Are the Morals of the Bible Culturally Regressive?

Pastor J.D. discusses how this view might be a reflection of our time and place as well as the Bible’s role throughout history.

A glimpse inside this episode:

Feeling the morals are regressive may be a reflection of our particular time and place.

  • I mean, we shouldn’t be surprised that the Bible offends our culture. We should be concerned if they don’t.
    • The Bible has offended every culture, just not always in the same way.
      • E.g. Muslim cultures and the teaching on forgiveness
      • An “Equal Opportunity Offender”
      • Wouldn’t you expect, if the Bible is the Word of God, that it wouldn’t offend us? 
      • Wouldn’t you be more suspect if it just affirmed everything we already believed?
    • Do we really think we’re so advanced that we’ve gotten everything right? 
      • Think about how you look at people 100 years ago. We say, ‘I can’t believe grandma and grandpa actually believed that?”
      • 100 years from now they are going to look back on us and say, “Wow, they were advanced!”? 
    • The standard: “If I feel a sincere impulse inside of me, it has to be right,” cannot  be correct.  
      • Change the setting—now you have a guy in his early 20’s walking down the street of a Viking town in the 11th century who feels like his honor has been insulted and thinks, “I can’t be happy until I have avenged myself and my family name and that can only happen by killing the one who offended me.” We would say, “That is bad.” 
      • On what basis? It’s because it violates a higher law.
      • Just because it’s in your heart doesn’t mean it is right. We need an external standard.
  • The Bible has been behind the greatest moral revolutions in the world
    • End of slavery—The best work on slavery is by an African-American scholar named Thomas Sowell. He points out slavery was universal. The terrible European slave trade trafficked 11 million Africans; but twice that many were bought and sold on the Arabian Peninsula during that same time period. Furthermore, he says, almost every slave he says sold in the European slave trade were enslaved and sold to them by other Africans. So, in other words, slavery was a nearly universal problem. Yet you have an enormous amount of guilt literature coming out of the West, but none out of Arabia. 
    • And the efforts to stop slavery came from the West. Why, he asks? Slavery is universal, but what stopped slavery it in the West? His answer? Undeniably, the Great Awakening: The preaching of men like John Wesley and the reforms of Christian statesman William Wilberforce. 
    • The Civil Rights Movement in the United States was pioneered by pastors like MLK, Jr.
    • The end of apartheid in South Africa had Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the outspokenly Christian Nelson Mandela—both of whom opposed the racist practice based on the Bible’s principles.
    • Prison reform and the rights of women were led not only by Christians, but by Christians who cited Christian teaching as the inspiration for their reforms
    • The church is still the #1 provider of healthcare around the world.
    • Christian Atheists: I saw one atheist author mention that if you go anywhere in the world where the need is greatest, the people you are most likely to find there are Christians. Hitchens conceded the same thing. He said, “I don’t believe Christianity, but something in it compels people to get involved in the worst situations on the planet.”
      • I was listening to a lecture by Dr. Charles Mathewes up at UVA and he said that most atheists today who have moral objections to Christianity don’t realize they are “Christian atheists,” which means that the basis for their objections usually come from teachings that have been shaped by a Christian worldview. Friedrich Nietzsche, my favorite atheist, acknowledged that. He said: My moral objections to Christianity ultimately came from the principles I learned from Christianity. 
      • One historian notes: Atheists today aren’t like they were 1000 years ago. They are Christian atheists.
  • Understand Progressive Revelation
    • Bigger conversation, but God planted seeds instead of issuing a political manifesto
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