Answering 05: The Moral Sphere

You don’t have to take me seriously, but I am so confident in my message that I’m willing to stand alone against all of humanity at the same time. Insane or not, I assert without a hint of embarrassment that my conscious awareness is directly connected to the moral fabric woven into Creation. I am vividly in tune with reality as God made it.

My intellect struggles to keep up. I struggle to find ways to express this stuff. I does not surprise me in the least that the vast majority of folks who read my blog can’t quite connect with the concept of a moral sphere of reality, because while I am certain I got it, I’m not certain I can tell you. On the other hand, I’m quite certain you’ll discover it on your own terms, maybe even despite my writing, because it flows from the Holy Spirit. Near as I can figure, all I’m doing is helping you bring it farther into your conscious mind so you can bend your own intellect to the task of serving God.

The genuine truth of God could never be merely propositional. God is a Person and truth is rather like His skin. Truth is a part of Him you can’t simply abstract away and study without doing some violence that kills it. You don’t get truth without God; you can’t know truth as an object separate from God.

In other words, truth is not some understanding based on facts. Reason can’t get you to truth. You cannot make truth an objective in itself. You can either know God or be false in yourself. That’s because truth is inherently moral in nature. It’s the fundamental question of what is right and wrong, not what’s factual. Factual is subject to revision at God’s whim, but morality is His own character. So if someone brings to you a body of teaching and they wrap it up in moral garbage, they are lying. Western rational analysis is inherently wrong by assuming that truth can be objectified despite the packaging. Package and content cannot be separated. Truth is personal character.

This is not a question of whether flawed men and women can teach God’s moral truth. There aren’t any other kinds of men and women available on this earth; all are flawed. That’s not the question here. The question is to what degree their presentation is dirtied by their human flaws. We are cautioned in Scripture quite plainly that it’s not a matter of artistry or clarity of content, but the moral flow. Truth could never be packaged in the words themselves; truth is measured by the broader impact of the message. If the net effect sets you free to find your own path, there’s not much harm. If the effect of the message is to bind you to another human’s “expertise,” it’s a lie by definition.

Sometimes people can read the paragraphs above, and while they grasp it intellectually to some degree, they can’t make it work. The hardest truth for people to grasp in our English-speaking world is the nature of truth. If you come to me with a message and I can’t sense the moral presence of my God, I’m not going to buy it. There is no objective measure here. It’s personal and that’s the nature of truth. Nathan verbally body-slammed King David with the accusation regarding Bathsheba. David’s moral failure was a serious problem, but you’ll notice that David was responsive at some level and agreed that Nathan was right. Painful it was, but it was truth. Nathan’s message set David free from his own sin. While I’m hardly in David’s league, if you can establish the same level of moral character in your approach to me, I will be morally captured by the truth itself. You will have brought the Person of my Lord and I can’t reject Him.

It was not in Nathan’s words. It was in the moral power of Nathan’s message using whatever the words might have been. It was in Nathan himself. The words were mere symbols, signposts for David to explore something he had been avoiding.

And all of that is psychobabble to a mind still chained in the dungeon of Western rationalism. The previous post in this series pointed out that you and I cannot make someone understand this stuff. We can only offer it. Had King David been a lesser man morally, he could have rejected Nathan as impertinent and tossed him out. So the issue is not the facts, but the moral impact of what we say and do. A preacher who rips at that moral fabric by elevating himself as some special source of insight is a liar. Sharing a word from God is not a matter of data content, but moral content.

So we realize that the hardest thing to do is help people grasp the notion of this “parallel universe” right here alongside the one we all live in together, an “alternate reality” that is moral in nature. When I look at events around me, I don’t see the same thing as those with no heart-mind awareness. I see fundamental moral questions, not facts to be leveraged for some imaginary improvement of life. The morality of the West is materialistic in nature, and denies the God of the Bible a priori. If His claims do not conform to the moral apprehensions of the Western rational mind, then the claims must be rejected. They don’t match the apparent facts. We reverse that; we say that what’s apparent is a matter of mere shadows. The factual world is fake, a mass deception. What Western minds see as “reality” is for us not so real, only apparent. We don’t trust our own senses, nor our own reasoning about what we sense, because we know that sense and reason can never escape the fallen desires of the human self.

I invested a great deal of time and resources studying the core nature of Western Civilization. I’m not establishing myself as an expert, just trying to save you some time and money. Feel free to replicate my explorations for yourself; go farther if you like. Maybe I can dig up the curriculum for you — it would be pretty expensive these days. I could not have bought all those books without a generous financial aid package (common in those days). My point is that I became quite sensitive to the nature of the West first from within its own frame of reference. But then I spent an awful lot of time and other people’s money studying other civilizations and began to compare. I’ve developed a very strong awareness of Western against other traditions. And I can tell you that when it comes to serving God, the West is the worst. It sucks big time, and I’m doing all I can to escape it. Serving God also puts limits on what I can do in terms of that rejection, but that focus shows up strongly on this blog.

I’ve had enough of the West, thank you. I’d like to get closer to God. So you feel free to examine all you like of Western stuff, but if you ask me to comment on any of it, you should know what to expect. At the point where a speaker or writer sounds too Western, I’m done with them. The whole thing is morally objectionable. Whatever content may be packaged in their presentation makes no difference, because it arises from moral sewage. How many flavors of stink do you want? I’ll try to help you see my objections, but the whole point of this blog is to help you climb out of that. Not because my answer is the only right one, but because I am morally bound to give the answer I have.

But the one thing I hope you see is that I set the moral example of finding your own firm footing. I know where I am supposed to stand; do you know where you are supposed to stand? We can’t begin to answer a questioning world if we don’t at least have a solid anchoring point in our souls.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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11 Responses to Answering 05: The Moral Sphere

  1. forrealone says:

    “We can’t begin to answer a questioning world if we don’t at least have a solid anchoring point in our souls.”

    Absolutely AMEN. And that point must be centered on one thing alone: TRUTH

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  2. Mr. T. says:

    That was quite enlightening. I must admit that actually understanding not to mention applying this kind of stuff “in real life” is not that easy. Sometimes feels intimidaring.

    I think I have improved massively in the moral sphere, but only relatively speaking; over 30 years of Western thinking and worldview do persist. And like most Westerners morality was/is something of an afterthought often. (“Just the facts!”)

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  3. Mr. T. says:

    “That’s because truth is inherently moral in nature.”

    I’m just getting confused at the term truth because there are so many ideas of it in philosophy etc.

    Could you come up with a better word or should we change the terms some other way (for example the “true proposition truth” into something else)?

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  4. Ed Hurst says:

    Could you come up with a better word or should we change the terms some other way (for example the “true proposition truth” into something else)?

    On point, Mr. T. Because of how English works as a language, it’s all too easy to abuse and pervert the meaning. Rather than use that word, let’s reach for better terms; it goes back to Aristotle’s blather about epistemology and tests of validity. His tests were analytical and rational; he looked for propositional statements. The implication is seeking something he could defend with reason as tested against sensory reality. It was the foundation of scientific inquiry; I’m sure you’ve encountered the common rules for that. Most of it implied the question of what was worth our time and resources: What can we do with this? What is valid so that I can act on it with some sensible expectation of consistency?

    There are plenty of folks who are content to search for a valid analysis for its own sake, but the only reason people cling to this epistemology is because of the material rewards. So the real issue isn’t so much what Aristotle said, but the net results of his influence. Someone said that it’s not what Aristotle taught, but what he wrought. The West is not so consciously Aristotelian an any academic sense, but broadly Aristotelian in effect. I’m sure he would be quite unhappy with how his work has been used, but holding to a purity of Aristotelian thought is academic.

    But I say that you cannot evaluate the validity of that epistemology from within itself. That is, if you evaluate Western Civilization by Western moral assumptions, you don’t prove anything. You have to find some way to stand outside of it, and this is something that angers a lot folks, even when they can be maneuvered into admitting the logic of it. I’ve had my fill of two-bit scholars pretending to defend Aristotle as they imagined him. But very few people have come to this blog to defend Western thinking; everyone simply assumes it and gets hostile when you pick at it, denying that the question is even pertinent. The world is full of people who refuse to consider any a priori biases. There are precious few scholars on this planet prepared to stand outside of Western Civilization in order to discuss it. They are out there, but most of them aren’t online. Instead, every where we go seeking a fresh approach, we find our feet slipping back down into that swamp because people who claim to rise above it are actually building up from it. Some of my closest associates in this field of endeavor, including genuine professors of theology and such, insist that their ideas are not based on Western assumptions. But then they rely on the mechanism of inquiry that Aristotle proposed, a mechanism not found outside the West in any of the previous or current cultures.

    If that’s as far as you can go, then “truth” will still take the same basic shape and you will not find the character of God as a living Person. Obviously I understand Aristotle, but I don’t revere him. It’s not that his approach and his implied questions were missing from the Ancient Near East, but that they didn’t consider such an approach important. He ignores the fundamental question every heart asks: What is morally good and right? Aristotle was not ignorant; he was aware of the philosophical approach from a great many cultures in his part of the world. Their scholars came to Athens during Aristotle’s tenure there. He rejected all of them, because they all shared that fundamental question of how we can reconnect to our eternal destiny. They all varied on how the conceptualized it, but they all agreed that this was the proper question. Aristotle’s teaching effectively denied that such a question was even worth our time.

    His entire approach presumed that all existence (that mattered) was within the reach of man’s senses and reason. I can’t count how often different philosophy professors characterized his cosmology as a unitary universe. Every culture within reach of him insisted there was at least one other dimension of existence, but his teaching denies that. And as a result of people learning his stuff, we have a whole era of Church History where the dominant thread of teaching flatly denies that the intellect is fallen (as with Thomism). If the intellect is perfectible, there is no need to search for the heart-mind.

    The hear-mind does not deal in facts, but morality. The heart is the part of us that hears God; He does not address Himself to the intellect. You can call it whatever you like, but the ultimate question humans need to ask is what is morally good and right.

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  5. forrealone says:

    John 14:6 Jesus said, ” I am the way, the truth and the light”. Doesn’t get much clearer than that. Jesus IS the truth. Period. End of explanation.

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  6. Mr. T. says:

    So basically maybe the best way to go forward would be to replace the materialistic Western concept of “truth” with another word?

    Like “Sense-Intellect Correspondence” or something else? And avoid the word truth that lacks moral qualities/implications?

    Or could we borrow some Hebrew word to use as God’s moral truth and leave the normal intellectual truth for fallen uses?

    Goes a bit analytical and linguistic but could be helpful? Or…?

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  7. Mr. T. says:

    “If you come to me with a message and I can’t sense the moral presence of my God, I’m not going to buy it.”

    How about “1 + 1 = 2” or that “sky is blue” presented badly? I am not trying to be flippant here, just to clarify things.

    Analytical/logical truths — Simple facts — Complex forms continuum? Or is my whole perspective missing something? (Quite likely.)

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  8. Ed Hurst says:

    There’s nothing wrong with the word “truth” once we agree to a better meaning for it. I simply tried to show we don’t have to use the word at all. How you then take that message to the rest of the world requires a contextual sensitivity and a willingness to try explaining. That’s the purpose of this series on “Answering.”

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  9. Ed Hurst says:

    Context is everything. If someone attempts to discuss faith (like Dan Duval) and lacks the genuine moral authority of humility, I’m not going to listen. His message didn’t set my heart free; he was trying to pull me under his authority. Thus, it won’t matter if he put “1 + 1 = 2” in his message because he has nothing important to say; I can get facts better from other sources. This is how verbal seduction works, using information as the means to a moral transgression. And we have this sarcastic comment in our culture: “If so-n-so tells me the sky is blue, I’m going outside to check for myself.” I can verify the sky is blue, but I can’t verify a lot of stuff people might want me to believe, particularly if the intent of the message is little more than blowing his own horn. I hope you can see I’m doing just the opposite by asking folks to verify things for themselves. I’m hardly the only guy who does that; I learned it from someone else.

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  10. Mr. T. says:

    By the way I’m sorry if I miss all the points. I fell like an idiot half the time trying to tackle this. I think this is complex enough that you have to read it and read it again to understand. And realistically if you’re not me it might not be necessary at all.

    The Hebrew word for truth is “emet” and I think this second search result (“ Hebrew Word of the Week: Emet“) gives a pretty good overview. “The Hebrew view of God is that of a Living Person, a Spoken Word, and a Fiery Breath that broods over the events of the physical world.”

    Now how to get this to sink in practically…

    Faith after all is simple, only this intellectual material is difficult with all the fancy words and book learning. I mean, for most of history most people didn’t even have their own Bible’s not to mention the ability to read. And the Gospel still got around the globe.

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  11. Ed Hurst says:

    Precisely; the message was written on the heart as moral conviction. See today’s post on Freedom.

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