Saturday, April 25, 2009

Does God Have to Obey the 10 Commandments? - by Greg Koukl

Greg Koukl has written a brief article discussing whether or not God has to obey the 10 Commandments, found here.
If you want to call moral rules absolutes in the sense that they can never be trumped, then that is probably too strong a definition and not a Biblical definition. And if you are not careful, it makes God subject to His own rules in a way that puts the rules above God instead of God above the rules. more...
Happy Reading.

6 comments :

Lee said...

Does God Have to Obey the 10 Commandments?Theology – don’t you just love it?

I try and think of analogies.

Likes think if we have a King – let’s call him George.

George is the sovereign lord and ruler – he can create any law and his subjects have to follow.

Now, is George to be confined to the laws that he creates?

Well, since he is sovereign lord of the land – technically not.

However his subjects will not think it right if it is one rule for one, and another rule for another.

They might throw tea into the water or something to have a party :-)

If we are to respect the King and ruler then he should follow his own laws. If the King does not follow them, why should we :-)

So just like theology – I’ve answered nothing.

I shall try and read the link now.

Take care

Lee

lex batistil said...

If you are a true Christian, you should not ask this kind of question.

God is sovereign and so the laws are His nature. The laws itself represents God.

Your analogy in the first place is dead wrong and out of context. You cannot equate God to your "George".

Remember God is a zealous God.

Lee said...

Hi Lex,

If you are a true Christian, you should not ask this kind of question.1. I am not a Christian

2. Even if I was a Christian, just telling me that I would not be a ‘true’ Christian by asking it would be a logical fallacy (Google: No true Scotsman logical fallacy)

3. You have not told me why I cannot ask such a question, or why it isn’t a valid question.

God is sovereign and so the laws are His nature. The laws itself represents God.So did God decide on the laws, or do the laws make ‘His nature’.

Could God choose to have different laws, and thus change His nature?

Not sure what you are telling me here...

Your analogy in the first place is dead wrong and out of context. You cannot equate God to your "George".OK, you have made a statement – now explain why I cannot do what I did.

I used an analogy of an Earthly King, true – but it helps me understand the question, which I tried to answer thus

“If we are to respect the King and ruler then he should follow his own laws. If the King does not follow them, why should we :-)”Where have I gone wrong?

Remember God is a zealous God.How do you know this and why should I care?

Take care

Lee

dvd said...

Lee

So did God decide on the laws, or do the laws make ‘His nature’.

Could God choose to have different laws, and thus change His nature? '

God's nature isn't arbitrary, like evolution. For example, evolution could have taken a different path and rape might have been a moral act, since it is not different then having four fingers vs five fingers regarding selection. Natural selection can't distinguish between the two.

On the other hand, it is a more coherent worldview to say that Morality is Rooted in Personhood, and the Ultimate Unchanging Personhood of God would be the standard.

God is not subject to his own commands, in that God is not just some "other individual" like a King, although he is described as such.

God is the final judge and authority. He creates Life and has in my view the authority to take Life since Life is very unique and it is gift freely given.

We don't have this authority.

When Jesus was a man, or God became flesh, he does not have the right as man to take human life, but had to follow the commandments.

God on the other hand can issue orders for people to kill.

Much like the President of the United States can order the Shooting down of a Plane that contains men, woman and children that is headed toward another building to avert a greater evil.

Now just because the President can have that authority, it does not mean he will ask "anyone" to kill, but rather it is in specific circumstances and for particular reasons.

Now since we can understand the President issues commands that go against the "LAW" we can also understand that God has much, much more commanding authority then the President of the United States!

Lee said...

Hi DVD,

God's nature isn't arbitrary, like evolution.So God doesn’t have freewill to decide to be different?

Well, nobody is perfect :-)

For example, evolution could have taken a different path and rape might have been a moral act, since it is not different then having four fingers vs five fingers regarding selection.I could agree to that…

Natural selection can't distinguish between the two.Are you sure? Maybe I am not understanding you correctly.

If 5 fingers had a survival benefit over 4 fingers – doesn’t natural selection distinguish between the two by selecting one over the other?

On the other hand, it is a more coherent worldview to say that Morality is Rooted in Personhood, and the Ultimate Unchanging Personhood of God would be the standard.That’s your assertion – but I don’t agree with you :-)

And did you mean to spell morality with a capital M?

If you did, then I might agree with you that Morality requires God – the only problem you have now though is showing either Morality (capital M) or God exists

God is not subject to his own commands, in that God is not just some "other individual" like a King, although he is described as such.Again, another assertion… can you explain why?

God is the final judge and authority.The invisible blue unicorn is final judge and authority – there, I’ve asserted it, so does that make it true?

He creates Life and has in my view the authority to take Life since Life is very unique and it is gift freely given. My wife gave birth to our two sons – between us we created life, their lives – without us they would not exist.

Do I have the authority to take it from them?

If I am to follow your logic, reasoning (and example given) and this is to be the basis of my Morality – then I have the right to freely take their lives

I disagree of course, but how can you based on your reasoning?

We don't have this authority.So might makes right?

When Jesus was a man, or God became flesh, he does not have the right as man to take human life, but had to follow the commandments.I’ve never understood this Jesus/God business, so if you do not mind I will move on for now.

God on the other hand can issue orders for people to kill. Not a fine example as to where we get our morals from now is it?

Much like the President of the United States can order the Shooting down of a Plane that contains men, woman and children that is headed toward another building to avert a greater evil.Maybe I could agree with this – but I don’t have to worry about absolute morals, I use reason to come to my conclusions.

Now just because the President can have that authority, it does not mean he will ask "anyone" to kill, but rather it is in specific circumstances and for particular reasons.Can we question his reasoning?

Now since we can understand the President issues commands that go against the "LAW" we can also understand that God has much, much more commanding authority then the President of the United States!Since we have moved onto morals, then nope – I can challenge the president, demand to know his reasoning, hold the president to account…

With greater power comes greater responsibility… yet the bible shows a God with a great deal of power, but no responsibility, understanding or reasoning.

All the best

Lee

The Armchair Theologian said...

Uh, Koukl has his facts wrong in the second paragraph in the article. He says:

"The commandment isn't against killing; it's against murder. Just as in English, the Hebrew language has two different words; and the word murder is what is described in the commandment, not killing."

That is clearly and demonstrably WRONG. The word in Exodus 20:13 is רצח (ratsach), and it can mean kill, slay, murder, etc. depending on CONTEXT and stem (Qal, Niphal, Piel, Pual). Hebrew doesn't have 1 word for killing and 1 word for murder. Koukl doesn't know what he's talking about.

In Hebrew, "murder" can be rendered from רצח (ratsach) or הרג (harag). Harag is a much more common term, occurring 167 times in the Old Testament verses the 47 occurrences of ratsach.

BUT, in Hebrew, "kill" can be rendered from:

רצח (ratsach)
הרג (harag)
זבח (zabach)
חלל (chalal)
טבח (tabach)
מות (mot[h])
נכה (nakah)
קטל (gatal)
שחט (shachat)

Hebrew has no shortage of words that could be translated "kill", though the nuances of the words varies and depends on context.

Koukl's whole "1 word for 'murder' and 1 word for 'killng'" comes from the Septuagint, since Greek has 2 specific words for "kill" (ἀποκτείνω - apokteino) and "murder" (φονεύω - phoneuo), though even that isn't completely accurate. "kill" can be rendered in Greek from ἀναιρέω (anaireo), διαχειρίζω (diacheirizo), θανατόω (thanatoo), θύω (thuo), and σφάζω (sphazo), though those terms carry different connotations (put to death, sacrifice, etc.) that are brought out in their contexts as well.

If his second paragraph carries such a large "I don't do my homework" indication, I'm kinda skeptical about whether or not Koukl is just parroting other people's bad scholarship or looks into what he says for himself.

Koukl could have simply said "God cannot break the 10 commandments since they flow out of his essential moral character." and then addressed common questions (like "can God unjustly take life?")

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