Bible Authority and Moral Relativism
Does the Bible have authority over our lives? If it does – is it absolute? Why, or why not?
These are important questions, because people without a Biblical worldview don’t have a reason to subject their values to any higher power than themselves. This is why moral relativism is such a problem, i.e., if there is no higher authority, no absolute truth – who are you to impose your values on me? What gives you the right to tell me your morals are better or more important than mine?
If there is no Governing Authority, and no Absolute Power – then I don’t have the right to assert my values are any more legitimate than yours. But if the values aren’t mine, but originate with One who DOES have absolute authority, then that’s a whole different ballgame.
Moral Relativism in History
Moral relativism has been developing for some time now. In fact, it started in the Garden of Eden when the serpent posed the question to our first parents – “Hath God said?” – and then went on to impugn God and His motives for daring to impose His values (His authority) above theirs. Adam and Eve chose their own values (self-exaltation) – when they chose to presume they could “be like God” by eating the forbidden fruit (an attempt to be more exalted than they were), and asserted their wills above God’s. We all know the result.
This spirit continued in Biblical times during the period of the Judges, when, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). No King = no higher authority = no clear standard for everyone to live by.
It continued with Shakespeare, who was born in what is called the Elizabethan period, or the English Renaissance (1558-1603). One of Shakespeare’s most quoted lines is uttered by the character Polonius in the play Hamlet “To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” While on the surface this looks correct, it leads to a problem when what is true to one man (self) finds itself in opposition to what is true to another. Everyone’s “own truth” doesn’t work. Because what happens when they conflict? Whose values matter most then? See what happens(?) – we’re back at square one again.
The spirit of “my will as supreme” continued with Aleister Crowley, an early 20th century British writer and ceremonial magician, who developed a religion called Thelema. Crowley’s writings played a major role in what was to transpire in music and culture throughout the rest of the century. His religions main theme was “Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law”. Crowley was revered by popular musical groups such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, et al. “Do what thou wilt soon morphed into the 1960′s saying “Do your own thing“.
This was followed by post-modernism, which is the dominant culture produced by public education in the latter 20th and early 21st century. Post-modernism’s mantra seems to be that there are no moral absolutes and everyone has their own reality. Since everyone has their own reality then it necessarily follows that no one has the right to claim their reality to be more correct or appropriate than anyone else’s.
The Bible Is Absolute
Which brings us to the Bible, or, more specifically – the God of the Bible.
You know, the Bible is a fascinating book. There is nothing else like it in all of human history. In fact, there’s nothing even close!
In my mind the single greatest thing which separates it from all other books is the claims it makes for itself. The Bible unequivocally claims to be inspired by God – our Creator – the Creator of the entire universe.
Listen to the following verses where, if they are to be believed, God is speaking to us in the first person!!
There are many to choose from but to me there is no better section to gleam texts of God speaking than in Isaiah chapters 40-46. In fact I HIGHLY recommend you read those chapters if you aren’t familiar with them … Here’s a few quotes claiming to be God Himself speaking:
- “Thus says the Lord who made you, And formed you from the womb …” Isa 44:2
- “Thus says the Lord , the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts; I am the First and the Last; Besides Me there is no God” Isa 44:6,7
- “I am the Lord, that is My name; And My glory I will not give to another …” Isa 42:8
- “I have made the earth, and created man on it. I – My hands – stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded.” Isa 45:12
- “Look to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself; the word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness and shall not return (i.e., shall not return “void” – see Isa 55:11), that to Me every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess” Isa 45:22,23
Do you see why I enjoy this section of scripture so much? I just pulled out a few. Texts like these go on and on with God claiming exclusivity in the “ultimate authority” department.
What If It’s True?
What if it’s true? What if the Bible really is a communication to us from our Creator? Wouldn’t that have profound implications?
I believe it would!
For one thing if the Bible really is a book of messages to us from our Creator, that would mean there is an authority greater than my own that I am accountable to. To say otherwise is to say God doesn’t have the right to be God. How absurd is that, if He made us?
If God is God His rightful place is to be the center of the universe – around Whom everything – animate and inanimate, revolves. This should be obvious because without the Creator nothing even exists.
“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.” Rev 4:11
The Bible says that only God has immortality (see 1 Tim 6:16), meaning we were not only created by Him, but we are also dependent upon Him to continue living.
Because we are His creation God gets to decide how the creatures He has created are to live. God’s commandment is that we love each other. And the Bible says we will be judged for what we did with the life we were given, and that one day we’ll stand before God and give an account. And guess what that amounts to?
Jesus said it perfectly when He was tempted by Satan to turn stones into bread to satisfy His hunger after He’d fasted 40 days and nights.
What did Jesus say?
“It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Living by every word that proceeds out of someone’s mouth is a definition of submission to an absolute authority – is it not? So my answer to the original question I posed is “YES!” … the Bible DOES have ABSOLUTE authority!
THE NEXT QUESTION to ask would be – How does God use authority? Is He fair or abusive? And, can God be trusted with absolute authority?
That, my friends, is the subject for another post!
But meanwhile … tell me your thoughts in the comment section below. Do you agree with what I’ve written here? Disagree? Do you have any questions or anything to add?
NOTE: Have you seen my new book? Check out the introduction here: http://biblestudythoughts.com/romans-7-14-25