• Inter-Testamental Moral Relativism

    Theists hate moral relativism. They often accuse atheists and secularists of having it. For them, only the pseudo-moral absolutism of Divine Command Theory, where God’s commands decree morality, seems to work in defining some sort of objective morality.

    The problem is, though, that they aren’t very consistent. Because, it turns out, they actually adhere to something which I like to call (via Justin Schieber) Inter-Testamental Moral Relativism.

    Atheist: Hey there, Christian, what’re ya doing eating that there shellfish, whilst wearing mixed cloth? Haven’t you taken on board the 613 odd rules from Leviticus?

    Christian: Chuh, that’s so naive. Haven’t you heard of the New Testament? A testament is a covenant, an agreement with God. With Jesus, the Old Testament, as an agreement, was superseded by the new one. The old rules have been superseded by the new ones.

    Atheist: Really? Wow. Who knew. So Jesus was lying when he said “every jot and title of the Law” would be fulfilled in and by him?

    Christian: Well…

    Atheist: Oh, and that means that what you did believe was good and right immediately became bad or not good and right when, what? When Jesus came to pass away, to die? When the book was released? When it was written? When exactly? Because I remember it mentioning someone getting killed for picking up sticks on a Sabbath. Shall we go and kill all those working in the supermarkets today? Doesn’t your Mum work in ASDA today? Why doesn’t God strike her down? Or what was a sin in that cultural milieu is no longer a sin? I get it! To me, it looks like what was good and right as a moral truth worked for one set of people in a geographical and historical location, but not for another. The second set of geographical and historically contextualised people (yourself included) appear to have a different set of rights and wrongs. Who’s to say that yours won’t be superseded? This looks like, ya know, moral relativism.

    Christian: Um. Yeah, but God said it. Apparently. Or something.

    Category: Biblical ExegesisFeaturedMoralityPhilosophy of ReligionTheology


    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce