Our man, Tony Jones, has done it again! In a recent blog1 of his, he promoted a viewpoint that allows for a subjective morality, or as he likes to coin it, “reflective equilibrium”. What makes his approach important, is that it highlights the raw consequences of adopting the principles inherent in postmodernism, and especially the progressive, liberal, so called “Christian”, interpretation of it. His blog is aptly titled “Progressive Christians Don’t Need Any Foundations”, and that alone tells you where he’s heading with this.
The blog concerns morality, and the question as to the foundation of the “progressive” christian’s morality. He has a problem with foundations, in fact he rejects foundations with his clear statement “we don’t need a foundation.” In his opinion, foundations are man-made inventions and contradicts how the human mind reasons, which is more like a web, than bottom-to-top as “foundation” implies. As per Jones “foundations lead to fundamentals, and fundamentals cannot hold.” So, throw away foundation, and you’re left with? According to him “we come to our moral convictions through a process that is, just that, a process.”
He uses the gay issue to show how people change their morals once they actually experience certain life challenges.“It’s true: people change their mind on the issue of homosexuality when one of their children comes out. Or their nephew or niece. Or their spouse. Relational moments like this tend to rupture a person’s reflective equilibrium.”
So for Jones there is no place for any think absolute, objective that serves as a foundation for morality. Morality is something that is formed as life happens and when a certain issue challenges your current morality, boundaries need to shift – or removed, and there is no problem with that, as it is not based on an objective foundation. This implies that if my son turns out gay, I will be fine in changing my position about homosexuality as being a sin in God’s eye to accepted by Him; if my daughter goes for an abortion I can accommodate that as not being murder any more. So we can go on changing “rupturing” our theology to shift morality boundaries.
Well, then I suppose the Bible can be discarded and God is dethroned as a holy and righteous God. When God delivered Israel from Egypt, He brought them to the mountain and there gave them the ten rules of life. These commandments were nothing else than a moral foundation for their lives under His Lordship. I have as yet not seen the verse where God said “but if life should challenge you on some aspect of this, you are allowed to shift the boundaries to accommodate this new challenge.” On the contrary, the Book of Deuteronomy explicitly warns against ignoring and changing these boundaries.
A perfect example is what happened while Moses was up on the mountain. The first and second rules concerning worshipping God as the One and Only were jeopardised by the people creating a god and feasting to it. Moses returned to sound sound of this Rave going on. What was the reaction? He did not sit down and negotiate a new moral rule regarding worshipping God(s) via idols. People died because of disobedience and idolatry, but the objective and absolute foundation remained. Psalm 119 asks the question on the importance of God’s Word“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Ps. 119:9) and the clear confession “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps. 119:105).
The Reformation restated the important fact that the Scriptures are the final authority on life and doctrine. Sola Scriptura! That was their credo. Scripture regulates the life of man because it is God’s Word.
So what Jones is actually saying in this blog is that we can discard the Word of God as the only and final authority for our morality. God was silly when He thought that something like the Word would be suited to regulate our lives. Well, his argument fits 100% the opinions of the postmodern religion, that there is no such thing as objective, absolute truth and the Bible is not God’s Word, but the words of man about God. He is definately not promoting a Christian worldview, but one that makes man the centre of his own morality, void of the Gospel of Christ.
In his opinion, man and his experiences determine morality. So now my question is this: is this not then man-made? At least the Bible is God’s inspired Word and therefore the foundation of our morality. This is a sure foundation with boundaries set by God by which we must live our lives in His presence. So no, morality is not something floating. It is based on God’s infallible and inerrant Word. The fact that we interpret it incorrectly does not license us to change it as we want. We need to be constantly correcting our morality to be in line with God’s Word, and not shift boundaries to accommodate our challenges and opinions.
1. Progressive Christians Don’t Need Any Foundations [Questions That Haunt]. All quotes will be taken from this blog, unless otherwise stated.