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If Salvation is by Grace and Not by Works

salvation by works

I recently wrote a post about Evangelical outrage over Montel Williams suggesting that the heart of Christianity is good works. Countless Evangelicals schooled Williams about salvation, reminding him that good works play no part in salvation. According to these Evangelicals, salvation is by grace — God bestowing his unmerited favor upon sinners. Are these Evangelicals right? It depends on which Bible verses you read. For example, Ephesians 2:8,9 says: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast. Seems to the settle the question right? Salvation is by “grace through faith and not by works.” However in the very next verse the Bible says: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. This verse seems quite clear, well as clear as any Bible verse can be; that those whom God saves are ordained (chosen) by God to have lives that demonstrate good works. There are numerous ways one can argue this issue, but anyone with even a modicum of understanding about the New Testament certainly knows that the Bible makes a clear connection between salvation and good works. People who claim to be Christians yet live in ways contrary to the teachings of the Bible are, at best, Christian in name only. The Jesus who said Follow me surely expects his followers to believe and obey the teachings of the Bible. After all, according to Evangelicals, the Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible word. It’s God’s blueprint for life, a sure road map for the journey between birth and eternity. Why then, all the Evangelical outrage over Williams’ comment?

A large number of Evangelicals believe that salvation is some sort of  magic pill or eternal fire insurance. At some point in their lives they have had some sort of “experience” with God and now they are Christians. For these Evangelicals, all that matters is believing the right things. And in recent years, believing the right things has come to mean having the right political beliefs. Williams’ comment was in response to Evangelical outrage over transgendered people using the wrong bathroom. Williams rightly pointed out that Evangelical hatred and bigotry towards transgenders was un-Christian. How dare Williams suggest hateful, bigoted Evangelicals aren’t being very Christian! These Evangelicals can recite John 3:16 and parrot “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation,” and that is all that matters. They might believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, but fuck those perverts who want to use what Evangelicals consider the wrong bathroom.

These Evangelicals are being quite hypocritical, are they not? If salvation is NOT by good works, how dare they expect or demand people to live by the teachings of the Bible? Aren’t these the same Evangelicals who oppose homosexuality, same-sex marriage, premarital sex, or any other form of sexual expression except a monogamous married heterosexual couple having sex via the missionary position, yet commit the very sexual sins they condemn?  And aren’t these the very same people who make all sorts of moral demands that they themselves are unable to keep? Why should any of us — transgenders included  — follow ANY of the teachings of the Bible? If Evangelicals can’t practice what they preach, aren’t they being hypocritical? Of course they are.

These Evangelicals (and I say these because some Evangelicals do think good works are essential to Christian faith) are the worst that Christianity has to offer. They demand that everyone submit to their religion’s teachings, yet they are ignorant of those very teachings. They expect everyone to obey their interpretations of the Bible, yet they exempt themselves from doing the same. When questioned about the disconnect between what they say they believe and how their live their lives, these Evangelicals remind their critics that they are works in progress or that they are resting on the promises of God. These Evangelicals are ignorant of much of what the Apostle Paul had to say about behavior, choosing to focus on God’s super-duper grace-filled plan for their lives — grace that Dietrich Bonhoeffer called cheap. All that matters to them is where they will spend eternity when they die — heaven. Well that and making sure that there are no transgenders using the wrong bathroom.

You see, these Evangelicals actually DO believe in salvation by works. Every Evangelical has internalized some sort of moral code by which they, in theory, govern their lives. They think that this moral code comes straight from the mouth of God. And if it comes from God, shouldn’t everyone behave the same way? These Evangelicals, despite what they told Montel Williams, believe that there ARE certain behaviors that preclude people from being Christians. Will there be any LGBT people in heaven? Not according to these Evangelicals. In fact, their list of people who will not be in heaven is quite long. These Evangelicals speak out of both sides of their mouth, decrying anyone who says salvation is by works, yet at the same time saying that there are certain behaviors that will land people in hell (and most of these behaviors are sexual in nature). Quite frankly, if THESE Evangelicals will be in heaven, I am quite happy to spend eternity in hell with  Mother Theresa, Gandhi, Prince, homosexuals, Christopher Hitchens, transgenders, same-sex couples, liberals, abortionists, and Barack Obama. According to these Evangelicals, Dennis Hastert and countless other Christian perverts get a free pass because they told God, sorry, and promised to never, ever sexually molest children again. Yet, when Catholic priests diddle young boys and later ask God’s forgiveness, they still go to hell when they die. Why? Because Catholics worship the wrong Christian God. And around and around the Evangelical merry-go-round goes.




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    Well said, Bruce. I got into a squabble a few weeks ago with a friend on Facebook. This “friend” was unable to counter my points on transgender rights, so instead proceeded to condemn me to hell because my political views are no longer Jesus-y enough. I thought “why would anyone ever want to spend an eternity with people like you?”

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    Bill Chamberlain

    Bruce this is the finest column I have ever read of yours. I could say a lot but why, you have said it exactly. In leaving I sure hope you are getting relief from your bad health.

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    Becky Wiren

    In our church, there was an argument about whether one was saved by grace and/or works. At the time, my husband and me believed that we were saved wholly by God’s grace. HOWEVER, the grace that saved us produced good works also. Sadly, those good works revolved around stuff that wasn’t truly important, like loving our neighbor. I do remember being pretty hateful in one area, lacking empathy when AIDS struck the gay community. Makes me sick that I was like that. Especially since we have LGBTQ family.

    Fortunately, as we grew away from the church, we were able to see more clearly. I finally remember choosing LOVE over what I believed the Bible taught about the gay community. Our family members were such a wonderful example. Their love for each other pretty much did it. It came down to: do I believe this stricture in this book, or the example of love in front of my eyes. (I do know there are all kinds of arguments about the true meanings of the clobber verses, but I didn’t know then.) I choose love over the Bible. In retrospect, that pushed me along my journey out of Christianity.

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    link removed

    If we’d like to discuss some “moral code” (as mentioned in the last paragraph), do atheists deny that there is a universal moral code known to adults?

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        So there is no universally objective moral code, presumably because there is no universally objective moral code-giver? Morality is subjective, universally?

        Link deleted

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          I didn’t need your link to know the difference between subjective and objective, but I’d say that absolutely there is no such thing as objective morality. The reality is that neither do fully subscribed members of the Jesus adoration club.

          Where does morality come from? It’s something we’ve learned and refined over the course of human existence, and is properly explainable by the benefits it confers; if you don’t try and kill me then I won’t kill you, and so on. The problem is that if you try to claim some form of objective morality then you lose the ability to make considered decisions. I am unable to think of a single objectively moral rule that even devout Christians would always agree; for example, you certainly can’t believe that killing is always wrong and support the death penalty. The ‘trolley’ scenario is probably as good a way of understanding the futility of believing in objective morality.

          Ultimately the position is best summarised by the following

          Morality is doing what’s right regardless of what you’re told
          Religion is doing what you’re told regardless of what’s right.

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            Bruce’s last few sentences of the post seem to indicate that sexually molesting minors is universally and objectively immoral.

            Maybe we can start with that example and extrapolate why that might be wrong. (Perhaps this is a point where atheists and Christians can agree?)

            If there is no objective morality how can anything be declared “right” or “wrong”?

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    “If there is no objective morality how can anything be declared right or wrong”

    For one thing, morality isn’t ever ‘declared’. The point is that it has evolved over time, a lot of time, until it reaches the point where it’s so innate that people, apparently such as yourself, query how it got there. I don’t understand why the issue might be considered confusing.

    I’d also defy you to give me an example of objective morality.

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    Apparently it’s inappropriate to define subjective and objective.Silly me, I thought it was helpful to the conversation.

    Are you suggesting that “not molesting minors” is the product of “millions of years of ‘evolution'” & not an objective morality that would have held 10,000 years ago? (Or at some other arbitrary timeframe?)

    I defy you to defy something as simple as the statement ” It is morally ‘right’ to declare sexual molestation of children ‘wrong’!”

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      Bruce Gerencser

      The readers of this blog do not need to be educated by you. You can safely assume that all of us made it out out high school and know what the words subjective and objective mean.

      Not Geoff here, but, first you must define molest.

      Second, you must define minor.

      Third, what verse in the Bible — which I assume is your objective standard of morality — says that is wrong to molest children?

      Fourth, if the Christian God is moral and he has established objective morality, then this God should be held to the same moral standard, yes?

      Fifth, I don’t know of one Christian whose morality is objective. I have met thousands of Christians over the years, and not one of them have an objective moral standard. They THOUGHT they did, but when pressed it became clear that their morality was subjective just like that of every other person.

      Sixth, nation states, people groups, cultures, tribes,families, and individuals all determine for themselves what is moral. This morality varies throughout history. I think you would agree that a 25 year old man marrying a 13 year old girl is not moral. In fact, we have laws that prohibit such things. Yet, in some countries — and in our own several centuries ago — it is not uncommon to hear of grown men marrying young girls.

      Seventh, do you distinguish between moral and legal (law)?

      I’ll leave the discussion to Geoff.


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        Well said Bruce, as ever much better put than I am able.

        I really have nothing to add, other than to endorse your points, especially why we don’t molest minors. There are so many considerations including, as you say, the age that we, as a society, arbitrarily determine the age of minority, that to regard it as in any way an objective constraint is, to my mind, almost delusional.

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        Answer: Preview / 1st/ 2nd

        Having deleted the link to the definition of subjective and objective, then being told that the readers of this blog do not need to be educated by me, I’m being told that I must define the terms “molest” and “minor”. Admittedly, being told that I should assume a certain level of education amongst the readers while being scolded for defining terms, then being asked to define terms is a superb rhetorical device, but I’ll simply quote the post. Instead of “minor” the author uses the term “children”, sorry for straying:

        “According to these Evangelicals, Dennis Hastert and countless other Christian perverts get a free pass because they told God, sorry, and promised to never, ever sexually molest children again. Yet, when Catholic priests diddle young boys and later ask God’s forgiveness …”

        The point of language, as we learned when we all “made it out out high school”, is to be able to exchange ideas and converse about them. (Which is another interesting topic to debate between evolutionists and creationists: How did language come to be?…but we’ll leave that aside.) While it’s an unwise tactic to allow someone else to define the terms, if clarity is needed on “molest” and “children”, I’ll cede these two terms.

        3rd (Reserving the right to revise and extend my remarks) Ephesians 6:4 would seem to stand out, James 1:27 gives a principle, Matthew 18 helps explain the high value of children. Proverbs is riddled with references to help the weak/poor/needy (which, I assume, includes children).

        4th No, the Creator commands the creation and defines the construct we call “morality”. It’s jumping the shark a bit to discuss this, leaving objective morality, but in order to respect the readers and the author, I do not wish to duck the question, nor get into the weeds of a side discussion.

        5th Your experience regarding meeting people is subjective. As such, we can discuss why your preferences may be more preferable than another persons, but if we lack an objective moral law, that’s all we’re doing. There’s simply nothing transcendent or meaningful about a person’s preferences. See the next answer…

        6th You’re making a case for subjective morality based on culture’s preferences at a time in history. To turn it back to your quote about “molest(ing) children”, why should someone find your preference important enough to take away a person’s freedom by locking him/her in jail? Why do you find Hastert and others acts so heinous that you label them “perverts”? How would you argue against Mr. Hastert apart from “majority rule”…a concept that would seemingly undo pro-LGBT / pro-abortion rulings?

        If every society can determine it’s own morality, why is there a universal morality that murder, theft, purgury (aka lying), etc are considered improper / bad while justice, charity, love, equality, etc are considered proper/good? How can we use force / revoke Rights from people who do bad, if all we have are preferences? Rhetorical question: Are governments simply derived from raw power?

        7th Yes. Not everything that is legal (in USA or your municipality) is moral (ex. progressive income tax) and not everything that is moral is legal (ex. teaching the Bible in public schools).

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      Michael Mock

      I’m just going to confuse the issue by pointing out that “Subjective” and “Objective” morality are not the only options. I find that if we’re going to start discussing where morality comes from, we should start with basic concepts like “empathy” and “fairness”… and where we go from there is neither objective, nor entirely subjective. It comes from people interacting with other people. It is learned; it can be trained. Welcome to the world of Intersubjectivity.

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    presumably you believe the bible is the inerrant word of god, and contains objective morality. (we’ve seen your type before, and that’s always the way it appears to be, but perhaps you’re different.)

    the bible says that adultery should be punished by stoning; that a man that rapes a virgin must pay the father some silver and marry her; that if you beat your slave and he doesn’t die in the next 2 days, then you’re ok, but that if you beat him so hard that he dies sooner, then you’re wrong; that god commanded the slaughter of the men adult women and male children, but that the virgin female children should be kept as slaves; shellfish are an abomination. and there’s more too.

    are you saying that these are all the correct morality? is this your standard of morality? can you say with a clear conscience that it makes sense to you and you truly believe that?

    if you argue that god sometimes commands things that are too complex for our human minds to understand the morality of it, then we can’t follow our own intuition because might command otherwise. and since there are numerous examples of people claiming to get commands from god which are false, (ie, from your point of view, every religion except for christianity, eg mohammed and islam, and probably many within christianity too), then how can i tell what “objective morality is”? maybe this is one of the times that god is commanding something other than the usual morality for god’s own mysterious reasons? “thou shalt no kill, unless god tells you otherwise.”

    also, why are we not following all these moral rules today? are you in favor of following those rules for morality today? should we bring back slavery?

    or is the bible inerrant, but church leaders just misinterpreted it? if so, how do we know that they’ve got the right interpretation now? if they were wrong before in allowing slavery, then that means that de facto, allowing slavery was “subjective”. on the other hand, if slavery is fine with god, that means that today we are following subjective morality instead of the objective morality of the past.

    slavery offends my sense of justice and morality. if you’re claiming that god allows slavery, then that means that my own inner conscience is not a reliable guide to morality. furthermore, if other people claim god told them slavery either is or is not “objective morality”, how can i tell whether god truly spoke to them or whether they are lying for their own ends? or perhaps they’re simply mistaken?

    so thinking that you’ve got some sort of “objective” morality in the bible doesn’t hold up very well. a much simpler model is, people and societies make it up as they go along, and claim god supports it. at different times and in different places, they come up with different answer, yet still claim that god said it. they’re either wrong or lying — it’s a human creation.

    so all your semantic mud wrestling doesn’t get very far down the path of recognizing the inherent problems with your own views. you may think you’re clever, but the readers on bruce’s blog have been down the “objective morality” path on this argument multiple times with a dozen or so others, and they all seem to dance around the problems with the biblical morality, and try to trick us into some definitional game. sorry, been there, done that, not convinced.

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      Slavery Card! ( That didn’t take long. )

      “slavery offends my sense of justice and morality. if you’re claiming that god allows slavery, then that means that my own inner conscience is not a reliable guide to morality. furthermore, if other people claim god told them slavery either is or is not “objective morality”, how can i tell whether god truly spoke to them or whether they are lying for their own ends? or perhaps they’re simply mistaken?

      so thinking that you’ve got some sort of “objective” morality in the bible doesn’t hold up very well. a much simpler model is, people and societies make it up as they go along, and claim god supports it. at different times and in different places, they come up with different answer, yet still claim that god said it. they’re either wrong or lying — it’s a human creation.”

      From what do you derive your “sense of justice and morality”? I agree that your own inner conscience is not a reliable guide to morality. That’s the point of my argument, that our own subjective/personal morality is insufficient when deciding who is punished / jailed ( a socially acceptable form of slavery ) and who goes free.

      If we’re going to advocate for a “majority rule” type of morality, why would it be wrong for the State of Ohio, for instance, to legalize slavery, while the State of Montana says it’s illegal, as an example? Why would advocacy be important, unless in large numbers? Why would Rosa Parks or MLK be revered people in history, as they represented a minority? Individual rights, and their moral underpinnings vanish.

      Without a transcendent universal morality, we’re all just arguing about our societal preferences. Consider that idea, when discussing slavery.

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        Let’s try this from another angle.
        sgl…Slavery is a great example! If those people at that time found slavery appropriate, and morality is nothing more than a societal agreement, how can it offend your sense of justice and morality? They said it was right, and since that’s all there is, how can they have been wrong back then? Why would it not be right today if everyone agreed on it?

        Of course you understand that racially based slavery is inappropriate because you’re referencing a universal morality that says it’s wrong, no matter time or place, or your opinion, objectively. The question is “Where did that come from?” (Spoiler: Christian philosophical foundation of the nation)

        Perhaps more important is to realize that this is not unidirectional. That today’s society may be appropriate on one issue, say slavery, and inappropriate on another, say progressive taxation (to avoid hot topics). Today’s society is not infallible, according to the universal objective morality that you’re referencing.

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          Bruce Gerencser

          You keep speaking of an objective, transcendent morality, yet you haven’t proven such a morality exists. Where can I find this morality? Let’s cut through all the bullshit, Ron. Where can I find your objective morality and who (exactly) is the Creator you speak of? I will assume — until you answer otherwise — that the Creator is the Christian God (your version of said God) and the Bible is this God’s objective standard of morality. If this is a fair statement of your beliefs, then please stop with all the philosophical tail chasing and let’s focus on what the Bible says. After all, it’s the final, absolute authority, yes?

          Now, if you are arguing that all humans have some sort of innate morality, you are going to need to show how you know this to be true and where it comes from. This will, of course, bring us right back to the Bible.

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            Where can you find the objective, transcendent, universal morality? As in, GPS coordinates? It’s not tangible, much like love, logic, or justice, you can’t hear, see, touch, smell, or taste it. Yet, it exists.

            It has been named, and language has made it so that we can exchange information regarding it. In fact, when it suits you, it is what you appeal to in order to show hypocrisy and corruption among people you dislike. Otherwise, what do you care if people are corrupt hypocrites? You know a false teacher when you see it, don’t cha? Why do you appeal to it if it doesn’t exist?

            You can discard philosophical arguments, like where I demonstrated that the slavery argument is self-refuting, by calling it “philosophical tail-chasing”, but failing to study philosophy doesn’t leave one devoid of philosophy, it is leaves one with a very shallow, easily refuted philosophy. Does philosophy not exist, since you brought it up?

            Before you change the subject to present your favorite argument against the Bible (I answered Q3 directly with verses that you have not refuted), have you explained labeling Hastert a “pervert” (as though there’s some proper way to express one’s sexual desires)? Have you clarified your use of “molest” or “children”?

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            Bruce Gerencser

            Nice try, Ron. I asked you two direct questions. Please answer them. Having had this very same discussion more times than I can count, I have no patience for your line of argument. Such arguments are little more than a dog chasing its tale. So, time to box yourself in, Ron…

            Is this Creator you speak of the Christian God (your version of said God)?

            Is the Bible this God’s objective standard of morality?

            Yes or no will suffice and then we can go from there.

            I assume the answers are yes, yes but I don’t want to put words in your mouth.

            Here’s why I am insisting that you answer these questions. Readers of this blog have invested countless hours engaging people such as yourself in pointed, thoughtful discussion only to find out in the end that everything is reduced to theological beliefs and faith. The former can provide a basis for discussion, the later is as subjective as your so-called objective morality.

            I will await your answers.

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            …failing to see reply buttons under Bruce’s 5/13 2:10 post
            You’ve asked me many direct questions, and I’ve answered the one’s you’ve not said that you’re already assuming the answer to. You’ve taken your shot at the gotcha questions and you haven’t addressed any of my direct questions.

            As a host and a moderator of a discussion, you leave a bit to be desired. But, this is your space and if you need to win arguments by deleting links and not letting people define terms then say that they “must” define words that you introduced into the conversation, so be it.

            If you decide to end this seemingly one-way conversation and fold your tent after failing to answer my questions…ok. We can all wonder why Hastert is a “pervert” in your mind (and how he should comport himself differently).

            I’ve given answers for my claims, you seem unwilling or unable to back up your claims.

            To sgl’s 5/13 1:31 answer: Are you willing to concede that there is an objective universal morality that you’re appealing to?

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            Bruce Gerencser

            In other words, you refuse to answer the two questions I asked. No one is folding tent, Ron. I know you “think” you have some sort of unassailable argument for objective morality, You don’t, and all I am trying to do is get you to answer two questions with simple, direct yes or no answers:

            Is this Creator you speak of the Christian God (your version of said God)?

            Is the Bible this God’s objective standard of morality?

            As far as deleted links…they are not germane to the discussion.You can safely assume that everyone knows what the words objective and subjective mean. I believe the other deleted link was to a video by Doug Wilson. Wilson has nothing he could possibly add to this discussion. After all, he covered up abuse, so his “objective” morality is quite subjective.

            As far as Hastert is concerned, today, we consider his behavior immoral. There was a time when such behavior was ignored, especially given the age of his victims. As our species evolves, so does our understanding of what behaviors are moral/immoral. I will be 60 years old next year. I am old enough to remember when homosexual sex was considered immoral. Fast forward to 2016. Most Americans have no problem with homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Who are the people who still hysterically object to homosexuality and same sex marriage? Those who believe the Bible/Koran says _______________. No rational argument can be made for condemning homosexuality or same-sex marriage. Those who oppose such things must make theological arguments, and that’s why, IMO, the ONLY issue is the Bible — its nature, authority, and teachings. Which, Ron…leads us back to my two questions. Once you cough up yes and yes, then we can have a discussion as to whether the Bible is what you claim it is and whether it should be relied upon for morality.

            You should know that you are just the latest in a long line of Christians who have tried to play this game with me and the readers of this blog. After countless discussions, I hope you’ll forgive me for asking you to get to the point by answering my two questions.


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          you haven’t answered the key question — is the bible the “objective morality” that you refer to? if not, where is the objective morality you refer to? you spin lots of words, but don’t answer the key question.

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            re: “…like where I demonstrated that the slavery argument is self-refuting…”

            you did no such thing.

            re: “I answered Q3 directly with verses that you have not refuted”

            i don’t accept the bible as an authority, so i see no need to refute the verses you quoted. i’m pretty sure bruce and many other readers here feel the same way. given the other drivel in the bible (slavery, stoning, etc) which has been brought up i this discussion and you have never addressed, why should the verses you quoted have to be refuted as if they are some authoritative source.

            re: ‘You can discard philosophical arguments….”

            you may pretend you’re making philosophical arguments, but you’re not — you’re making religious arguments. stop pretending otherwise.

            so, unless you start to address the issues we raised, i’m unlikely to continue this discussion.

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          “Where can you find the objective, transcendent, universal morality? As in, GPS coordinates? It’s not tangible, much like love, logic, or justice, you can’t hear, see, touch, smell, or taste it. Yet, it exists.”

          What an absolutely excellent description, albeit not definition, of subjective. Though your reference to GPS coordinates is a little silly, as they are the result of the most unintuitive, yet devastatingly accurate, scientific theory of all, namely quantum physics.

          You have failed to respond to Bruce’s challenges. He’s asked you several times whether you are referring to the Christian God and to the Christian bible. You haven’t directly answered. Do you intend so doing?

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        re: “Slavery Card! ( That didn’t take long. )”

        as i’m sure you well know, slavery is condoned in the bible, and was used to justify slavery of blacks for ~350 years. yet you avoid answering the issue. are you arguing that the bible does not condone slavery? or are you arguing that slavery is wrong but the bible was improperly interpreted for all those years?

        or are you willing to concede that the bible has errors, that i was written by humans that were products of their time? that even if it was perhaps somewhat inspired by a god/gods, it still contains human error?

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    …again failing to find the reply button under Bruce’s 5/13 4:05 post

    Thanks for tackling a few questions.

    Before we argue what the universally objective moral standard is, we have to acknowledge that there is one. That time, geography, either of our respective opinions, or societal construct is not the determining factor by which we “judge” (*gasp*) what is right and wrong.

    Only after we establish that there is a transcendent, universal morality can argue which standard is right and which is wrong and why. If you’re going to say that homosexual America is right and slave owning America is wrong, and say that it’s because we’ve evolved, we have to acknowledge that slave owning America was simply under-evolved and therefore not wrong. Whatever society evolves is correct, yes? The standard has to apply for each time period if the determining factor is where society finds itself on a scale of evolved thought. Otherwise, you’re making the case for universal objective morality.

    If we’re just going to say that current society is always correct, because that’s the definition of evolution, why advocate/agitate for a cause? So why is Hastert immoral, certainly NAMBLA would advocate for Hastert’s behavior?

    I’ve answered more than a half dozen other questions. And you’ve assumed my answer to your two questions. You keep threatening to change the topic and gain the upper hand.

    The Wilson video discussed works vs salvation (you know, the main topic of the original post). You claim he’s immoral in some way, as if you would listen to perfect people, should you find one (while you likely know that the beginning of the Gospel is that no human is Holy/Righteous , but the triune Godhead is).

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      How does this work in court? “You’re honor, I’m just more evolved than these other people, that’s why I can do what I did? We’ll be a more evolved people if we allow my behavior to go unpunished.”

      No, there’s a standard to be held to.
      If we can’t agree that there is one, everything is arbitrary.

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        John Arthur

        Hi Ron,

        What is your standard of objective morality? You haven’t answered Bruce’s two chief questions,yet. You refer to the Triune God in a previous post, so I assume that some form of Christianity forms the basis for your so-called objective morality.Neither Muslims nor Jews speak of God as Triune.

        If, as many Christian theologians maintain that there is no one point of view on many topics in the bible itself (Including contradictory views), and if their perspective is correct, then the bible cannot be an objective basis for morality.

        If there is only one point of view on any topic in the bible but countless different and often contradictory interpretations of this book, then again how to you know any particular interpretation is correct? After all, most Christians believe that they are guided by the Holy Spirit, yet he seems to be guiding them in many different ways. It seems like the mythical story of Babel: a veritable confusion of tongues.

        Now the so-called revelation of god contained in the bible has theological and ethical statements that are given within given political,,economic, religious and social structures (or patterned relationships into which people or groups of people enter to meet their fundamental and perceived needs) and given ancient norms, values world views and ideologies (social culture) that affected their human behaviour. When the structures and social culture changed significantly, Christian ethics/ moral;ity changed to reflect the newer structures and social culture. So how does this form a basis for an objective morality?

        Even when we examine modern Christian ethics, we see a variety of approaches. There is natural law ethics and so-called revealed ethics. On “revealed ethics” there are many different approaches. e.g. deontological Christian ethics and divine command theory, consequentialist Christian ethics, and ethics based on different Evangelical and non Evangelical theologies. I fail to see how you can maintain that there is an objective morality that is based on the so-called triune god.


        John Arthur

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      Bruce Gerencser

      You said:

      “Before we argue what the universally objective moral standard is, we have to acknowledge that there is one. That time, geography, either of our respective opinions, or societal construct is not the determining factor by which we “judge” (*gasp*) what is right and wrong.”

      There never was such a time. From the Evangelical point of view, we can’t go back to Genesis and the creation of the universe to prove “objective” morality. According to the Bible, God only gave humans one objective law–don’t eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Not the Ten Commandments, not the laws of the OT or the NT, just one law–don’t eat.

      The human race was propagated through incest, a behavior the Bible (God) later condemns. Thus, we need not get beyond the first few pages of the Bible before we see that God’s morality is subjective and changing. If the Bible is anything, it is a written record of how morality changed over time.

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        You hit the nail on the head saying that god’s morality is subjective throughout the bible. I think the modern term is ‘consequentialist’, in that when God takes an action that we no regard as heinous, for example one of his acts of genocide, Christians pipe up and say ‘oh, but God did it for a reason’. Thus the act itself may have been prima facie wrong, that is immoral, but is justified by the consequences.

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          God’s work in modern day Sunday Schools reflects that ageless and eternal love for us by terrifying and abusing children with ideas of monster devils and superhero angels, by hugging little ones and telling them they were born evil and incomplete, by teaching them happy little mindfuck ditties that are written to undermine and correct (sic) them. The sickness inherent in evangelical Christianity is epitomized by wordmongers like Doug Wilson who will glady control your life and family in his club. He will help you define objective and subjective! Ha! Now that is a good one, ron. The other side of his ministry has a truth too: Natalie Greenwood. Her Christian consequence was child sacrifice, to be given over…. oh wait, that was the devil, Jamin, not the church at all! Of course Jamin was welcomed back to church. On it goes. Aw shucks, nobody’s perfect. Pass that offering plate.

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    **I expect that you’ll not run this one, using the Thor like hammer you wielded to squash the last brilliantly devastating comment. I assume it’s just you and me, now Bruce.**

    “Is this Creator you speak of the Christian God (your version of said God)?” –That’s the language commonly used. Others say Lord God Almighty, Yahweh, Jehovah, etc…you’ve encountered many of them, I’m sure.

    “Is the Bible this God’s objective standard of morality?” –Partially, it’s not that simple.

    The Christian God (if you like), himself, is the objective standard of morality. In fact, we get the word “good” from “God” (so scrub that from your vocabulary…GOD – The English word God is identical with the Anglo-Saxon word for “good,” and therefore it is believed that the name God refers to the divine goodness. (See Oehler’s Theol. of Old Test.; Strong’s and Young’s concordances.) (From New Unger’s Bible Dictionary) (Originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois. Copyright (C) 1988.))

    He reveals Himself to us in the Bible, and by His Spirit, and in creation, etc. However, and this is the irony of your question, Bruce, we strive to understand what the Bible calls “the deep things of God” (1st Corinthians 2:10). There are things that we’ve begun to understand via His revelation, like gravity, magnetic fields, photosynthesis, basic MATH, etc. There are yet other things that we do not yet understand, like dark matter, heaven/hell, time/space, etc. These concepts so fascinate the minds of men that they chase understanding as a profession. So, clearly, not all has been revealed. However, enough has been revealed to discuss your standard against hypocrisy.

    The uni (one) verse (word) is His. It preexisted Earth and humanity (since you wish to return to Genesis). Even if you’d like to discuss the incest of Genesis, thousands of years ago and consider it hypocrisy to be anti-incest today, how long has anti-incest been the moral standard? The answer is much longer than any moral standard you aspire to. That conveniently leaves aside the necessary effect of descending from Adam, being stained with his sin. This only sets up the need for a Saviour, the Gospel, etc…but by all means, hang your hat on this argument.

    It is odd that a false teacher such as yourself would try to hold the Bible to any high standard. Since any and all standards seem to only be based on what works for a given society, at a given time, in a given place. By this logic the “standard” could change per zip code, per mile, per hour, much less, per decade. Not that you care to define “standard”.

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      re: “…to squash the last brilliantly devastating comment”

      you’re a legend in your own mind, but nowhere else. nothing you’ve said in any of your published comments rises to even slightly original. there have been a few dozen people just like you, pretending to have a new argument, stalling on explicitly stating their beliefs, asking lots of questions but answering none, etc.

      re: ““Is the Bible this God’s objective standard of morality?” –Partially, it’s not that simple.”

      ahh yes, the “it’s complicated” argument, where you get to throw out anything in the bible you don’t like, but get to include your interpretation of anything in the bible that you like. so, exactly which christian denomination is the one that has the “one true christianity” right? ie, who has the “not that simple” completely figured out? most of the people that get to the “it’s complicated” phase turn into liberal christians, and give up pestering other people to try to make them believe the same as they do. and yet there you are, pestering away.

      re: “…His revelation, like gravity, magnetic fields, photosynthesis, basic MATH, …”

      ok, so gravity proves god? well, so far as i know gravity is the same for every culture on the planet and has been for all time, and yet somehow every other flavor of religion didn’t end up christian. hmmm.

      multiple prophets are within the christian bible. did god bother to send any prophets to any other cultures of the world? which ones? was buddha a prophet? Zoroaster? were the hindu’s sent any prophets? did they just not listen as intently as the christians to the prophets and get it wrong? or did god not love them as much as he loved the jews/christians, so didn’t send them any prophets? and what point are the hindu’s going to be tossed into hell for not believing in jesus, vs not being held accountable because they’d never heard of him, given that it’s taking a few centuries to word to get there?

      but do i really want you to answer these questions? frankly, i know you won’t. oh, you’ll claim you answer them, but you’ll talk around and around in circles, never giving any specifics, and take credit for things like gravity proving your vision of god, and insulting bruce and others for not having any “standards” when you refuse to state you own standard other than “it’s not that simple.”

      “it’s not that simple” but without any rules to go by (other than agreeing with you), looks suspiciously like “subjective” to my mind.

      which, based on the dozens of people just like you that have visited bruce’s blog, means that they have to agree with your particular interpretation of the bible, and everyone else is wrong. and “it’s not that simple” is used to avoid ever giving any set of rules on when the bible is correct, when it’s been misintepreted, etc. outside of the realm of religion, your argumentation technique is called gaslighting. its entirely subjective to you, but you pretend that it’s direct from god and objective, it’s just that only you and your flavor of christianity got it correct, and everyone else throughout time was wrong, by a little or a lot, but still wrong. but you’re so brilliant, that you got the “objective” standard completely right before anyone else did.

      altho your spelling and grammar a half-step above most of your brethren, and your insults are a bit more nuanced and veiled, you’ve really provided nothing new or interesting in your discussion so far. so while i’m slightly surprised you actually came back and kinda sorta answered the 2 questions, you didn’t give enough detail, and brought in a bunch of extraneous gibberish about gravity somehow proving “it’s not that simple”, it would obviously be a like pulling teeth to extract any more detailed information about what “it’s not that simple” actually means to you.

      so personally, the signal to noise ratio in your writing is such that i’m not likely to respond if any future comments are essentially like the past. we’ve all seen this movie before. you’ve stalled out about where other’s have, unable to give any coherent explaination where why and how they pick and choose which parts they believe, but taking far longer than average to say so.

      you could just become a liberal christian, and still pick and chose what to believe, and not try to evangelize everyone else, and give up on the notion of hell. you’d be less obnoxious to us, and probably happier yourself, not having to worry about the billions of people being sent to hell, and perhaps free up a few spare mental cycles to work on feeding the hungry and housing the homeless instead.

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        Bruce Gerencser

        Ron sees himself as a teacher sent by the Christian God to educate dumb atheists about the existence of God. Looking into the mirror he sees brilliance, unaware that what he perceives as devastating brilliance is actually the same lame arguments Christians have used over the past eight years in their attempts to show me the error of my way. As all who have come before him, he failed miserably.

        In the end, Ron somewhat answered my questions like I knew he would. He zigged, zagged, and danced, but in the end….Ron’s objective morality comes from the Bible. And, as anyone who has bothered to study the Bible knows, the Bible’s “morality”is subjective. Further, the Rons of the world face a difficult challenge when proving that their God is the God of the Bible. Monotheism and Trinitarianism are assumed (presupposed) when in fact Genesis’s God is actually polytheistic. Christians like Ron infallibly state that the creator God is the Christian God, but they have zero evidence for this claim. Again, the assume facts that are not in evidence.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      You presuppose things that are not in evidence:

      1. That creation reveals the existence of a God

      2. That this God is the Christian God

      3. That the Christian God is your version of said God

      4. That the Protestant Bible reveals the Christian God

      5. That the Christian God is moral

      6. That the moral Chrustian God gave humans an infallible moral standard–the Protestant Bible

      You state all of these things as fact without proving any of them. Thus,these claim are faith-based, not fact-based.

      I defy you to provide sufficient evidence for the claim that the creator God is in fact your God. On what basis do you speak infallibly on this matter, rejecting all other Gods but yours?

      Sin? A religious construct used to instill fear into people resulting in them seeking salvation/forgiveness/absolution from the God/Church. I reject this notion.

      Let me know when you really have something to say. All you have offered is your theological opinions. So much for objective truth. Oh wait, you are God in this story.

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        Ron’s lack of knowledge, and cognitive dissonance, showed themselves when he stated as fact that the word ‘god’ derives from the word ‘good’. It doesn’t, and is much more obscure. I don’t want to go into it here, but if he googles it he’ll see his error. I don’t suppose he will because learning is not his goal.

        I have to say I was also dismayed by his disingenuous claim as to how god seems to have led us to understand so much science, like gravity, magnetism, and he even threw in quantum physics. What absolute, total nonsense; nothing could be further from the truth. Science has trumped religion on every occasion the two have conflicted. Not ‘most’ of the time, but every single time, without exception. Religion was so threatened that it did its level best to fight scientific progress for hundreds of years, leading to the dark ages, a period of shameful stagnation of the human race caused, largely, by the Church of Rome.

        For centuries the Christian religion has tried to take the credit for morality; now Ron wants to add science to the mix. Nothing could be further from the truth. On both counts religion is found not just to be wanting, but the most serious impediment to progress in both fields.

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          (Extraneous bullshit deleted. I will let this be Ron’s last word.)

          Which is the long awaited answer, and help, to Bruce’s vaunted second question. Instead of asking “Is the Bible this God’s objective standard of morality?” you should ask if God is the objective standard of morality. The answer to that is an unqualified YES AND…(A) anything that reflects the character/nature of God and / or (B) anything that glorifies God. How simple is that?!! THIS is what you rail against (and deny the existence of), not the Bible.

          The point I’ve been making from the start of this: while you continue (rightly) to rail against Christian hypocrisy, holding fast to a false non-standard of morality, you and I both know what is moral and why hypocrisy falls short: because it contradicts the character/nature of God. You know this standard because of your humanity, you are an made in the image and likeness of God. To not do so, would mean being something other than human . This is the standard that you hold to, while defending the indefensible, and attempting to look like you’re not a hypocrite.

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            Bruce Gerencser

            You make no effort to give evidence to prove that this moral God of yours is the Christian God of the Bible. I find nothing in nature that says to me Ron’s God is the one true living God, the creator of everything.

            While you love to wax eloquently–in your mind–about morality and God being self-attesting, you provide no evidence for this. You assert that I (we) know this to be true. If this is so, then most of the people who have ever lived on the face of the earth believed in the wrong God. Good news! Ron believes in the right God. Yea, team Ron!

            Of course, there is evidence you could give for your God being the one true God, yet you do not do so. Why is that? You know if you dare use the Bible as evidence you have boxed yourself in and will be forced to defend the actions of your “moral” God. The problem of course is that the conduct of your God is anything but moral. I am just using your argument here. If we humans intuitively know what is moral (this intuition given to us by the Christian God) surely God knows the same. Should we not expect a perfect being such as Ron’s God to act according to his prescribed moral standard? Yet, he doesn’t. So what does this tell us about Ron’s God?

            The fact is, Ron’s God is found ONLY within the pages of the Bible. Try as you might to avoid this, you can provide no evidence for the existence of your God apart from the Bible. Christianity, along with Islam and Judaism, is a text-based religion. There is no God, Jesus, or Christianity apart from the Bible. Without the Bible, Ron, all you have is some sort of New Age/Gnostic/esoteric belief in a God that can not be seen, heard, or touched.

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            I can understand your confusion. You have an inbuilt sense of what is right and wrong, just as most people do, and you put that down to god having imbued it.

            You couldn’t be more wrong. Our sense of right and wrong is something that has been hard earned over the history of mankind and I resent the suggestion that all that effort and development has been magically built in to us. It’s actually insulting to our ancestors that you are denying them the credit of the contributions they all made.

            As Bruce keeps asking, if you have some evidence in support of your assertions then please tell us. So far you haven’t done any such thing.

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            re: “…anything that reflects the character/nature of God …”

            yet you still haven’t specified what the character/nature of god is!

            re: “… you and I both know what is moral and why hypocrisy falls short: because it contradicts the character/nature of God.”

            if people know what’s moral, why does it take centuries to stop slavery? have you ever heard of the milgram experiment? the stanford prisoner experiment?

            and why do you care so much whether bruce believes the same as you do? why don’t you go on a crusade against all those hypocritical christians, the ones that are impugning the reputation of god, instead of attacking bruce and trying to change his mind?

            will your moral god damn bruce to hell for not believing the right things?

            since i don’t think i’ve seen comments from you before, i’m guessing a search about lgbt or transgender issues brought you to this blog post, and that you really dislike “those” people, and so you’re railing against bruce because he doesn’t hate the same people you do. and all your flowery language of “innate sense of morality” is verbal ju-jitsu trying to make us believe as you do. you simply have no understanding of the long line of assumptions your beliefs are predicated on. it’s taken days and dozens of posts to get the most rudimentary nuggets of info out of you. simply not worth the time. glad bruce has stopped your further posting.

            the world is (in my view rightly) coming to recognize the humanity of lgbt people, and giving them the rights they deserve, the same rights you have. and you and your fellow christians don’t like it, because you’re oh-so-sure you know the will of god, and exactly who he hates. and so you all rant and rave and shout and demonstrate your own inhumanity.

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    Ya no sorry. Preaching sin, repentance and grace is basically the message of the gospel so saying transgenders are deluded (god created them male and female) or practicing homosexuals are living in sin is perfectly consistent with grace based salvation. Seems the problem most people have with Christians is their tendency to point out their wrongdoings, which is consistent with stuff MacArthur says about sinners wanting nothing more than to be left to their sins.

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      Bruce Gerencser

      The problem that most people have with Evangelicals is that many of them are arrogant, self-righteous, judgmental assholes who view themselves as the arbiters of what is moral for everyone.

      The unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines of the world — the non-elect — most certainly want to be left to their sins. We want to be free to fuck who we want, where, when, why, and how we choose. You are free to do the same.

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Bruce Gerencser