniable need for objective truth, he also shows that all “objectivism” which is not anchored in God and revelation – as his view is not – is but another form, albeit somewhat circumscribed, of relativism.
A consistent system of ethics apart from God is impossible. In order to make any ethical progress whatsoever, unbelieving ethicists must disguise the fact that they borrow against divinely-revealed truth in order to achieve any semblance of coherence and congruency for their own views. But then they compromise that borrowed truth, living it out inconsistently, in an effort to make room for their preferred views on this, that, and the other.
All unbelieving ethical systems therefore point to the ethics of Scripture, even as they deny that such an ethics should be embraced. The only way to overcome the strong allure of the path of mere self-interest marked out by moral relativism is to teach and practice consistent Biblical ethics, grounded in the Law of God, the teaching of the Prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles, and the grand tradition of the Christian Church.
To do the right thing
But where – as today – such vigorous ethical instruction is lacking, moral relativism, in one guise or another, will hold the field. Churches that do not teach their people to do the right thing, thinking and acting according to Biblical precepts and practices, are setting them up to blown about by the relativist winds of the age, whatever form those may take.
But God does not intend for His people to be blown about by false winds of doctrine. He intends our sails to be filled with pure wind of His Spirit, billowing in the direction of Christ-likeness, as we sail even the most turbulent and changeable seas according to the charts and guidance of the Lord.
C. S. Lewis once wrote, “The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments.” In terms of Christian ethics, the right way to keep from being jerked about by every nuance of relativistic thinking is to anchor in the Word of God, doing the right thing according to the teaching of the whole counsel of God in Scripture.
Order your copy of our new DVD series, Doing the Right Thingand learn why Christian and Biblical ethics are so desperately needed today. You might also read the article, “Codes Are Not Enough: Why We Need Ethics,” by Charles Colson.
Here’s a great idea for dealing withAmerica’s moral crisis:do away with morality! Yeah, great idea. T. M. explains in this week’sPerspectivescolumn



 
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Sep 29, 2011

The Mouse that Roars

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Back in May, a venerable Gallup poll revealed that most Americans think that over 20 percent of the population is homosexual. Only four percent believe-correctly--that homosexuals are less than five percent of the population (a leading homosexual researcher puts the figure at 1.7% homosexual and 1.8% bisexual). 


The percentage of those who are in long-term partnerships is even lower. The Census Bureau on Tuesday released updated estimates of the number of American households headed by same-sex couples. The bottom line? There aren't many--only one in every 180 households. 


Maybe the new numbers will help leaders to realize that there's no political gain in pandering to such a tiny population. Although the Census Bureau referred to some of those couples as "married"--in apparent violation of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (under which the federal government recognizes only opposite-sex marriages)--the data nevertheless reinforced a key argument against same-sex "marriage."


A paper based on the American Community Survey, whose findings were similar to the census count, found that even in the states which allow same-sex "marriage," only 42% of the same-sex couples who lived together identified themselves as "married." We need to restore marriage as the normative setting for sex, procreation, and childrearing--not redefine it for the benefit of a group that's already rejected that norm. 

 
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Sep 28, 2011

Pulpit Freedom Sunday - Who decides?

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“Losing tax exempt status” can no longer be cited as a valid concern for pastors to not preach and teach Biblically about social issues, current events and the responsibility of our representatives and the Church. Urge your pastor to participate in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. 

 
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Sep 27, 2011

Abolish Morality?

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Moral Relativism (3)
By T.M. Moore | Published Date: September 12, 2011


No morals, only feelings
Can we depend on a view of ethics based solely on passion and the will to compromise?
This is the view of Dr. Richard Garner, emeritus professor of philosophy at Ohio State University. Dr. Garner adds his contribution to the symposium on moral relativism which appeared in the January 9, 2011, issue of Philosophy Now("Morality: The Final Delusion?").
Of the various perspectives on moral relativism presented thus far in this series, Dr. Garner's is at least the most consistent. His view is based on "moral error theory", which insists that it is a mistake to believe than anything like morality actually exists. Morality, he explains, is not something out there for us to discover - whether through our feelings, communities, or imaginations. Rather, morality simply doesn't exist; it's something we've made up in an effort to bring order to our relationships and responsibilities.
Dr. Garner proposes that we abolish all language and thinking that contains a moral component - anything "that implies objective values or objective moral rules that are independent of human decisions, desires, agreements, or demands."
There is no such thing as morality, no right and wrong. There are only our desires and what we have to do, in relationships with others, to realize as many of those desires as we can.
How’s that work?
In order to make this work, first, we have to suspend all negative moral judgments. We have to stop thinking in terms of right and wrong. Instead, we need to examine our own responses to people and situations and be willing to identify and evaluate our feelings about this, that, or the other. Then we can consider how to move in the direction of what we would like to see happen. Instead of judging people, no matter what they've done, we need to face the real possibility that our view of the situation might be wrong or misinformed.
If we can avoid all moral judgments in such situations, and learn to do the hard work of introspection, what we'll be left with is the "ability to express and communicate our attitudes, feelings, and requirements."
But how does this help us in situations where something looking like a moral choice between two options - and especially, two people - might otherwise seem to be in order? Dr. Garner explains, "Instead of telling others about their moral obligations, we can tell them what we want them to do, and then we can explain why." He continues, "We can express annoyance, anger, and enthusiasm, each of which has an effect on what people do, and none of which requires language that presupposes objective values or obligations."
That done, we can then "start looking for compromise." Because it’s a good bet no one’s going to give in to what we want just like that. We’ll need to dicker a bit here.
So there is no such thing as morality. All we have are situations and opportunities, before which we feel a certain way and identify certain outcomes we would like to realize, and the people to whom we must express our feelings and desires, in the hope that we can achieve some compromise in which all parties get something they want.
Is that realistic?
Dr. Garner evidences an unrealistically high view of human beings - that they can be honest about their feelings, suspend judgment against those with whom they disagree, achieve compromises agreeable to all, and so personalize this process that it becomes a substitute for learning and practicing moral norms. Dr. Garner does not offer any instances where this has worked, only hypothetical situations where it might be worth a try.
The idea that human beings will defer to others, suspend judgment, engage in meaningful dialog, and agree to compromise sounds really good on paper. But I can think of nowhere such an approach to ethical living has ever been tried and succeeded on a society-wide basis. People who have strong feelings and the power to realize those feelings - whether intellectual, social, or political power - are going to wield that power to their own advantage, while those who dither and defer seeking compromise are going to be left in the dust. Look at the morass which is the American political system today. How’s that compromise bit working out in DC?
Morals and the language of morality
It is idealistic in the extreme to envision abolishing all moral language and judgments. People are moral beings. God has written the works of the Law on the hearts of all people, and even if their bottom line is only self-expression and compromise, those are moral oughts they - including Dr. Garner - cannot do without.
People are also sinners, and are reluctant to act in the interest of people other than themselves and their closest associates. Offers to compromise in many ethical situations are going to be received as towels tossed into the ring.
We cannot do away with the language of morality, and we cannot find within our own desires and best thoughts about others the keys to a truly moral society. This way may seem right to some people, but in the end, it is but another way to death.


How dangerous is moral relativism? Order your copy of our new DVD series,Doing the Right Thing, and lead a group of your friends in understanding our present crisis of ethics. You should also read the article, “‘Society Says’ Relativism,” by Greg Koukl.




 
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Sep 26, 2011

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

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Moral Relativism (2)
By T.M. Moore|Published Date: August 29, 2011


Who’s to say?
In a famous scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the lord of a castle seeks to bring peace to warring opponents by saying, “Now, now, let’s not fight and squabble about who killed who.”
His point is that a little mayhem and death are inevitable, but enough’s enough when he’s had enough. And who was to say he was wrong? He was the ruler. 

Moral relativism is a bit like that. Some moral relativists, such as Dr. Jesse Prinz, believe that morals are a function of emotions. How we feel, and how we learn to feel, about certain actions, will determine our choice of actions in the days to come. Early emotional responses build into a repertoire of choices and behaviors which function as our ethical framework.
Yet while a certain amount of emotion is necessary, and gives rise to our sense of moral “oughtness,” too much emotion can be dangerous and, thus, needs to be controlled.
But who is to decide on such meanings as “dangerous” and “controlled”? Usually it will be those who have the power – persuasive, political, or otherwise – to make their preferences stick.
Moral relativists like Dr. Prinz show that they understand the role of affections in life – a very important role, according to the Scriptures. But they leave as many questions unanswered as answered, including the most basic question of all, “Why should we care about the way anyone feels?”
Morality and culture
Morality as grounded in emotions, however, is but one of several paths of ethical theory which moral relativists tread.
In the same issue of Philosophy Now in which Dr. Prinz’s article appeared, Dr. David Wong, another moral relativist, takes a different tack in trying to justify his relativist approach to moral behavior (“Making An Effort to Understand,” January 9, 2011). As we continue our brief analysis of the symposium on moral relativism presented in that issue, we’ll look next at Dr. Wong’s view of the sources of morality.
Dr. Wong explains his view that morality arises not as a function of mere emotions, but as a product of culture. People cannot not live together; therefore, they must learn to cooperate and get along. As they do, systems of cooperation emerge which solidify, over time, into moral codes prescribing proper ethical conduct. Social pressure thus becomes the guiding norm in moral decision-making.
Dr. Wong writes, “Because moral norms have functions, the content of moral norms can be assessed on the basis of their effectiveness in enabling the fulfillment of those functions.” And the functions Dr. Wong has in mind are those that maximize interpersonal cooperation.
But why “interpersonal cooperation” should be a guiding norm – other than that makes sense – is not examined.
In any given culture, the norms and functions contributing to interpersonal cooperation might be different, depending on whatever secondary matters that culture values the most – as, for example, human independency and privacy versus human interdependency and community. But in every culture, “Curbing the unrestrained pursuit of self-interest is obviously something that moral norms have to do.”
But why should that be obvious? And why is “cooperation” a higher value for ethical norms than emotions? Where does the notion of cooperation come from anyway? And why is that a norm to be preferred over, say, competition? Or oppression?
Dr. Wong doesn’t bother to explain such matters. He merely assumes we all agree that you can’t have people running around and doing whatever they feel like doing without regard for others; therefore, society must have some norms, culturally defined, which channel emotions and morals toward maximizing cooperation to the benefit of each and all.
Let me sum up...
We must resist the temptation here to try to explain in detail why Dr. Wong believes that cooperation is a higher moral norm than competition or oppression. Instead, as Inigo Montoya might have said, “Let me sum up.”
The Christian worldview can account for the human preference for cooperation, and it comes down, once again, to the fact that human beings are made in the image of God.
We saw that Dr. Prinz was borrowing on the Biblical teaching about the centrality of affections in human life. Now Dr. Wong is borrowing on the Biblical teaching that man is made for community and mutual respect and love. Evolution teaches that we are our brother’s meal; Scripture teaches that we are our brother’s keeper. This preference for community is a reflection of humans being made in the image of God, Who is a Trinity of Persons in one divine Godhead.
It is important for Christians to understand that, try though they may to get away from unchanging and objective norms and values, moral relativists cannot fully escape the reality and inevitability of their own humanness. They are image-bearers of God, and in order to make any sense at all – and they do offer some good things to ponder – they must borrow on the truth of God, whether or not they understand or acknowledge that this is what they’re doing. In so doing they lend more credence to a Biblical system of ethics and morality than one based on moral relativism in any of its manifestations.
Christians will make their ethical arguments into this conversation by identifying points of intersection between their Biblical view of moral norms and the views of other contributors, and then by showing – through argument and by gracious and hope-filled lives – the reality of the Biblical and Christian understanding of how we ought to live.
But we must be willing to engage the conversation, and we must make certain that, as we engage it, we understand and are living according to a system of moral behavior that is grounded squarely in the revealed truth of Scripture.
How dangerous is moral relativism? Order your copy of our new DVD series,Doing the Right Thing, and lead a group of your friends in understanding our present crisis of ethics. You should also read the article, “‘Society Says’ Relativism,” by Greg Koukl.

 
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Sep 25, 2011

Biggest Evangelistic Project

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Written by Ray Comfort


The “180” project is the biggest evangelistic project we have ever attempted. On one day in the near future, 1,000 Christians will mobilize and give away 200,000 copies of a DVD that proclaims the gospel clearly, and does it biblically. This will be done in 100 of the nation’s top universities, again, in one day. Most of the 1,000 are not your average Christians. Many of them have been through our “Ambassador’s Academy.” This is three days of intense hands-on training, where they learn not only to do one-to-one, but to preach outside the comfort of the walls of the Church…in the open air—like John Wesley and Whitefield, Spurgeon, Jesus, John the Baptist and Paul did. On the day that the gospel is given out to 200,000 people through the “180” DVD, many of our graduates will boldly stand up and proclaim the gospel in the open air.

This isn’t political action, something which I grew weary of many years ago. I have signed many petitions in the hope of seeing political change, but have instead seen issues like homosexuality, promiscuity, pornography, blasphemy, violence, and abortion do nothing but escalate to epidemic proportions. Every four years there is excitement about Christian candidates, in the hope that these will be the ones who will turn our nation back to God. We have even tried to convince secular America that we were established as “one nation under God,” and they couldn’t care less.

But when we look at the Book of Acts—the blueprint of the Church--we don’t find a political agenda. As much as it is encouraging to see men of God in high political office, our agenda is primarily to preach the gospel to every creature, something we have, as a whole, failed to do. In his book, The Coming Revival, Bill Bright said that only 2% of the contemporary Church in America regularly share their faith with others. That means that 98% don’t.

The “180” video begins by addressing ignorance among students as to who Hitler was and what he believed, addresses the holocaust of abortion, and then it moves into a clear biblical gospel. This causes the hardest of hearts to do a complete 180. You see a blasphemous and hate-filled atheist change his mind about God, on-camera, as well as apathy in many others being replaced by deep concern about their own salvation. You see evangelism done as Jesus did it--the addressing of the human conscience, something that has been sadly lacking in much of modern evangelism.

This is why we are making the “180 Course” available in a few weeks. The two-part DVD with a 64-page Study Guide not only teaches Christians how to address the horror of abortion, but it teaches them how to share the biblical gospel. And it does so by using the main evangelism training lesson taken from our “Basic Training Course,” an 8-week DVD study commended by John MacArthur, Ravi Zacharias, and Josh McDowell. We have been working within the Church for many years by using the course to train people to share their faith, with more than 20,000 courses in use by churches and individuals. Evangelism is the heart and soul of our ministry because it is the heartbeat of Jesus Christ. Those who, like the apostle John, rest their head on the breast of the Savior hear that heartbeat.

A number of people have encouraged us to remove the Gospel from “180” and simply use it as a powerful tool in the fight against abortion. But an overweight, blind, and pregnant snail with chronic emphysema has more chance of getting across L.A.’s 405 freeway at peak traffic, than they have of getting the gospel removed from the video. Abortion is just one ugly branch on the evil Adamic tree. The gospel attacks the root, and the only hope for this dying Hell-bound world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We want to mobilize a lukewarm Church. Please help us to do that. 





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Ray Comfort
“Paradigm shattering! A most powerful message that will change and save lives!” ~ Johnny Berguson - Pres. Kingdom, Inc.

“As one who was scheduled to be aborted, this astounding video struck me at my core that this is needed more now than ever. It is more than powerful...it is a vehicle of God's voice to this generation, and must be seen!” ~ Ron DiCianni

 
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Sep 24, 2011

Morals and Emotions: Discovering the Enemy of Biblical Ethics

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Moral Relativism (1)
By T.M. Moore | Published Date: August 15, 2011


The human claim to fame?
Robert Wright once argued that the human being is a “moral animal.” That is, what sets us apart from other animals is a sophisticated sense of “oughtness” – of right and wrong. Human beings, alone among all other creatures, construct systems of morality to guide the choices and actions of their daily lives.
Ethics, in other words, sets us apart. Human beings do not respond to situations or contrive actions merely out of a sense of habit or intuition. We plan, play, plot, and practice what we do because of what believe about basic questions of right and wrong. Human beings are moral creatures, and moral creatures create ethical systems to guide their conduct.
But what is the source of this moral sense? Where does the human need for ethics originate?
Moral relativism
The January 9, 2011, issue of Philosophy Now magazine featured a symposium of ethicists discussing this subject. Together, they provide an overview of current thinking about the ethics of moral relativism. Moral relativism is that system of ethical thought which acknowledges the human need for ethics and endorses a wide variety of approaches to ethics, deriving from one or another aspect of the human condition.
Since moral relativism, in one form or another, is perhaps the dominant ethical view of our day, it’s a good idea that Christians try to understand it and know how to respond. So I intend to devote five installments of this space to considering the various perspectives on moral relativism set forth in this symposium, and to recommend some aspects of a Christian response to the crisis of ethics in which humanity is presently ensnared.
Nurture more than nature
Dr. Jesse Prinz, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the City University of New York, led off the discussion. He insisted that morality is conditioned by the culture in which we are nurtured, as that culture shapes our emotions to respond one way or another (“Morality is a Culturally Conditioned Response”). Nurture, in other words, is more important than nature in shaping the ways we think and act.
Because of this, and because cultures are so different, Dr. Prinz explained that all morals are relative. Who is to say that one culture’s morals should be preferred over those of any other culture, except, perhaps, within that particular culture and society? Dr. Prinz concluded that, at a certain level, conflicting moral beliefs can be true because of the “different moral worldviews” existing from culture to culture.
Dr. Prinz writes, “With morals, unlike science, there is no well-recognized standard that can be used to test, confirm, or correct when disagreements arise.” This is a crucial point for all moral relativists. He’s undoubtedly correct about that, that there is no “well-recognized” standard – at least, not currently on the moral radar screen of most ethicists or even most people.
But does that mean that no such standard exists? Until the discovery – or rather, rediscovery – of the Rosetta Stone, archaeologists had pretty much concluded that there was no way of interpreting Egyptian hieroglyphics. All that, as we know, changed very suddenly.
Dr. Prinz points to the role of emotions in moral formation, in particular, the use of negative emotions to shape our sense of right and wrong. If something we do causes us to feel guilt or shame, we learn that this is an action to avoid. When what others do causes us anger or disgust, we learn not to do that ourselves. Thus, “we decide something is wrong by instrospecting our feelings.”
As our cultural environment affirms certain kinds of actions and discourages others, we learn what to feel good about doing and what not to feel good about doing. In the process, an emotional foundation for morality is established that can then function to guide reasoned thinking about larger moral issues.
The role of affections
Dr. Prinz is certainly correct concerning the powerful role of emotions in shaping human life. The Christian will agree, as Jonathan Edwards explained, that affections exert a very powerful effect on our thinking and actions. The heart, as Scripture has it, plays a central role in determining the kind of people we become. Solomon wrote that all the great issues of life flow from the heart (Prov. 4:23). Thus, it is important, for moral formation and much more, that we understand the nature of affections and how they work to make us one kind of person or another.
But are affections – in particular, the affections generated within any particular culture – a given of the human condition, simply to be accepted because they are what they are? Just because people of one culture feel good enslaving people from another culture – even though those enslaved may have a different code of ethics – does that mean we must endorse such a practice, or, at least, make room for it as an acceptable behavior within the family of humankind?
But Dr. Prinz’s argument sounds at times as though he believes that whatever the existing morality may be in any culture, it must be what’s right for that culture. He can’t go quite that far, however, and is led to fall back on certain moral verities which, he assumes, everyone accepts – such as that we ought not do things which are deliberately pernicious or harmful to defenseless others.
But why we should accept these guidelines – other than simply because people do – is not explained. Scripture explains it, though, by insisting that our sense of moral oughtness is divinely inculcated. The works of God's Law are written on the hearts of all people (Rom. 2:14, 15). But this need not cause us to fear that there is no room for human freedom, or for applying divine law to particular circumstances in ways that might, at times, appear to be contradictory. For example, when the Law of God instructs that runaway slaves should not be returned, yet Paul sends Onesimus back to Philemon, is Paul violating the Law of God (Deut. 23:15, 16; Philem. 12)? The answer, of course, is “No,” but the reason why is complex and would require us to divert from our present path.
The enemy of Biblical ethics?
There is a ground for dialog with the moral relativist when it comes to debating the great moral issues of the day. Dr. Prinz wants us to consider the affections as central to moral reasoning, and this is not disagreeable to a Biblical worldview.
However, we shall want to press the good doctor a bit further concerning those non-negotiable ethical convictions which must, in the end, guide the emotions we adopt and the morality these emotions suggest.
The Scriptures and the Christian worldview can account for these non-negotiables; moral relativism, on the other hand, cannot. It simply has to hope that they exist, and that everyone can agree on what they are.
Yet a standard for all ethical thinking and living exists, a moral Rosetta Stone to help us interpret what it means to do the right thing in an situation: the Law of God. The Law of God is holy and righteous and good, and it reflects the very character and lifestyle of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 7:12; Matt. 5:17-19). The fact that this standard is not “well recognized” is the fault neither of the Law of God nor the moral relativist. It is the fault of those who are instructed to meditate in that Law day and night (Ps. 1), walk in those commandments as Jesus did (1 Jn. 2:1-6), and build communities of love for God and neighbor with that Law as their foundation (Matt. 22:34-40), but who, instead, have failed to embrace the Law as they should, and who practice, in its place, a kind of “spiritual moral relativism” in the name of sentimental love and sanctimonious “tolerance.”
We have met the enemy of biblical ethics, in other words, and we are it.
We will not be able to appreciate the contribution of moral relativists, nor to help them discover the error in their thinking, until we rediscover the power of God’s holy and righteous and good Law to train our hearts and lives for loving God and neighbor in ways that reflect the ethics of Jesus Christ.
How dangerous is moral relativism? Order your copy of our new DVD series,Doing the Right Thing, and lead a group of your friends in understanding our present crisis of ethics. You should also read the article, “‘Society Says’ Relativism,” by Greg Koukl.

 
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Sep 14, 2011

America's Economy Is Interwoven With Its Morality

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By: Christopher G. Adamo

With this week’s Republican debate having gained a major position in the media spotlight and actually a delay in Barack Obama’s over-hyped “Jobs” (read: Deficit spending and pork) speech, it is inarguable that the 2012 presidential campaign season is in full swing. And though the public is usually loath to once again face all of the pandering, self-absorption, and half-truths of modern campaigning, this election cycle is one that could not come soon enough.

As America watches in horror, its socio-economic foundation is being systematically undermined and dismantled. The very concept of a free market is being forcibly mutated into the nightmarish image of European socialism, with all of its overbearing bureaucracies, crushing deficits, and impending financial calamities. The situation must be reversed, and soon, if the nation is to have any hope of eventual restoration.

Amid such circumstances, the defeat of Barack Obama next fall would seem to be an imminent certainty. And in a sense, it may well be. It is hardly an overstatement that, even at this early date, the 2012 presidential race is already the Republicans’ to win or lose. Unfortunately, given the past track record of GOP fumbling at critical junctures, in and of itself, the current state of affairs offers no guarantee that the Republicans might not obliterate their own chances through ineptitude, cowardice, and a general inconsistency of guiding principle.

To that end, an ongoing movement is once again underway that could ultimately deliver a liberal triumph where the best efforts of Obama, Reid, Pelosi, and the whole liberal Democrat cabal would most certainly fail. That this movement emanates from the innermost circles of the Republican National Committee is, without a doubt, the most abominable aspect of the entire situation. Since it is merely the same old “strategy” of centrism with a little new window dressing, conservatives should be easily able to recognize it and reject it outright. Yet it is not enough to merely be wary of it. The temptation to succumb to it on the basis that it might somehow enhance the possibility of defeating Obama is more seductive now than ever before. And that is the primary reason to shine the light of truth on it whenever the political “experts” attempt to extol it in its latest incarnation.

Once again, the two major factions comprising this Trojan Elephant are the squishy “moderates” who allow their positions on the issues to be defined by wherever they are convinced the “safe” center can be found, along with the RINO Republicans who secretly venerate the liberal agenda but believe they can do more to advance it by claiming the GOP mantle. The single mote of “common ground” shared by these to groups is their abhorrence for true conservatism.

In the past, the key issues they sought to expunge from the Republican philosophy were the right to life for the unborn and the radical homosexual agenda, particularly same-sex “marriage.” Despite the profound motivating and rallying effect that these issues have on grassroots Americans, and all of the ongoing proof that they constitute a net positive at the ballot box, “experts” from inside the Beltway incessantly assure us that their political ramifications are incontrovertibly harmful.

So, once again, in an election season in which such matters can serve to sharply define the contrast between the morally bankrupt left and the traditional morality of the right, conservative America is being told to abandon them until some mythical “later date” when it will suddenly and inexplicably become expedient to address them.

Yet the picture gets worse still. Along with these items, the whole subject of illegal immigration is similarly being shuffled off to the sidelines. So fearful are the “establishment Republicans” of confronting anything deemed “controversial” that they are willing to find reason to sit the fence on this issue as well. Apparently, outside of the admittedly abysmal economic straits in which the nation currently finds itself, the whole gamut of topics that have historically divided the right from the left are now to be tabled until sometime after 2012.

The underlying theory is this: If a majority of Americans can agree to the premise that the economy is in dire straits and pull the appropriate levers at the ballot box on that basis alone, then the nation’s governance will surely shift decidedly right as a result, and those problems will certainly be addressed in a worthy manner at that point. But, once again, history and reality must be ignored in order for this fanciful construction of the upcoming election cycle to bear any pretext of credibility.

First of all, the economic condition of this nation is, and always has been, a direct result of the morals and ethics undergirding it. When the nation aspired to goodness and greatness, its economic engine hummed. The recent downturn can be tied directly to the abandonment of those principles and their substitution by the twisted precepts of Marxism, the grim reality behind the euphemism of “social justice,” and the whole concept of government confiscating and redistributing private property.

From the very beginning American government, even with all of its flaws, was specifically empowered to protect and secure the “life, liberty, and property” of the individual who, on his own, was otherwise powerless to do so. But the perverse notion eventually became acceptable that government could arbitrarily abdicate its role in protecting human “life” among the helpless, as was the true implication of “Roe vs. Wade.” Should anybody then be surprised that respect for individual liberty and private property could just as easily be trivialized and trampled in its wake?

More significantly, those candidates who would abandon any public discourse on these defining moral and social issues, even under the auspices of sound and necessary political strategy, are telegraphing their willingness to cut and run from controversy in general. At a time when the nation needs leaders who will recognize and honestly assess the nation’s looming problems and, more importantly, brave the inevitable firestorm of liberal opposition in order to effectively deal with those problems, retreating to the contrived security of the politically “safe” ground will only ensure that nothing of importance ever gets fixed. And that is a possibility that the nation can no longer afford.

It is true that no conservative candidate can or should construct an entire campaign on any single issue, even including abortion, traditional marriage, or restoring the integrity of the nation’s borders. But the candidate who claims that the country can be restored in its greatness without properly contending with these issues, or who seeks to find a short cut towards doing so while quietly ignoring them, is someone who is neither intellectually honest nor sufficiently ethically grounded to be trusted with the reins of leadership in this dangerous time.


Growing up during the turbulent decades of the ‘60's and ‘70's, Christopher Adamo saw, to his dismay, the nation's moral foundations being destroyed before his very eyes. But even then he was a staunch Conservative at heart, and rejected outright the tenets of America's counterculture revolution.

After a hitch in the Air Force, where he specialized in airborne electro- optical systems, he pursued a career in the field of aerospace, working for major defense contractors in California, Florida, and Colorado. But his career plans abruptly changed during the industry-wide downsizing that followed the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Presently he is working in the field of industrial instrumentation in the state of Wyoming. Concurrently, he has become involved in that state's political process, attending state GOP conventions as a delegate, and serving as a member of the Wyoming Republican Central Committee. He has also aided in the candidacies of local legislators and state senators, as well as a U.S. Senator and Congresswoman.

From 1993 to 1996, he edited and wrote for “The Wyoming Christian”, the state newsletter for Christian Coalition of Wyoming. During that period, he developed an acute awareness of the harm being done to Conservatism by liberal activists within the Republican Party as well as the Democrats. This remains a favorite theme of his articles, which now appear as a regular feature on GOPUSA.

 
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Sep 9, 2011

Neuroscience and the Power of Speech

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 By Robin Phillips | Published Date: September 05, 2011


"Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles." Proverbs 21:23 (NKJV)


The power of speech
Scripture often refers to the tongue or lips as the gateway to the heart. Proverbs 21:23 tells us that “Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.” Similarly, Jesus said that it was out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) while James compares the tongue to a rudder on a ship, capable of defiling the whole body (James 3:3-6).
These verses seem to suggest that speech has an important function in defining who we are. The words that come out of our mouth are formative in determining the spiritual health of our very heart and soul.
Recent discoveries in neuroscience and cognitive psychology support the Bible’s teaching on this subject. Scientists are only just beginning to appreciate the incredible power that speech has in forming both our self-identity and our perception of the world. These discoveries underscore the premium the Biblical writers place on responsible speaking.
Speech and thought
What scientists are finding is that speech does not merely proceed from our thoughts like a one-way street. There is also traffic flowing in the other direction: how we speak effects how we think about the world on a level that our conscious minds may never even be aware.
In a fascinating Wall Street Journal article last year, Lera Boroditsky wrote that “the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express”. Boroditsky gave some examples to illustrate this point. One of the examples showed how the different ways of conjugating verbs effected how people perceived situations:
“For example, English likes to describe events in terms of agents doing things. English speakers tend to say things like ‘John broke the vase’ even for accidents. Speakers of Spanish or Japanese would be more likely to say ‘the vase broke itself.’ Such differences between languages have profound consequences for how their speakers understand events, construct notions of causality and agency, what they remember as eyewitnesses and how much they blame and punish others.
In studies conducted by Caitlin Fausey at Stanford, speakers of English, Spanish and Japanese watched videos of two people popping balloons, breaking eggs and spilling drinks either intentionally or accidentally. Later everyone got a surprise memory test: For each event, can you remember who did it? She discovered a striking cross-linguistic difference in eyewitness memory. Spanish and Japanese speakers did not remember the agents of accidental events as well as did English speakers. Mind you, they remembered the agents of intentional events (for which their language would mention the agent) just fine. But for accidental events, when one wouldn't normally mention the agent in Spanish or Japanese, they didn't encode or remember the agent as well.”
The point of this (and many similar experiments) is that, to quote again from Boroditsky: “if you change how people talk, that changes how they think...”
The history of communication technology points to this same conclusion. In his book The Shallows, Nicholas Carr gave a fascinating bird’s eye view of the entire history of human communication technologies beginning with clay tablets and finishing with the Internet. Carr shows that each of the different tools for communicating alters not only what we say and how we say it, but how we think about the world on a precognitive level. Carr draws on recent discoveries about the brain’s malleability to show that our view of the world is conditioned largely by the tools we use to communicate, and this includes language itself.
Other authors have also testified to this same point. For example, in his book The Brain that Changes Itself, Norman Doidge shows that the way we speak affects the actual neurocircuitry in our brains. Or again, in his bestseller Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcom Gladwell explores how the way we speak from infancy has an effect on how we view the world and even how well we can compute numbers (clickhere to read an extract of Gladwell’s fascinating discussion). Or, to quote James Davison Hunter from his book To Change the World, “Language, the most basic system of symbols, provides the primary medium through which people apprehend their conscious experience in the world.”
While this is all the rage in neuroscience at the moment, Christians shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the Bible has always emphasized the formative power of speech.
If it is true that little things like verb conjugations and communication tools can exercise a subliminal effect on how we perceive the world and other people, this is even more the case when dealing with language loaded with moral and spiritual implications. Think of the different views of humanity subtly implicated by describing a baby as a “fetus” vs. calling it “a human being created in the image of God.” Or even consider the implication of calling a baby an “it”, as I just did in the last sentence. While these alternative ways of talking about a baby may be equally true on a purely factual level, they convey an entirely different sense. Or again, in an article I wrote for my blog last April titled “A Festival Not a Machine”, I compared the differences between the medieval way of talking about the universe and the modern way. (Medieval man tended to speak about the cosmos as a great dance, a festival teeming with anthropocentric life. By contrast, after the scientific revolution, the universe began to be described as a cold impersonal machine.)
My point is simply this: language doesn’t just describe what we think about the world, it is also a lens by which understand and interpret the world around us and the events which occur.
Speech and worldview
Again, this should come as no surprise to Christians. The Genesis creation account seems to specifically link naming with dominion-taking. We also see throughout the Biblical narrative that when God wants to set a person, city or place aside for a special task, He will often call that person or place by a new name. How we speak about something changes how we view it.
This behooves us to think carefully about how we speak. In Psalm 39 we read about how David wrestled with guarding his tongue. When in great distress, he muzzled his mouth so that he would not sin, and only after “musing” (careful reflection) did he dare open his mouth and speak what was in his heart. That remains a great example to us. We all know from personal experience that our words have the power not only to build others up but to tear them down; they can comfort, heal and soothe, but they can also discourage, damage and hurt.
Do you glorify God in how you speak? Have you taken seriously the way language alters the way we view ourselves and the world?
For more insight into this topic, buy Language Acquisition and Conceptual Development, edited by Melissa Bowerman and Stephen Levinson. Also read my articles "A Festival Not a Machine" and "Reading Scripture in the Age of Google."
For more insight to the importance of good discipline, get the book,The Spirit of the Disciplines,by Dallas Willard, from our online store. Or read the article, “Repertoires of Discipleship,” by T. M. Moore.

 
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Sep 8, 2011

Every Thought, Every Word

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Only the truth can set us free.
By T.M. Moore | Published Date: September 05, 2011


He accepted neither indifference nor heresy.
Dallán Forgaill, Amra Choluimb Chille (Irish, 7th century)
We destroy arguments and every loft opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ... 2 Corinthians 10:5
Zealous for truth
Colum Cille, the great 6th century Irish missionary/scholar, was known by all to be zealous for truth. By some accounts, it was his love for the Gospel that got him exiled from Ireland. As an aspiring monk he made a copy of a gospel book and refused to give it up when he was discovered. The local magistrate got involved, and Colum was required to forfeit his treasure (since it was not lawful for monks-in-training to own property). The subsequent melee which Colum initiated left him humiliated and disciplined – sent packing from Ireland.
He sailed to Iona and climbed the highest hill to make sure he could no longer see Ireland. Then he wept. But then he got busy. He studied the Word of God exhaustively. He learned the great works of His Christian forebears. He mastered the Law of God. He became the greatest missionary trainer of his generation.
But he was not zealous merely to know the truth. He lived it, and he taught it, and he caused everyone who came into his presence to deal with the truth, for many of them, as they’d never had to before. In Colum’s company no one was allowed either to misrepresent the truth or to ignore it, as Dallán makes clear in his lamentation.
Colum would not abide heresy. He would challenge it, expose its falsehoods, and assert the truth of God against it. Neither could he abide indifference – not when truth could be known. He made people make up their minds about the truth. In Column’s presence, amid a discussion of just about anything, one could not simply plead, “No opinion.” He made you think. He led you to reason. He insisted that people confront and respond to the truth.
Colum was a very serious Christian. He understood that only the truth can set us free, and he worked in all his ministry to ensure that those in his charge dealt with the truth, understood the truth, taught and proclaimed the truth, and lived in the truth every day of their lives.
And us?
What about us? Are we serious about the truth? Or do we simply stand by as people rattle off the most ridiculous, absurd, or inane positions about this, that, or the other? The Word of God speaks to every area of human life and interest. Nothing can come up in any conversation concerning which God does not have a Word of truth to offer.
And He has commissioned us to set forth His truth in every situation.
The extent to which our society is awash in lies, deceit, and half-truths is becoming clearer each day. Where are the bearers of truth in this thicket of lies? Who will challenge the heresies – every false worldview – and who will confront the indifferent, so that they at least have the opportunity to hear the truth? Who, like Colum, will cherish the truth so much that he is willing to risk his personal wellbeing to own and establish it?
This is our calling, friends, just as it was Colum Cille’s. The people to whom God sends us each day need to hear His truth. If we’re serious about the truth, we will press it upon them with grace, but also with urgency.
Only the truth can set people free from sin and the Lie. Christ would have all men be taken captive by His grace, for His truth, and unto His glory. And He has sent us, as He was sent, and as He commissioned Colum Cille, to pursue this mission day by day.
You and I bear God’s truth in earthen vessels. But, earthen vessels though we be, let us bear and distribute the truth with confidence, challenging the heretic and the indifferent alike, to consider the truth that is in Jesus.
Because only the truth can set us free.
Join the conversation as Chuck Colson and Gabe Lyons discuss the truth that is in Jesus in The Faith DVD. You can also purchase student guides for group discussion. You should also read the article, “Truth in Love,” by T. M. Moore.



 
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Sep 6, 2011

Idealease, Inc. blasted for involvment in abortion holocaust

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National Truck Leasing Company Remains Medical Waste Giant's Top Enabler in the War on the Preborn 



PHILADELPHIA - Campaign to Stop Stericycle (CSS) is blasting the nationally-known truck leasing company Idealease, Inc. for being the top supplier of trucks to the nation's leading medical waste company, Stericycle, which is also the premier "waste" service to the abortion industry. CSS urges a national outcry to Idealease to exhort the company to cease facilitating Stericycle's widespread involvement in the abortion holocaust.

According to their website, Idealease, Inc. is "one of North America's largest full service transportation companies," and maintains over 400 affiliate locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The company leases its trucks to thousands of businesses each year, including the medical waste giant Stericycle. Stericycle then utilizes the vehicles to service its waste collection routes, which include innumerable abortion facilities nationwide. During these service stops, not only does Stericycle collect the tools used in abortions, but also the fetal remains of the aborted children themselves. These murdered children are then taken to Stericycle's incineration plants, where they are burned with the trash. Stericycle relies heavily on leased trucks to be able to collect "waste" from abortion facilities, including a reported 586 Planned Parenthood locations. 

Following the decision by Penske Truck Leasing Co. and Ryder System, Inc. to stop Stericycle from using their trucks to service the abortion industry, CSS is calling upon Idealease, Inc. to do the same. Futhermore, due to the loss of Ryder, it is likely that Stericycle will approach Idealease to obtain additional lease agreements in its place. However, while Stericycle currently maintains a national contract with the multi-million dollar truck leasing company, its affiliate locations within the franchise have the ultimate say on what lease agreements they will sign. Therefore, CSS is urging citizens to contact their local Idealease office as well as the corporate office and encourage them to not sign any contracts with Stericycle that involve servicing abortion facilities.    

"It is sick beyond words that while thousands of children a day are being ripped apart in their mother's womb in the name of 'choice,' companies like Stericycle and Idealease are callously continuing to profit from their murder," campaign director Michael Marcavage stated. "We will not rest until Idealease stops allowing their trucks to be used by Stericycle to collect aborted children and the tools used to kill them," he continued. "We urge Idealease and its affiliates to immediately follow the lead of Penske and Ryder to avoid being subjected to national public resistance," Marcavage concluded. 

CSS will be providing information at Idealease's annual meeting of affiliates this week in Chicago to call upon the company to stop allowing Stericycle to use their trucks to service the abortion industry, and will be contacting each affiliate by email and phone. 

"And [they] shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and daughters ... and the land was polluted with blood." - Psalm 106:38

 
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