1 & 2 Kings Part One Deep Dive
RIGHT OR WRONG? | RYAN KERRISON
The books 1 & 2 Kings contain some of the worst, most evil rulers in the Old Testament canon. However, God remains faithful, not only to provide a remnant but to turn poor situations into a place of grace, prophecy and revival. The plight of the disintegrating kingdom raises the question of morality. This week we’re going to delve quite deeply into some moral ideas and arguments relating to our focal books, so let’s jump in.
This question of morality is one that occupies much discussion within scholarship, both sacred and secular. The ontological (foundational) source of morality itself tends to function as the focal point of the debate; wherein, depending on the worldview, a deistic being may or may not exist. It is into this area that this Deep Dive will attempt to speak, or at least develop a framework for engaging with those intrigued by this topic, and building a case for the curious believer.
An introductory argument, which happens to be one of the most compelling for the existence of God: universal moral inclination, or the idea that the value of right and wrong does not shift. This argument can be used to reject the typical ‘post-modern’ perspective of subjective moral values, in favour of a moral basis which is fixed and unshakable. The argument, arranged by Christian apologist William Lane Craig, runs like this:
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
2. Objective moral values do exist.
3. Therefore, God exists.
This supposes something known as a ‘Moral Law Giver'. For a Christian, this is the God of the Bible, established in the Old Testament, and revealed through Christ and the Spirit in the New. The notion involved here is that regardless of shifts in societies, culture or humanity, there remains an objective moral basis, that when understood in light of the nature and work of the Triune God, enables the believer to know the heart of God when considering ethical challenges, or discerning individual’s motives. Engineering arguments for the existence of God may seem uncomfortable, or even strange – like planning a surprise party with the guest honour in the room. The purpose of this argument is not for the exclusive purpose of rationalising a relationship with God but as an antidote to the persistent questions that inevitably pop up as one walks further along the road less traveled. With these considerations in place, the implication arises: before accusing the God of Christianity of unethical or immoral conduct, one presupposes a standard of morality. Simply put, by asserting an evil, one admits the existence of good. From there rises an objective law, or point of moral reference. This circles back on the idea of a moral law-giver. Denying this requires the rejection of a being akin to the Christian God and the subsequent link to morality. The leap is made from ontology (the nature of all reality) to epistemology (the study of knowledge, and its acquisition). Bringing this back to a biblically faithful paradigm, the God portrayed in the Old Testament did not rely on a society, or a subjective foundation of morality, but rather the ought-ness located inside God’s character, instructions and promptings.
This is the standard by which Yahweh held the differing kings raised up to places of authority in the book of Kings. He provided prophets, through whom His people would realise the Person in which goodness is located, over and against the morality of humanity or her leaders. Yahweh is the God of perfect justice and righteousness, refusing to embody anything less than moral perfection, while faithfully committed to the preservation of His creation, the revelation of His perfect Law, and ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus.
These ideas of morality and it’s source can be difficult to wrap your mind around, so just take your time and consider these concepts as you continue on your adventure through 1 & 2 Kings.