Understanding Christianity: Morality

What do Christians believe? Why is the cross the symbol of their faith? In this series Pastor Tim Schouten of the Prince George Canadian Reformed Church explains some of the fundamental beliefs of the Christian faith. Questions? Email pastortim@pgchurch.ca.

Are you a good person? How do you know?

Whenever we ask questions about “good” and “bad” we are dealing with the topic of morality. And whenever we deal with morality the fundamental question is: “How do we know?” Who decides what is right and what is wrong?

The answer that Christianity gives is: God decides. God is the only ultimate foundation for morality and it is he who determines right and wrong. Apart from believing this all our moral judgments are simply personal or cultural preferences.

In the first chapters of the Bible, we see God making statements of value and giving moral commands. He creates the world and calls it “very good.” He places the first man and the first woman in this very good world and gives them one command: “you shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Why did God give this command (or any command)? There are three basic answers.

First, since God is the creator of all things, he has every right to decide what is right and wrong, and therefore give commands. He is the potter, we are the clay.

Second, God has knowledge that people don’t. To protect people he provides boundaries, just like parents do for their children because they love them. His commands are not arbitrary but are designed to make us flourish.

Third, God created people to love him, and the way we are to express that love is through humble trust. God designed people to glorify him and enjoy his presence as completely dependent children. We are to express that dependence by trusting his judgments and keeping his commands.

God did not create automatons. He did not program us to respond to his love; instead he created us with our own wills. He wanted us to truly respond to him and love him with our heart, soul, and mind. As part of that he gave us a choice: will you accept my moral standards or will you reject them?

This understanding of morality is fundamental to Christianity. As we saw in the first part of this series, Christians do not believe that humanity is the measure of all things. People do not have the right to determine what is good and what is evil, but must leave those judgments to God and live their lives accordingly.

All of this informs the Christian response to the question, “are you a good person?” as we will see next time.

Author Rev. Tim Schouten

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