That is the best, most reliable and time-tested means of determining the difference between good and evil?
According to the Book of Proverbs, King Solomon had the right answer: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.”
Until recently, most Christian churches, Catholic and Protestant, agreed with King Solomon. Even the United Church of Canada was no exception. In the “Twenty Articles of Doctrine” adopted by this denomination at its founding in 1925, the United Church asserted: “The moral law of God, summarized in the Ten Commandments, testified to by the prophets, and unfolded in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, stands for ever in truth and equity.”
At its founding, the United Church of Canada also affirmed the continuing validity of the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith as an authoritative guide to understanding the Ten Commandments within the context of the Bible as a whole. On this basis, the United Church used to insist that the Commandment “Thou shalt not kill,” requires Christians “to do our best to make every lawful effort to preserve our own life and the lives of others.”
Meanwhile, of course, the United Church of Canada has long since forsaken its foundational beliefs. In 2006, the church went so far as to supplant the Westminster Confession of Faith and its own Twenty Articles of Doctrine with a radically new “Statement of Faith,” which contains no reference to any of the Ten Commandments. Correspondingly, the United Church has developed a radically new and incoherent set of moral guidelines that still purports to “affirm the inherent value of human life,” yet inconsistently approves of both abortion and euthanasia as “a faithful option in certain circumstances.”
In the meantime, the Anglican, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches have likewise abandoned reason, faith, and their own traditions in favor of reason alone as a guide to morality. And in so doing, leaders of all these denominations have also endorsed the non-Christian maxims of secular morality on everything from abortion and euthanasia to same-sex marriage.
What has been the payoff? Despite having conformed their thinking to the current pattern of the world on almost all key moral issues, these trendy churches are fast declining in membership to the point of extinction.
In contrast, the Catholic Church and many of the Evangelical churches are continuing to uphold the traditional teachings of Judeo-Christian morality. However, even among these churches, there are worrisome signs that some theologians are giving way to secular reasoning on questions of morality.
Thus, in documents prepared for the recent Youth Synod of the Catholic Church, there is much talk of morality, but no mention of the Ten Commandments. In discussing promiscuity, pornography and other forms of sexual immorality, the final document of the Synod warns: “These phenomena … constitute an obstacle for a serene maturation. They indicate unprecedented social dynamics, which influence personal experiences and choices, making them the territory of a sort of ideological colonization.”
In contrast to the theologians who served up this obscurantist prose, Pope John Paul II was a model of clarity. In an open letter to the youth of the world in 1985, he began by recalling the young man who asked Jesus: “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” As John Paul noted, Jesus first responded, “No one is good but God alone” and then said: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honour your father and mother’.”
John Paul explained that in saying to the young man that, “No one is good but God alone” Jesus meant to suggest: “Only God is the ultimate basis of all values; only He gives the definitive meaning to our human existence. When God is removed from evaluations of good and evil, then evil is put forward as good, and good itself is rejected.”
Is that not the truth? Relying on reason alone, secular thinkers in the 1960s put forward legalized abortion as good with the result that abortionists have slaughtered so many babies in the womb over the past five decades that the very survival of what remains of our Judeo-Christian civilization is in peril.
Today, many of the same proponents of legalized abortion recklessly assure us that there will be no adverse, long-term consequences from legalized euthanasia, pornography, prostitution and same-sex marriage. All such assurances are worthless. By now, it should be evident that the world has too long been riddled with well-meaning idealists who replace the time-tested moral truths of the Bible with new and supposedly better secular values that actually end up resulting in the most appalling calamities.