The divine command theory?

Discussion in 'Defending the Faith' started by InevitablyReformed, Feb 10, 2009.

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  1. ChristianTrader

    ChristianTrader Puritan Board Graduate

    Did Abraham sin by intending to kill his son?

  2. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This is the very point under discussion. The fact of the matter is that Christ had a will which varied from the will of the Father so far as drinking the cup was concerned, and required Him to consecrate Himself to doing the Father's will. That cannot be disputed. And obviously, that variance was not sin, but perfectly compatible with sinless human nature.
  3. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Which of the following two options do you think more accurately represent Christ's statement:

    A. "Not my will to uphold the moral law, but yours to uphold your decree [i.e., positive law], be done."

    B. "Not my will to choose an alternative of less suffering, but yours to endure this suffering, be done."

    I think B is clearly the correct answer. If there is ever a dispute between moral law and positive law, such that someone must choose one or the other, it is not this scenario.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor


    C. "Not my will to preserve my life according to sinless human desire, but thy will to give my life according to the conditions of the covenant of redemption for the salvation of those whom thou hast given me.

    And when stated in this way, it is clear that the means necessary for saving His life were renounced in favour of taking the course of action necessary for eternally saving His people. In other words,, He consecrated Himself to serve a higher law. And it is this higher, self-denying principle which makes the requirement to love a "new commandment."
  5. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Obviously, Jesus renounced fighting back against His enemies who were crucifying Him -- but it doesn't follow that He broke the sixth commandment in the process. If we are serving a better purpose, it is the right thing to not act in self-defense; that doesn't mean we broke an actual obligation to act in self-defense. It merely means that the sixth commandment was applied differently at that moment, taking into account the greater purpose which self-defense would negate.

    If I decide that it would be better to assassinate a man who would certainly kill many others including myself, it doesn't follow that the sixth commandment was substituted for a higher law when I make that decision, or that I had to choose between two laws, but rather that it was applied differently.

    Moreover, how does God make laws on different strata? Can a law given by God be contradicted by another law given by Him? Can a law given by God not be actually binding? Is the moral law simply not that important? What are the implications of saying that Jesus had to choose between two laws both given by the same omniscient God?
  6. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Morality is concerned with the principles of justice. If one does not act in self-defence, immorality is permitted to prevail. That is why there are courts of law -- to maintain reciprocal rights. The commandment is to love thy neighbour as thyself. Morality is concerned with personal rights. The actions of Christ went beyond self rights to teach that we are to love our neighbour in sacrifice of ourselves. By so doing He taught a new commandment. There is no denying the fact that the sixth commandment requires us to use all lawful endeavours to preserve our own life, yet Christ refused to speak or act in self defence, even before the proper courts of law. He surrendered His moral rights in order to obey the salvific will of the Father.
  7. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Again, I'm not denying that self-defense in entailed in the sixth commandment. I absolutely agree with that, and you are correct in saying that it is a vital basis for justice.

    I do dispute, however, with the proposition that self-defense is inexorably linked with the commandment, i.e., that self-defense trumps every situation in which the sixth commandment is pertinent. Certainly there are some applications of the sixth commandment wherein self-defense is denied for a greater purpose. This is not a denial of the sixth commandment itself, but rather a different application of it.

    I have to go take a chemistry exam now. :pray2:
  8. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Then we agree that Christ left undone what was required in the sixth commandment in order to fulfil the saving will of the Father. What was right was dictated by the fact that it was God's will; God didn't will it because it was something inherently right. Impersonal Right did not govern the actions of Christ but Sovereign Love.
  9. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    I agree that God's dictation makes right, rather than the opposite, but not that Jesus actually did not fulfill the sixth commandment. As I said, the circumstances of Christ's crucifixion did not oblige Christ to act in self-defense. The sixth commandment did not cause some type of dialectic where Christ had to choose between moral law and positive law. There was a dialectic, for sure, but this was not between the sixth commandment and fulfilling the covenant of redemption. In some cases the sixth commandment does not entail self-defense, and this was one of those cases. Everything fits together perfectly.

    :lol: I like how most of my posts in this thread are "I agree with this, but not this."
  10. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    This comes back to your understanding of the sixth commandment rather than to the question at hand. The element of self-respect is entailed in all moral commandments relative to our neighbour, as the second great commandment makes evident.
  11. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    And what if it benefits our neighbor not to act in self-defense, more so than otherwise?
  12. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    It can't in the ordinary sphere of human morality, because it promotes injustice; the death of Christ benefits because it avails in the justiciary court of heaven -- the just for the unjust, to bring us to God.
  13. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    What do you believe about Christian missionaries who are martyred? If they are not choosing to follow the sixth commandment, then what higher law of God are they choosing to follow? Or are they even justified in their martyrdom? If they are, how can we get a hold of this higher law which apparently supersedes the Decalogue?

    Please note I am not trying to equate Jesus with a mere martyr; rather I am trying to establish certain implications about the sixth commandment.
  14. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    They are obeying the new commandment to love one another as Jesus has loved them.
  15. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Can you please answer the other questions I posed as well?

    Furthermore, is this commandment contrary to the Decalogue? Is Jesus preaching a new law? Does this mean that martyrdom in any sense was immoral prior to Christ?

    I'm gonna hit the sack now. Good night, Rev. Winzer. :)
  16. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    They are obeying the sixth commandment, but without self-respect, obeying rather out of love to Christ. We must remember that Christ has transformed the moral law. It is not a new law, but an old law made new. The old law is necessary for civil justice, but as transformed by Jesus it demonstrates the kingdom of heaven has penetrated the present order. As to whether it is immoral, that is the issue being discussed, my view being that to obey a higher law issues in a higher morality, not immorality. Sleep well and blessings!
  17. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    What I'm asking is that, if the old law replaced the new law, and if the new law mandates that we sometimes forgo the sixth commandment for martyrdom, then does it follow that martyrs prior to Jesus' coming were acting immorally?

    Furthermore, it appears that loving one's neighbor as oneself was mandated prior to Christ: "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD" (Lev. 19:18).
  18. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Again, I don't consider acting according to a higher law to be immoral, but a higher morality. Jesus' coming was foreshadowed and foretold, and OT saints believed on the promise of His coming; we can expect their faith to have had an ethical effect on their lives; so it would be incorrect to draw an antithetical line between the before and after of the first advent of Christ, especially considering the teaching of Hebrews 11.

    As also after Christ's coming, Rom. 13:9, and is fully applicable to the continued maintenance of civil order.

    Following the new commandment is a heavenly ethic which penetrates the present order. In one sense it produces renewal in terms of manifesting the kingdom of God in the world, and therefore the apostle John calls it a walking in light; in another sense it produces judgment on the present world because the blood of the martyrs cries out for justice, and therefore this ethic manifests a kingdom of darkness and those who walk in it.
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