Moral Knowledge

In discussing moral knowledge, I begin with the presupposition that the Judeo-Christian God exists as the one, true, eternal, holy, morally perfect, omniscient, omnipotent creator of the universe. Thus, I will also presuppose that because God exists objective moral values exist. I recognize that the use of modus tollens which posits that objective moral values do exist and therefore God exist could also be used as part of the argument, but I prefer to start with metaphysical ontology and then move to the Theo-drama of redemption which culminates in the life and ministry of Jesus.

The Triune God performed his part of the Theo-drama by creating the universe and by creating human beings in his image. When human beings were created, they became a  part of God’s redemptive drama, and thus they became actors (participants) in the storied community. Since human beings were created in the image of God, they have moral epistemological and pragmatic capabilities, but they have to learn the moral language of the divine actor. For example, the Israelites had to learn and live the language of “Shema” (Deut 6:4-9) and to embody holiness as God is Holy (Lev 11:44-45). They developed moral knowledge, virtue and character by being in the storied community.

Likewise, when Jesus was asked about the most important commandment, he spoke the language of the storied community of God by referring back to the virtue of love that was to be embodied in God’s community people (Mark 12:28-34, Matt 22:35-40). Moreover, Jesus connected his teaching with the language of past narratives by often saying, “You have heard that it was said…but I say to you… (Matt 5). Jesus was inaugurating new kingdom language, virtue and character that was to be learned and embodied by those of the Jesus community. The kingdom of God has come upon us in the life and ministry of Jesus. He is the King of the already-not yet in full kingdom of God. In this paradox, moral ethics takes place. His “kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” He is the one who we must look to for moral knowledge, virtue and character. Through his redemptive suffering, death and resurrection, we can enter the Theo-drama where we can also learn and embody the language, virtue and character of our redeemer.

After Jesus’ ascension, the Jesus community had to wait for the Holy Spirit who would come and continue Jesus’ ministry on earth. The Holy Spirit empowered and instilled moral knowledge, virtue and character to the early Jesus community and eventually orchestrated the completion of the divine drama script (scripture). The Holy Spirit continues to perform his part of the Theo-drama by leading the church community in kingdom virtue and ministry. Thus, through the acting of the Holy Spirit, we as the storied people of God can have moral knowledge, virtue and character of God, but this only takes place within the storied community of God. We can not have God’s moral knowledge, virtue and character independently or in isolation, but rather these are formed through narrative and language within community.

Thus, as the storied people of God, we can speak the divine language and enact the drama in new and contextualized ways. By entering and participating in the drama, we will be formed with the character, virtue and morality of Christ. From this perspective, people can rise above mere human language and culture by looking to the history of Israel and the Church and entering into this storied community while speaking and living according to God’s morality.