I am unfortunately fascinated and sadly amused by the “man-on-the-street” videos in which people (often college students) are asked relatively basic questions about history, current events, geography, government, etc., affording them opportunity to demonstrate that a significant cross-section of the American public is mournfully uninformed. I watched a jaw-dropper recently regarding the meaning of the Fourth of July, which ended as a man with a thick foreign accent offered an accurate explanation after many failed attempts by Vespuccilanders. However, that’s not the topic of this entry, though it is about being uninformed.
I want to highlight an area of intellectual comprehension that is not only lacking but the knowledge of its lacking is lacking. Even more, though the language is sometimes employed, a grasp of its meaning is generally shallow or misguided. And it’s not the intellectual value of this comprehension-gone-missing that concerns me most, but the practical consequences being produced in its void. What is it? It is an understanding of, maybe even just the fact that there is no concern for the understanding of, the nature of moral agency, moral law and moral government. The very word “moral” has a limited (though correct) definition in the minds of most. It is generally limited to “a good person” – “He is a moral person,” or “She has good morals.” However, thoughts rarely involve the idea that a person could not be a good person without the very presence of moral agencies or moral capabilities.
The marvelous, mysterious, God-given human will; its strange incipiency and self-governing nature, its ability to originate its own motion, its own action is rarely contemplated, discussed or taught. A major function of moral agency, the God-given human will is often dismissed as an affront to God’s sovereignty; the God who sovereignly chose to equip an order of beings with such.
We seem to live in an age that is influenced by many forms of determinism – economic, Divine, environmental, genetic, and a host of variations of deterministic, fatalistic concepts subtly persuades the assumptions and opinions of many. Clouded by these vague deterministic concepts, we assume we are simply swept along on a stream of coercion and causation masquerading as choice. We invent linguistic zig-zags and tag them with impressive names like compatibalism. There is a Biblical balance to embrace regarding that which is determined and that which is free. We cannot fit life into one or the other (determinism or freedom), nor can we simply say that all acts are both, at the same time, caused and free.
In upcoming entries, I will attempt, with Biblical data, the thoughts of important past and present people and personal observation, to unpack, hopefully, helpful information regarding moral agency (capacities), moral law, moral government.