The Broad Array of Moral Concepts

“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”                                                (Jn. 1:14)

            If the Bible and Christians contend that Jesus Christ is the blemish-free, Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…that He was perfect and without sin during His life and ministry on earth, by what or by whose standard do we judge the existence of this alleged perfect moral character in any person?

            How would we determine that the life of Jesus was at the outer edge of moral perfection, at the peak and the pinnacle of absolute goodness and virtue having no additional room or space at the highest top-most point of the vertical, graduated spectrum-line of virtue and morality, of brilliant pure light and absolute goodness having no room for further improvement?

            What would explain the existence of the diverse categories of moral criteria defining virtue, of the numerous moral concepts broken down into individual words as abstract thoughts accessible to human contemplation that would enable and support a valid determination of the moral credentials of Jesus Christ?

            And finally, where would our highly-advanced capacity to comprehend, to divide, separate-out, and parse these varied conceptual virtues and vices consisting of finely differentiated realities that are true-to-life…come from? 

            Where would this uniquely human capacity originate from, seeing that it does not exist anywhere else in the animal world and therefore cannot plausibly be attributed to a common descent, naturalistic explanation for its origin extending seamlessly from animal instinct to human intellect?

            In short, is this current planet earth the perfect environment to conduct research explorations into the knowledge of good and evil, using the lens of a fallen moral nature that is crucified alongside Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary…redeemed fully so that believers in Christ can with impunity and without risk to our eternal salvation…enter into journeys of faith by picking-up our own cross to follow Jesus Christ into an adventure beyond our initial imagination?

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts are too deep for a naturalistic explanation for their origin

            Leaving aside the recent modern recognition in philosophy that the human mind…when reduced down to only a material “brain” made up of circuits and neurons…devolves into a nonsensical relativism that undermines confidence in the reliability of all human thought, and thereby destroys rationality, scientific investigation, and even philosophies such as atheism itself.

            Yet by simply asking the question and examining the evidence, this in and of itself declares at the outset that Jesus Christ the person we are investigating…is in fact within the zone of moral perfection and sinless virtue by reason of the question being seriously entertained at all. 

            We would not even open such an investigation into the life of any other exceptional person…past or present…because we already correctly acknowledge that only one person in all of history has made a credible, serious claim to have lived a perfect life, and that one person is Jesus Christ.  

            No sane person in all of recorded history has made a viable and well-substantiated claim to embody and demonstrate the moral attributes of brilliant pure light, absolute goodness, and perfect virtue…of being, speaking, and acting like a Deity…proactively anticipated for centuries in the biblical Old Testament messianic prophecies and documented and fulfilled later in the life, teaching, and ministry of Jesus Christ recorded in the New Testament gospels.

            This raises the probing apologetics question into the divine origin of the composition of the Bible, Old Testament Judaism, and New Testament Christianity…of how…in the first place we would “come by” the capacity to accurately judge whether the life and ministry of Jesus Christ exhausts the extent of the possible outer-limits of moral perfection.

            How would we determine that our current tool-kit of known virtuous characteristics…of well-defined moral attributes…is absolutely exhaustive, adequate, and complete enough for the in-depth moral reasoning needed to evaluate the life of Jesus Christ? 

            How would we know whether there are not some additional, outstanding moral characteristics that we are unaware of…in this current earthly context…above and beyond those demonstrated and exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ that would raise the bar higher, that would call into question the impeccable qualifications of Jesus to be the blemish-free and sinless atoning sacrifice for our sins?

            The point here is not whether God has some additional, divine characteristics applicable in heaven that would not concern us presently…that are not relevant here on earth…but whether or not Jesus the Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7) exhausts the limits of moral perfection as the God/man in order to qualify as the Passover Lamb of God, one-time atoning sacrifice for sin.

            The question is how this full and varied palette of morals had an origin and came into existence within the reality of human life…to be able to make this assessment.

            The important point in this discussion is the fantastic notion that we would have the moral reasoning tools in terms of human mental capacity, but also in the corresponding complement in the broad array of abstract moral concepts defined in discrete and distinctive words…to be able to make a valid decision for or against salvation faith in Jesus Christ…at this highly advanced level.

            The mere existence of this question removes the key component of naturalistic materialism utilizing the concept of incrementally gradualistic development…because of the easily recognizable wealth of complex and finely differentiated concepts defining moral characteristics within personal relationships…that are a fundamental and established part of the human reasoning capacity from the dawn of human history.

            The critical human invention of writing as one tell-tale indicator of human intellectual progress is dated to as recent a time as 3,200 B.C. in the wedge-shaped cuneiform lettering of Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the cuneiform alphabet in Syria around 2,000 B.C., and in the 22-sign Phoenician alphabet dated around 1,000 B.C.

            The Greeks adopt the Phoenician writing script around 800 B.C.   

            The invention of human writing, of widespread, functional written communication of complex and specified information that locks into time-and-place the human capacity for mature and fully developed moral reasoning…starts only 5,200 years ago.

            We do not have to be a professional anthropologist, sociologist, paleontologist, biologist, or historian to know that there exist no contemporary, eye-witness, written accounts by human authors of the retreat of the Ice-Age glaciers covering the northern continents of America and Europe starting around 12,000 to 10,000 B.C.

            There are no written, eye-witness accounts by the actual participants of humans battling wholly mammoths or saber-toothed tigers during the Pleistocene Ice-Age time-period, prior to the invention of writing, using the letters of an alphabet.

            Are we then to uncritically swallow whole the theoretical paradigm of incrementally gradualistic development as an explanation for the origin of sophisticated and discretely defined moral characteristics…the small step-by-step progressive gradualism proposed by the atheistic philosophy of naturalistic materialism in support of Darwinian macroevolution…still prevalent as a competing worldview narrative today?

            Mindless, undirected, gradualistic development of the capacity for moral reasoning would have left a clearly discernable trail in recorded human history going back for hundreds of thousands of years.

            The great advances in recent history that define the modern Scientific Revolution and the two major Industrial Revolutions are not the product of gradual improvements in the macro-evolution of human mental capacity…broken-up into small steps going back in a linear incline tens or hundreds of thousands of years. 

            These rapid advances of development in modern science and technology are the product of the progressing accumulations of information…an abstract, non-material entity produced by thinking minds and not a discernably progressive material development of the brain.

            Rapid, positive progression over recent time in human intelligence is not a factor as an explanation for the advancements of learning, technology, and the explosive expansion of knowledge over the last three to four decades…called the new Information Age…as this would be called a saltation…a miraculous leap forward as defined in biology.

            Like the sudden appearance of complex life-forms during the Cambrian Explosion 530 million years ago, without the sign of any transitional intermediate precursors found in the Precambrian rock strata, the sudden appearance of human intelligence and the capacity for advanced moral reasoning is extremely brief in relation to the 4.5-billion year age of the earth…and is too sudden in time to be explained by gradualism needing hundreds of thousands of years of development.

            Dr. John Lennox, Oxford mathematician and author suggests in some of his interviews and discussions online on the Internet that the sudden immergence of human intellectual and moral reasoning capacity might be considered another example of being a singularity in the same manner as the Big-Bang creation of the universe, and the sudden immergence of life on earth.

            The mental capacity to technologically problem-solve at the advanced level to take us to the moon in 1969…and the moral reasoning capacity to differentiate and comprehend complex moral concepts…are two realities that define the essence of human beings.

            The point here is that human beings possess a complete and exhaustive array of tools within the broad assortment of moral concepts from which to make an intelligent and reasoned judgment as to the divine quality of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

            Just as orderliness and intelligibility are indispensably coordinated with our human capacity to conduct successful scientific investigation of the natural world, it would be pointless to be presented with the decision-making imperative regarding the truth-claims of Jesus Christ regarding His qualifications as Savior, King, and eternal Ruler if humans did not possess the incredible capacity to make an informed decision.

            Is it therefore more plausible to recognize that the origin of the entire array and panoply of moral characteristics, appearing suddenly and fully defined in scope and range…that this recognition represents a sharp, near-instant vertical upward spike on any conceivable graph-line for the time-duration of the human race, and not anything like incrementally gradualistic development?

            In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul lists some of the positive fruits of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

            Earlier in Galatians 5:19-21, Paul lists some of the negative “works of the flesh”: “Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.”

            To these two lists of moral attributes and characteristics we could add the concepts of truth, honesty, dignity, loyalty, friendliness, honor, humility, dedication, forgiveness, mercy, compassion, humor, flexibility, empathy, forbearance, consideration, self-sacrifice, gratitude, persistence, commitment, discernment, rationality, logical thinking, being organized, being a peace-maker, fairness, generosity, passion…and a number of other distinct and precise words that describe finely differentiated moral characteristics…and that could be expanded further by listing their negative counterparts.

            Why is this important in a book about the biblical narrative in the modern world?

            When anyone who is a born-again Christian, Bible college student, Christian theologian, atheist, skeptic, or curious truth-seeker begins an examination of the perfect and sinless life of Jesus Christ, they are acknowledging the existence of the very tools of the sophisticated and varied concepts available that precisely define moral characteristics that make such an examination possible.

            Such an investigation acknowledges the reality of the broad array of moral concepts that in and of itself argues as compelling evidence for their divine, advanced, and non-material origin (Gen. 1:26-27)…being inconceivable coming from a purely materialistic origin of a human “brain” consisting of circuits and neurons only…a brain manufactured over time according to the accidental, trial-and-error, chance-happenstance process of random and undirected naturalistic materialism.

            Without this complete and exhaustive tool-kit of concepts by which to judge moral characteristics, a personal decision for or against accepting Christ as Savior would fall short of being meaningful…would not have all of the richly differentiated criteria to support a valid decision…one way or the other.

            We could not accurately and realistically produce an oil-painting depiction of a rugged seascape shoreline with waves crashing against rocks…or of forest trees, blue skies, brilliant white clouds, and a peaceful lakeshore…using only three colors. 

            To create a masterpiece landscape painting, we need the full palate…the full array…of oil-paint colors. 

            For a god-less interpretation of reality to be valid…it would require some reasonable explanation for the creative origin of the extremely complex and nuanced definitions of the many words that describe the advanced moral concepts that human beings use and understand every day, that define the essence of what it means to be human, above and beyond the mere yet brilliant hunting skills exhibited through animal instinct.

            The complexity, specificity, and integrated coherence of the life-story of Jesus Christ in support of His being the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for sin, requiring moral perfection within the context of a human life not only requires a reasonable explanation for the origin of this remarkable concept, but also by necessity raises humans up into the elevated zone of being able to cast their informed votes…for or against…the placing of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior, King, and Tour Guide through this life. 

            The three complimentary categories: the existence of the broad array of moral concepts, our capacity for intellectual and moral reasoning, and the divinely composed life-script for Jesus Christ…must all be mature, fully developed, and functionally in-time for the appearance of Jesus Christ into this world…in the first-half of the first-century A.D.

            This discussion opens the door into a better and fuller understanding of the uniqueness of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ…validating the life of Jesus to be at the top-most point of moral perfection.

            As discussed in the previous essay and repeated here for emphasis…one area therefore where we can clearly and unambiguously authenticate the divine nature of Jesus Christ is in His perfect compliance with the biblical concept of God-sovereignty in His life-script and performance.

            On the cross Jesus is demonstrating God-sovereignty actualized to absolute perfection…in staying within His God-composed life-script calling to become the Savior of the world…in purely consistent, non-rebellious, sinless unity-of-purpose within the Godhead of the Trinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

            The divinely brilliant, creative originality of the cross is that Jesus is experiencing the most acute outward display of worldly failure…while at the same time achieving the greatest single accomplishment for mankind in all of history as the Passover Lamb of God atoning sacrifice for sin.

            God combines on the cross two contrasting elements…extreme worldly failure and brilliantly divine success…on the broadest possible range of human experience because the cross at Calvary involves the divine Son of God in a human body (Isa. 7:14, 9:6-7) that no human literary writer could ever imagine or invent.

            Jesus Christ on the cross as the Passover Lamb of God sacrifice for mankind’s sins…in perfect demonstration of God-sovereignty…is such a brilliantly divisive yet subtle issue surgically separating truth from error that many modern Jews even today use this perceived failure of Jesus to be the expected Moses, Joshua, or King David type Messiah ushering-in world peace…as still serving as the main reason for why they reject Jesus Christ as Messiah, disqualifying Him on these grounds alone.

            Many Jews in the first-century and today would say that their Messiah would never suffer the indignity of being crucified by the Romans…of being a curse “hanged on a tree.” (Dt. 21:23; Gal. 3:13).

            As we ourselves stand at the cross looking up at Jesus…we either see the Passover Lamb of God performing His God-composed life-script in perfect God-sovereignty…or we see the worst failure of a person that can be imagined in life, the utter humiliation of first being scourged, then afterwards ending their lives through the shame and defeat of Roman crucifixion.

            As we look up at Jesus hanging on the cross, we either see a life-script that was perfectly written to match the unique capacity of the God/man Jesus Christ to take upon Himself the sins of the world, or we see a life-script that falls so far short of the positive aspects and aspirations of the American Dream ancient or modern…that our best option then is to choose to go our own way in a journey of self, according to the tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and reject Jesus Christ altogether.

            The insightfully piercing dichotomy between the perfect God-sovereignty of Jesus Christ…and the self-sovereignty of going our own way of the religious elites and political rulers in Jerusalem…at the cross…is exposed by God alone as no human literary genius could of being as wide apart as the Grand Canyon.

            God alone has the motivation and the ability to highlight on that day atop Calvary Hill…the huge contrast between self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty…to perfection.

            This is a key element that separates-out for us…amidst the sea of multiple competing narratives…the singularly unique biblical narrative in a modern world.

Author: Barton Jahn

I worked in building construction as a field superintendent and project manager. I have four books published by McGraw-Hill on housing construction (1995-98) under Bart Jahn, and have eight Christian books self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). I have a bachelor of science degree in construction management from California State University Long Beach. I grew up in Southern California, was an avid surfer, and am fortunate enough to have always lived within one mile of the ocean. I discovered writing at the age of 30, and it is now one of my favorite activities. I am currently working on more books on building construction.

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