Featured Post

Evangelical Atheists

My most recent posts have hit Evangelical Christianity pretty hard. While I certainly believe that my observations were warranted by the fac...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Does God expect blind obedience?

Most Christians would not even have to think about their answer to that question. For many, the answer would be an easy "YES." Nevertheless, this writer believes that a reflexive answer is inappropriate for responding to this question. In this connection, I would ask the reader to consider the following points:

Why did God give us the ability to reason? If God expects unquestioning obedience, why did "He" give us minds to process and evaluate information? Why did God instill within us intellectual curiosity? If God expects blind obedience, do we really have the ability to make any decisions or choices? In the final analysis, is the only real question one of whether or not we will obey God?

When the former officials of the Nazi regime were placed on trial at Nuremberg, many of their responses to questions about their behavior relative to the roles they played within Hitler's Germany inevitably involved some version of the doctrine of Superior Orders. In other words, "I was only following the orders of my superior(s)."

Unfortunately for them, this defense had already been rendered inadequate by the Charter of the International Military Tribunal that governed the conduct of their trial as war criminals. Article 8 of that Charter states: "The fact that the defendant acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility, but may be considered in mitigation of punishment if the Tribunal determine that justice so requires." (http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/nuremberg/NurembergIndictments.html)

"But you're talking about humans blindly obeying orders from other humans," some will protest. "Aren't Divine commands different from human orders? they will ask.

Divine commands certainly are superior to human commands (Matthew 15:3-9 and Acts 5:29), but does that really address the question we asked at the beginning?

Consider the behavior of the religious leaders of Christ's day. They were experts regarding the legal ins and outs of God's laws. They were constantly confronting Jesus and his disciples about technical infractions of God's laws.

God's commandment to remember and honor the Sabbath day by refraining from any and all work on that day is a case in point. (Exodus 20:8-11) On one occasion, they pointed out that they had observed Christ's disciples plucking some grain from a field as they walked along. Technically, harvesting grain is a violation of the prohibition against working on the Sabbath, but Christ pointed out that the Pharisees were violating the principle behind the law by interpreting its application so narrowly. (Matthew 12:1-8)

Immediately following that incident, Christ entered a synagogue and healed a man with a withered hand. Once again, they charged him with working on the Sabbath day. Once again, Christ appealed to the spiritual intent of the law and told them that doing good on the day did not violate the original intent of the commandment. (Matthew 12:9-13) So we see that the Pharisees' blind obedience of God's laws was clearly inadequate in Christ's eyes. In fact, Christ said that the righteousness of his followers would have to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees. (Matthew 5:20)

Could it be that God wants us to understand "His" rationale for making those laws and the spiritual principles behind them? Jesus said, "When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.'" (Luke 17:10) Clearly, blind obedience is not enough.

Anyone who has ever bothered to read through the Psalms knows that God values those who meditate or think about "His" laws, precepts and works. (Psalm 1:2, 63:6, 77:12, 119:15, 23, 48,78, 148, 143:5) God wants us to examine, question and consider all of the angles and implications - Blind obedience is not good enough!

Paul said that the Bereans were more noble than the saints at Thessalonica because they "searched the scriptures daily" to see if what the apostle was telling them was consistent with what they read. (Acts 17:10-11) Clearly, Paul did not feel that blind acceptance was as valuable as reasoned acceptance. Maybe that was a part of his reasoning when he told the Romans to "Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind?" (Romans 14:5)

Brethren, we don't want to be like the man in the parable who took what was entrusted to his care and kept it safe and sound until his master returned. God wants us to take what we've been given and run with it. (Matthew 25: 14-30 and Luke 19:11-26)

1 comment:

  1. A friend shared with me this quote from Galileo Galilei:
    "I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use."

    ReplyDelete