Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Friday, April 15, 2011

Moral contributions from the Bible

Has the Bible made important contributions to the development of morality? Here are three areas:

1. The Bible has been positive influence regarding the idea that everyone is equal. From an evolutionary perspective, the idea that every person is equal in a really fundamental way seems a bit hard to find. But in the Bible we read:

Acts 10:34-5: "Then Peter replied, "I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. In every nation he accepts those who fear him and do what is right."

Romans 2:11: "For God does not show favoritism."

Gal 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

The image of God is equally given to everyone (Gen 1:27).

2. Another area that the Bible has had a large positive impact on is the idea that doing unto others involves really caring about people who are hostile towards oneself and forgiving people who don't deserve forgiveness (although I note that not everyone would agree with these values). Normally when we think of 'doing unto others' we include in that the idea that we should be able to get revenge on people who wrong us, an instinct that comes easily. But Jesus says that really 'doing unto others' involves loving your enemies, praying for people who persecute you, and forgiving those who wrong you (Matt 5:44, Matt 6:15, Luke 10:27). Also, God has given us an example of forgiveness to follow (Matt 18:33) and that is that God tries to forgive everyone, using the only way possible (Matt 26:39), even though we have not earned God's forgiveness and weren't 'owed' Jesus' sacrifice. This is a surprising moral insight or argument from the Bible.

3. Another interesting moral concept from the Bible relates to a way of distributing social status in a community that accepts, loves, and honours every single person there. If people follow it carefully, it completely sidesteps certain unhappy problems with social status and people seeking social status. Jesus says that the greatest person in a community should be the greatest person because they serve everyone else. While the person who is least should be the person who is least because they are served by everyone else (Matt 20:26-8). It's an ingenious system for keeping pride in check and making sure every member of the community is honoured, that a lot of people wouldn't have thought of without the Bible.

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