Barna study: A new moral code in America

JP: Posted because it is newsworthy and because it presents the challenges that we (and particularly young adults) face in our world! See a further comment below the blockquote.

Young Adults and Liberals Struggle with Morality


Researchers asked adults which, if any, of eight behaviors with moral overtones they had engaged in during the past week. The behaviors included exposure to pornography, using profanity in public, gambling, gossiping, engaging in sexual intercourse with someone to whom they were not married, retaliating against someone, getting drunk, and lying. A majority of adults had engaged in at least one of those eight behaviors during the past week.

One of the most stunning outcomes from the Barna survey was the moral pattern among adults under 25. The younger generation was more than twice as likely as all other adults to engage in behaviors considered morally inappropriate by traditional standards. Their choices made even the Baby Boomers – never regarded as a paragon of traditional morality – look like moral pillars in comparison.

According to George Barna, who directed the survey, the results reflect a significant shift in American life.

“We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America,” said the researcher and author, who has been surveying national trends in faith and morality for more than a quarter-century. “Mosaics have had little exposure to traditional moral teaching and limited accountability for such behavior. The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them – the Baby Busters – pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents – the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.

“The consistent deterioration of the Bible as the source of moral truth has led to a nation where people have become independent judges of right and wrong, basing their choices on feelings and circumstances. It is not likely that America will return to a more traditional moral code until the nation experiences significant pain from its moral choices.”

Ephesians 5:1-7: “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.”


Reinventing God in the postmodern age

JP: Albert Mohler, Jr reviews and critiques The Plausible God: Secular Reflections on Liberal Jewish Theology and warns of the dangers of postmodern thought!

Albert Mohler, Jr: New God or No God? The Peril of Making God Plausible


What kind of god would be plausible in this postmodern age? Taken by itself, that question represents the great divide between those who believe in the God of the Bible and those who see the need to reinvent a deity more acceptable to the modern mind.

After all, the answer to that question would reveal a great deal about the postmodern mind, and nothing about God himself. Unless, that is, you believe that God is merely a philosophical concept, and not the self-existent, self-defining God of the Bible.

the “God” of much popular belief is hardly more theistic. “With all the particulars left unspecified,” Silver asserts, “our public theism is probably a riot of equivocations in which there are many new-God beliefs among the rioters.”

God is reduced to “deep feelings, fundamental values, basic attitudes, and humane hopes.” Many modern people, including both Jews and many who identify as Christians, have, as Rabbi Jonathan Gerard related, “merely lost faith in an older and unacceptable notion of God.”

The new God is a philosophical concept that its proponents use to ground a potential for goodness in the world. When believers in the new God speak of God in personal terms, they do so metaphorically. One key insight in Silver’s book is his argument that even secular people need to express gratitude in personal terms. As he explains, “God-talk may be the only language adequate for the expression of certain emotions.” Speaking of a personal God in this sense is a “trope” or “just a manner of speaking.”

The new God becomes “whatever there is in nature that makes good things possible.” But, lest we over-read this statement, Silver adds: “God has no will, intentions, or desires.” In no sense is the new God a personal God. This God is a principle, a concept; not a person.

The God of the Bible is dismissed as a rational impossibility. Supernaturalism is itself ruled out of bounds within the closed box of the materialist worldview. Many would go further and argue that the God of the Bible is immoral — ethnocentric, violent, and oppressive. But all this goes away with the new God, who is not a person, does not need to “exist,” has no will or intentions, does not intervene in history, and is thus not morally accountable at all. The new God is not an agent who acts, and thus cannot be an immoral agent.

The old God, the God of the Bible, the God described by Silver as the “God of our fathers,” is simply not plausible. Thus, as Silver eloquently suggests, modern secular people turn “from the God of our fathers to the God of our friends.”