Two evil principles have bedevilled humanity over the centuries.
One of these evil principles is that we can not work out moral good from moral evil – that we must depend on a higher authority, the state or a religious text, to tell us what is morally right and what is morally evil.
For example if the state, or a religious text, says that slavery is morally right – then it is, because the authority says so. Ditto slaughtering whole towns down to, and including, the babies. Human sacrifice, cannibalism – and so on.
The other evil principle is that even if we could work out moral good from moral evil we could not CHOOSE to do what is morally right against our desire to do evil – as all our actions are predetermined. Even if we follow God or not is, according to this sort of “philosopher” or “theologian”, predetermined. This is called the “bondage of the will” (Martin Will – in his war of words against Erasmus) which holds that humans are like those who suffer from advanced rabies – that there is no way we can choose moral right, that we are totally rabid and can do nothing but evil (unless God, who alone has agency – Free Will, intervenes).
So, for example, if we protested to Mr Luther about his writings against the Jews, in which Mr Luther advocates violent aggression, theft and destruction – Mr Luther could reply, with perfect consistency – that his writings were predetermined (by a series of causes and effects) from the start of the universe and so he is no way morally responsible for his writings. Ditto if Mr Luther personally stole, raped, murdered and so on – again this was all predetermined (by a series of causes and effects) from the start of the universe.
How this doctrine is different from that of mainstream Islam Mr Luther, as far as I know, does not explain. However, as reason is just a “whore” to Mr Luther (to Mr David Hume reason was a “slave” – he was making much the same point), Mr Luther does not need to justify his positions in rational terms. Although he does make one great valid point against the Roman Catholic Erasmus – this point being that no compromise on this matter is logical.
As Mr Luther points out – once one has accepted the doctrine of Predestination of Saint Augustine (and others) determinism naturally follows from it. Later theologians (such as James McCosh) are just mistaken on this point. God knowns, in advance, who will do evil things – because everything was determined (predetermined) at the start of the universe (written into the great book at the start) – so God knows who will live a life of evil (knowns in advance) and knowns in advance who will be saved (as good can ONLY come from God – so any good deed by a human must have been willed by God NOT by the human).
Therefore the centuries of effort by the Roman Catholic Church (and many others) to reconcile Predestination (Augustine) with moral responsibility are vain, according to Mr Luther, and determinism (the “bondage of the will”) is triumphant.
Mr Luther has the same contempt for those who try and reconcile predestination with moral choice, as Kant and William James had for those (such as David Hume) who tried to reconcile determinism with moral responsbilty. And, on this at least, Kant and William James were CORRECT – “compatiblism” is a “wretched subtifuge” (Kant) leading to a “quagmire of evasion” (William James). Logically, if one accepts his starting principles Mr Luther is correct – determinism utterly exterminates moral choice (that is the point of it – and it is why Mr Luther pushed determinism).
Mr Luther’s argument for determinism (for the total inability of humans to choose to do anything other than evil) is entirely logical – if one accepts his starting principles. Although it is hard to see how the “God” Mr Luther presents is not, in fact, Satan.
After all it is Satan (the Devil – if this being exists) who holds that we can not (no matter how hard we struggle) do anything else but submit to our darkest desires – so “give in – just do it……” (rape, murder and so on). And it is also Satan (the Devil – if this being exists) who dismisses moral opposition by mocking the very idea of universal principles of moral right and moral wrong – that we can find.
“Whatever I TELL you to do is morally right – there is no other definition of the term” is the position of Satan – of the Devil. This is where “theological voluntarism” (the doctrine that moral right and moral wrong are just the arbitrary will of God) leads us.
One might as well end such a position by rasing one’s arm and hand straight and shouting “Hail Satan” or “Heil Hitler”.
This is the first evil principle – that we can not even know what moral right and moral evil are and (therefore) must submit to whatever the state, or a holy text, says……..
Mr Luther does NOT wholly go along with this evil principle – as he does not accept the authority of a holy text, when this text contradicts his (Mr Luther’s) own opinions.
For example when it was pointed out to Mr Luther that some of his positions were contradicted by the Epistle of James – Mr Luther replied that it was an “Epistle of Straw”.
In short if the Bible contradicted Mr Luther – so much the worse for the Bible. Whole Books of the Bible were simply removed by Mr Luther using the excuse that these Books were about the period before the incarnation of Jesus, but the Jews did not include them in their scriptures – an odd excuse considering Mr Luther’s savage hatred of Jews. And Books of the Bible that he could not dismiss in this way – he overturned if they contradicted his doctrines.
Therefore it is actually mistaken to claim that Mr Luther held the authority of scripture to be final (to claim that it trumped human reason in matters of moral right and moral evil) – Mr Luther did argue from authority, but the authority was actually himself. If Mr Luther had a desire to violate Natural Law (Natural Justice) – for example by plundering and attacking the Jews then Natural Law (Natural Justice) did not exist, or that “whore” reason could not find it. And people could not choose moral good anyway – only God can choose moral right, and God decides what “moral right” is anyway, humans can neither work it out or choose it. And if Mr Luther did not like some piece of scripture he could either throw it away (whole Books of the Bible) or disregard it – as with the Epistle of James.
Of course Mr Luther was NOT the first person to do this – as he himself pointed out, Augustine had done much the same (Predestination and picking and choosing scripture) . Indeed Augustine had been unable to read scripture in the oringial Hebrew or Greek – and yet had set himself up as the great authority on the scriptures he was unable to read in the languages they were written in.
And, as Mr Luther pointed out to Erasmus, the Roman Catholic Church had ACCEPTED this.
And the Roman Catholic Church had desperately needed to accept the claims of Augustine.
After all where in the New Testament is there any justification for the persecution of heretics?
Where in reason (in natural justice) is there the principle “I disagree with your opinions – therefore I am going to torture you and then burn-you-alive!”
The Roman Catholic Church had not got this from the New Testament and they had not got it from natural law (natural justice) – so where had it come from?
It has come from Augustine and thinkers like him – all Mr Luther (and, later, Mr Calvin) was doing was taking Augustine to his logical conclusions. Surely people who supported “that whore” reason – could not object to this, if they accepted Augustine as an authority.
As for trying to reconcile Augustine with reason, morality, and scripture……… well you have been using his work (and the work of others like him) to “justify” your tortures and murders for centuries – it is a bit late to backtrack now, now that your own weapon (Augustine) is being used against you. That is what Mr Luther is really saying to the Roman Catholics of his historical period. And it is why they could not refute him by dismissing Augustine as having written nonsense – because the Roman Catholic Church had been praising Augustine for centuries. To reject Augustine now would have raised nasty questions about what all those centuries of religious persecution (including executions) were based upon.
Good luck trying to base the executions (tortue and execution for having certain OPINIONS) on natual justice (natural law) or on the New Testament.
“This is all a very long time ago Paul”.
No it is not – universities are teaching determinism and so on right now.
“But what are the practical consequences…..”
Well it is supposed to break some unwritten rule of the internet to refer to the National Socialists – but the denial of principles of universal natural law (natural justice) by the National Socialists had very practical consequences not that long ago. The “Racial morality” of the National Socialists, like “Class morality” of the Marxists, is the rejection of the idea of universal principles of moral right and moral evil – it is to take up the position that Edmund Burke (rightly or wrongly) accused Warren Hastings of holding, the position of “geographical morality” – relativism, historicism (and so on).
Mainsteam Islam (not all Islamic factions) also holds that the only way tell moral right from moral evil is what God commands and what God forbids – with the only guide to this being scripture. That human reason can not find moral right and moral wrong – and that humans could not choose moal right even if we could find it. That the only agent, the only free will being, is God.
So if Holy Scripture says that slavery is O.K. is slavery O.K.? Of course says the “voluntarist” (the person who holds that they only definition of “moral right” and “moral wong” is the WILL of God) – ditto murderering everyone in a town down to, and includuing, the babies.
What does one need a vast Jewish “Talmud” (commentary of the thinkers on the scriptures) for? Or the Roman Catholic scholasitics? Or the Anglian thinkers such as Richard Hooker?
All these people appeal to reason and to the ability of humans to not only find what is morally right, but to choose it (against the desire to do evil) – what a lot of nonsense says the determininst and moral relativist or voluntarist – i.e. someone who holds that moral right and wrong to be just a matter of the arbitrary WILL of God.
We are back with our old “friend” George Whitfield – or Whitefield (most people in the 18th century did not obsess over spelling).
Slavery forbidden by natual justice (natural law) – no such thing says Georgie.
Anyway we can not choose moral right over moral evil – because everything is predetermined.
“So why do you spend your time preaching if predestination is true”.
Well (Mr Whitfield could reply – just like the determinist philosopher J. Edwards of his time) – my preaching is also predetermined fom the start of the universe. He could even say “here I stand – I can do no other” (not a statement of moral conscience – a statement of determinism. Mr M.L. was saying he had no choice over his actions).
I, Mr Whitfield, want slaves – so I shall have slaves. After all people in the Bible had slaves so it must be O.K.
That is the subsitute for reasoning that the “Great Awakening” , George Whitfield, man offers the world.
So after a corrupt court case the founding documents of the colony of Georgia (which forbad slavery) were disregarded and slavery introduced to Georgia by Mr Whitfield and his friends.
And thus the “Slave Power” was created – a solid area of “Slave States” that would curse American history. Without Georgia this power could not have emerged – it would have had a great big hole in it.
What they did was not morally wrong – as there is no moral wrong that the human mind can find. And even if there was – humans could not choose moral good over moral evil anyway as everything is predetmined.
Evil ravings? Actually stuff like this (but in much evasive language) is being taught in most universities right now.
Well Mr Whitfield had his answer to opposition on slavey.
You, the opponent of slavery, are just a tool of the greedy industrialist Joshua Wedgewood (who opposed slavery – and financed opposition to it) – it is his Wedgewood china (not slavery and so on) that is the real evil! As is all luxury produced by greedy industrialists.
The modern version of this “agument” is “tool of the Koch Brothers”.