Borrowed Rage

Why do the heathen rage–
With borrowed moral outrage
Standing on the top rung of a ladder in the air
The height of Babel’s Tower, built without foundation

Why do the peoples plot in vain–
The vanity of ethical criticism
Of the Lord and his Anointed Word
Graded by a test key not in possession

Why does the culture sit–
On the lap of the Father to slap his face
Intolerant of his intolerance, infuriated by his wrath
Pharisaical students of a law they have stolen

Why do the kings of the earth set themselves–
Against the Creator’s righteous standards
Claiming rights and freedoms
Endowed by their Creator

He who sits in heaven laughs
And holds them in derision
The derision of ironic judgments, poetic justice
Condemned by the mouth that condemns God’s condemnation

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About Evan May

Evan May is a student at Reformed Theological Seminary and a pastor at Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans.
This entry was posted in Poems. Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Borrowed Rage

  1. SLIMJIM says:

    That’s pretty good thanks for sharing.

  2. Tony says:

    “Claiming rights and freedoms
    Endowed by their Creator”
    Dont be absurd there ARE NO rights or freedoms according to the bible for humans, the very concept of human rights go against what the bible teaches
    “Why do the heathen rage–
    With borrowed moral outrage”
    What is wrong with you? dont you think this through do you,if what was the case you would not be outraged if i owned people as slaves?
    “Standing on the top rung of a ladder in the air
    The height of Babel’s Tower, built without foundation”
    the tower of babel doesnt exist, something else the bible cannot account for HUMAN HISTORY
    “Why does the culture sit–
    On the lap of the Father to slap his face”
    If that was the case first of all then God wouldnt care because he is omnipotent, so slapping him would have no effect whatsoever
    “Intolerant of his intolerance, infuriated by his wrath
    Pharisaical students of a law they have stolen”
    so again you admit that things like Holocaust are good because there are intolerant?

  3. Mel says:

    Because any creator who would perform or condone such acts would be an evil tyrant, and therefore unworthy of worship. If such a despicable being as the God in this poem existed, the only moral choice would be to fight against it with all our strength, even if we had no chance of winning.

  4. Evan May says:

    Tony,

    Thanks for illustrating for us the point of the poem, which you evidently missed.

    Mel,

    What moral standard are you appealing to in your critique of the God of the Bible?

  5. Tony says:

    “Thanks for illustrating for us the point of the poem, which you evidently missed.”
    what is WRONG with you??? I clearly demonstrate how your awful poetry makes no sense what so ever, YOU KNOW that the morality in the bible cannot account for anything, besides it YOU who illustrated the point of my comments, which you as a presuppositionist obviously missed due to your blind fidelism

  6. Evan May says:

    Tony,

    No matter how many times you repeat it, simply asking what is wrong with me is not an argument.

    There is plenty wrong with me. I am a sinner saved by the grace of God. I am broken and in need of repair. But my worldview is able to provide categories of wrong and right, and the redemption that is available to address them. You, however, have yet to justify how moral language even makes sense given your worldview. All you have done is to critique the Bible on the basis of your presuppositions, which begs the question. This is fideism.

    • Tony says:

      “But my worldview is able to provide categories of wrong and right,”
      oh so slavery is good then, why arent you writing posts on why it should be legal again?

      • Evan May says:

        Tony,

        You keep misfiring. Your proof-text approach to interpreting Biblical ethics aside, why is slavery wrong on atheistic presuppositions?

        You’ve yet to answer the basic argument by justifying a secular meta-ethic. You keep proceeding to object to the Bible without establishing a moral foundation.

        Are you a moral realist or anti-realist? Do you believe in objective moral norms?

      • Tony says:

        “why is slavery wrong on atheistic presuppositions?”
        “You keep proceeding to object to the Bible without establishing a moral foundation. ”
        we are talking about whether you can account for morals not i, i am not misreading anything in the bible,it is very clear about slavery in the bible, i am showing how your morality is subjective and reletvisitc which means you cant object to things i do as “bad”, you see now if morality is based on the will of Yahweh then it is subjective because it is RELATIVE to a person in your case-God

      • Tony says:

        Also you cannot account for the existence of psychopaths and sociopaths, your bible clearly says God had written his moral laws in the hearts of men, but psychos and socios do not care for anyone but themselves WHAT SO EVER, nor can they feel love, the closest thing they can to love is control and domination. And to top it all off these traits emerge when psychos and socios are CHILDREN,and its clear from your bible that God loves small children cause Jesus got very mad when there are people whom harmed them,so i guess God loves children so much if he creates them to be like that

  7. Evan May says:

    Christian morality is rooted in the eternal will of God and the unchanging nature of God, both of which he has revealed to us and has made universally binding upon us. Yes, God is personal, but meta-ethics must be personal by necessity in order for them to be normative. Law is an expression of God’s Covenant Lordship. This is not “subjective” in any meaningful sense.

    I notice that you did not answer my question of whether or not you are a moral realist. You have not been simply assessing Christianity on its own terms but have been judging it according to your extrinsic presuppositions, which you have made no attempt to argue for.

    If you are attempting an internal critique of Biblical ethics, you are not being successful, since you are failing to take into account all of its principles. For instance, Christianity does not just have a doctrine of the law of God written upon the consciences of men. The same chapter that teaches us this (Romans 1) also says that they respond to this revelation by suppressing the truth in wickedness. Your description of psychopaths being evil from birth is reminiscent of the doctrines of Original Sin and Total Depravity. Far from contradicting God’s truth, this is a confirming evidence of its reality in this world!

    • Tony says:

      “This is not “subjective” in any meaningful sense.”
      yes it is, because if morality is rooted in the will of any being it is subjective by definition, so you are admitting that morality and meta-ethics MUST be subjective by necessity?
      “Your description of psychopaths being evil from birth is reminiscent of the doctrines of Original Sin and Total Depravity. ”
      no its not,it sounds nothing like any descriptions of Total Depravity or Original sin i have heard,its to show how God did not write his law on anyone’s heart if he did write them on the hearts of men then there would still be evidence of that law being written on his/her heart from a psychopath as since God is supposed to be infallible so if what you said is true then it would be impossible for psychopaths to suppress such things completely, yet psychopaths cant even love! Speaking of love the bible says he who doesn’t know love doesn’t know God, so not everyone knows your God exists, no matter had badly to try to make such inane assertions like Sye “Brain Damage” Bruggengate
      ” You have not been simply assessing Christianity on its own terms”
      No i have assessed it on its own terms, i have shown how if you follow Christian ethics to their conclusions you should be owning slaves and killing everyone who doesn’t follow your religion in a brutal and painful fashion, as well banning any sort of meaningful civil liberties, yet i doubt you try to do those three things gee i wonder why? is it because you are afraid of living up to the conclusions of your worldview?

    • Tony says:

      “I notice that you did not answer my question of whether or not you are a moral realist.”
      whats the point? you as a presupptionalist will just dismiss it before i even make mention of it, as you believe no evidence can refute what you believe, so therefore you believe you will always be right no matter what, no matter how badly you have been refuted

  8. Evan May says:

    “yes it is, because if morality is rooted in the will of any being it is subjective by definition”

    You’re simply equivocating on the word “subjective”. There is an infinite distance between morality that is subjective to a human individual and morality that is “subjective” to God, who is himself Objective.

    “it sounds nothing like any descriptions of Total Depravity or Original sin i have heard”

    You need to read some basic Systematic Theology.

    “its to show how God did not write his law on anyone’s heart if he did write them on the hearts of men then there would still be evidence of that law being written on his/her heart”

    You ignored my citation of Romans 1 that explicitly addresses this, which demonstrates that you are failing to respond to Christianity on its own premises.

    “Speaking of love the bible says he who doesn’t know love doesn’t know God, so not everyone knows your God exists.”

    Of course, the Bible, like any written document, uses the same word in different senses (let alone the fact that you are citing two different Biblical authors). Your Sunday school fundamentalist handling of Scripture does not give us much reason to believe that you are making a serious attempt to respond to Christianity on its own terms. You’re cheating by creating exegetical shortcuts in order to establish your point.

    “No i have assessed it on its own terms”

    What you’ve done is oscillate in and out of an internal critique. You’ve set aside truths that are part and parcel of the Christian worldview and imported your own extrabiblical assumptions into your argument.

    But even if you were to find problems intrinsic to the Christian message, without justifying your own worldview you provide no compelling reason why we should not believe something that is contradictory. You see, that *should not* is a normative judgment, which means that it needs a logical and ethical foundation. So simply claiming to assess Christianity internally does not protect you from having to establish your own meta-ethic. It’s like you’re standing in the middle of a sky, pointing out the problems in the jet engine of a nearby plane.

    “i have shown how if you follow Christian ethics to their conclusions you should be owning slaves and killing everyone who doesn’t follow your religion in a brutal and painful fashion, as well banning any sort of meaningful civil liberties”

    No, you have not “shown” that. What you’ve done is given a laundry list of typical skeptic objections to the Bible, which are addressed in thousands of pages of apologetic literature. You’ve given no effort to demonstrate that the Bible commands me to do such things.

    But let’s assume your absent exegesis for the sake of argument. So what? How does that undermine the truth of Christianity? Let’s say the Bible commands me to do things that I do not do, either because it goes against my own intuitive sense of justice or because I’m simply disobedient. Why is that a problem for Biblical morality? Doesn’t the Bible have a category for hypocrisy and disobedience?

    No, the issue is that you are holding these things up to some *external* standard of morality (which you have not supplied or justified) and saying, “See, how could you follow something that tells you to do such evil things,” stated from a worldview in which the vocabulary of evil is nonsense.

    “whats the point? you as a presupptionalist will just dismiss it before i even make mention of it”

    This is an ad hominem argument pure and simple. You’ve just thrown a label at me and then refused to engage me in good faith on the basis of that label.

    Nice try, but your evasion is illustrative. Here’s the deal: this is a comment thread beneath an original post that contains an argument (that the secular worldview does not have a moral foundation to stand on in order to criticize God for his judgments). You have still yet to answer that original argument, and when asked to do so you reply that *I* am the one who dismisses evidence? Sheesh.

    • Tony says:

      “What you’ve done is given a laundry list of typical skeptic objections to the Bible, which are addressed in thousands of pages of apologetic literature. ”
      except its never been answered in all those pages
      “You’re simply equivocating on the word “subjective”. There is an infinite distance between morality that is subjective to a human individual and morality that is “subjective” to God, who is himself Objective. ”
      God cannot be objective, he is a person and anything rooted in a person is by def subjective, its just the preferences of the most powerful being
      ” Why is that a problem for Biblical morality?”
      it shows that you cannot live on biblical morality, and that you must steal Chinese or any number of other culture’s morality to support your own primitive stone age tribal morality, if it needs to steal things from other opposing philosophies, why not just follow that other philosophy?
      “But let’s assume your absent exegesis for the sake of argument. So what? How does that undermine the truth of Christianity? ”
      anyrate so what if you are right about lets say an athiest “stealing” your morality, even if it was true i dont see how it undermines the truth of athiesm or not
      “You have still yet to answer that original argument, and when asked to do so you reply that *I* am the one who dismisses evidence? Sheesh.”
      because you are a presupptionalist, you dismiss any evidence that would prove Christianity wrong
      “You need to read some basic Systematic Theology. ”
      it still doesnt sound like and basic theological description of orginal sin or total depravity i have read on any basic theological website
      “You ignored my citation of Romans 1 that explicitly addresses this, which demonstrates that you are failing to respond to Christianity on its own premises. ”
      i did not ignore it i refuted it i will say it again since God is supposed to be infallible so if what you said is true then it would be impossible for psychopaths to suppress such things completely, and yet they do as they show no signs of any moral outrage at anything bible god says he finds disgusting

    • waffle-eater says:

      ” There is an infinite distance between morality that is subjective to a human individual and morality that is “subjective” to God, who is himself Objective. ”

      sorry buddy your God isnt objective,because he is a person anything that is based on a person is not objective, if he was objective he would do things that are considered good INPEDENTDENT of his own opionion . EVERYTHING in your worldview is just the personal emotional opinion of your god

      • Evan May says:

        You’re equivocating with the word “subjective.” Objectivity in meta-ethics concerns whether there are objective moral norms, i.e., moral principles that are transcendent, unchanging, and universally binding on humanity. The only basis for such moral norms is theistic. These are based in God’s nature, not in his emotional whims. If ethics were a standard extrinsic to God to which he must submit, he would not be God, which is incoherent.

        The question is how can *any* morality be normative without a *Person* who holds individuals accountable? Ethics must be personal. But it cannot merely be based in the human person or culture, otherwise it forfeits objectivity.

        Another way of putting this is that ethics must be *personal*, but they cannot be *person-variant* in order to be meaningful. That is the important distinction between the two senses of the word “subjective.”

      • waffle-eater says:

        “The question is how can *any* morality be normative without a *Person* who holds individuals accountable? Ethics must be personal.”
        not really… plenty of ethical systems work without a person that enforces things, this is extremely euro-centric thinking that should have died out years ago, but eh,
        From My Country, My People (1935) by Lin Yu Tang.

        “To the West, it seems hardly imaginable that the relationship between man and man (morality) could be maintained without reference to a Supreme Being, while to the Chinese it is equally amazing that men should not, or could not, behave toward one another as decent beings without thinking of their indirect relationship through a third party.”

        “These are based in God’s nature, not in his emotional whims.”
        you do realize that all you did was re-word the problem not solve it right? why is something that is considered objectivity good apart of God’s nature instead of something else? how does God’s nature know something is good or bad? in other words is God’s character the way it is because it is good or is God’s character good simply because it is God’s character? If we identify the ultimate standard for goodness with God’s nature, then it seems we are identifying it with certain of God’s properties (e.g., being loving, being fair,being kind). If so, then the dilemma resurfaces: is God good because he has those properties, or are those properties good because God has them?

        “The only basis for such moral norms is theistic”
        not really……..

      • waffle-eater says:

        “Objectivity in meta-ethics concerns whether there are objective moral norms, i.e., moral principles that are transcendent, unchanging, and universally binding on humanity. ”
        well this is like the third or fourth definition of objective morality i have heard, can you prove yours to be the correct one?

  9. Evan May says:

    Tony,

    You’re being lazy in this exchange.

    It’s time for you to be on your way.

  10. defectivebit says:

    Borrowed rage illustrated, my goodness. Hope to see some more VanTilian poetry Evan!

  11. Evan May says:

    “not really… plenty of ethical systems work without a person that enforces things”

    This misses the point. It’s not about whether ethical systems *work*, but whether or not they can be *justified* according to your worldview.

    “you do realize that all you did was re-word the problem not solve it right?”

    No, what I did was point out that you were lighting up straw men and declaring victory. Morality is not rooted in God’s supposed “emotional opinions” (as you stated it), but in his unchanging nature. If you care to move away from your original assertion, that is fine.

    “how does God’s nature know something is good or bad?”

    By definition, because he is God. You need to attempt to accurately represent and respond to the position you are critiquing.

    “If so, then the dilemma resurfaces: is God good because he has those properties, or are those properties good because God has them?”

    What the Euthyprho dilemma ignores is the necessity of self-referential descriptions for an ultimate being. By definition, an ultimate being does not subscribe to a standard above it. That’s what it means for him to *be* the standard (otherwise, we’d end up with an infinite regress). But that does not make the standard any less meaningful because of it. And according to the Christian worldview, meaning itself finds its reference in God. You might not like that idea, but that does not make it incoherent.

    This is the world that God has made; it functions according to the rules he has commanded, which reflect both his will and nature (and not one divorced from the other). This is objective morality in the necessary sense.

    ” ‘The only basis for such moral norms is theistic’
    not really……..”

    Nice counterargument. I see you’ve made no attempt to account for universal moral norms in an atheistic world.

  12. waffle-eater says:

    so basically you are saying that being loving, being fair,being kind are considered good are considered good because God has them as a part of his nature?

  13. Evan May says:

    “well this is like the third or fourth definition of objective morality i have heard, can you prove yours to be the correct one?”

    You’ve not offered an alternative, or shown why this definition fails to meet the criteria for moral realism. And you’ve made no attempt to argue for a non-theistic meta-ethic. You don’t seem to want to lift any intellectual weight in this exchange.

    “so basically you are saying that being loving, being fair, being kind are considered good are considered good because God has them as a part of his nature?”

    They are true and genuine goods, but in a Christian understanding of reality, true and genuine goods find their reference point in God.

    God is good because he has these qualities, and these qualities are good because they reflect who God is. Like I said above, there is an inevitable self-referentiality with ultimate beings. This is foreign to human experience, but not false because of that.

    • waffle-eater says:

      “You don’t seem to want to lift any intellectual weight in this exchange. ”
      well considering that Jason Lisle and Sye Ten Bruggengate killed all my brain cells yeah its pretty hard to do
      anyways do you agree with these statements?
      some one asked Jason Lisle (a Christian) about his morality and claimed it was just the personal preferances of a powerful being and Jason said this:
      “If God were merely a very powerful individual as you’ve suggested, the situation wouldn’t change much. ” and “People are finite, and so our personal preferences are limited to our own mind. But God is infinite, omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, and sovereign. So His thoughts determine reality, and His preferences determine morality.”
      do you agree with what he said?

      • Evan May says:

        “well considering that Jason Lisle and Sye Ten Bruggengate killed all my brain cells yeah its pretty hard to do”

        What a lazy reply…

        “some one asked Jason Lisle (a Christian) about his morality and claimed it was just the personal preferances of a powerful being”

        Of course, the quote you go on to cite introduces distinctions that your summary fails to recognize.

        “do you agree with what he said?”

        I’m not sure that “preferences” is a careful way of stating it, as if, on a different day, God could prefer something different (of course, that’s not what he means). That’s why I’ve insisted throughout this thread that morality is rooted in both the immutable will and the unchanging *nature* of God. And his nature is not only all-powerful, but good. God isn’t just the “strongest” being; he has every other attribute that Scripture ascribes to him.

      • Evan May says:

        What this entire line of questioning seems to miss is that, in the Christian understanding, we are not just autonomous individuals, attempting to recognize whether or not God is morally praiseworthy according to a criteria of ethics that we have discovered. We are the people that God has made. Ethical categories are intelligible because he has designed the universe with a moral fabric that reflects his nature and purposes and has made us in his image. The reason we even ask the question “Is God good?” to begin with is because this is the world he created, and we are the people he made. We operate with that category because he has given it to us. On this view, to entertain the idea that God must prove his goodness according to something outside of him is nonsense; it is a category error.

      • waffle-eater says:

        well that is strange, Jason Lisle claims to be a “presupptionalist” and yet he also claims God allows people to be “autonomus”as well remember he said that “If God were merely a very powerful individual as you’ve suggested, the situation wouldn’t change much.” so it seems to me that he believes the only reason God should determine morality is because of power

        “What a lazy reply…”
        well i am sorry i am not as smart as you are yeesh…

  14. André Uttley. says:

    Hello Evan,

    Since you acknowledge that your own moral compass is corrupt, I wonder what mechanism you employ in order to ascertain that God is more moral than man – would that be your admittedly flawed moral compass?

    Thanks.

    André.

    • Evan May says:

      Hey André,

      Thanks for stopping by. I acknowledge that my “moral compass” is corrupt (yet being restored by grace) because I learn of this from God’s revelation in Scripture, which also informs me of God’s character and commandments. Christianity is a revealed religion.

      Evan

  15. André Uttley. says:

    Thanks for such a prompt reply Evan; I appreciate it. However, may I press you a little further?

    What mechanism do you employ, in order to ascertain that scripture should merit your approbation, since you have a damaged moral compass?

    I’m somewhat puzzled by your rationale.

    André.

    • Evan May says:

      I’m not sure I understand the problem. Like I said, the reason I believe that my moral compass is flawed is because I believe Scripture, which teaches me this. The same Scripture that also teaches that I am made in God’s image, that I have his law written on my conscience, and that (as a believer) I have the Holy Spirit living inside of me, bearing witness to the truth. All the theological realities that would be required in order for me to understand and believe God’s moral law are present. So, if your point is that there is a tension internal to the Christian worldview on this matter, I don’t see it.

  16. André Uttley. says:

    My goodness!

    That is some seriously cock-eyed epistemology son!

    HOW did you ascertain that scripture is correct? You just read it with your flawed morality and accepted it as your moral guide?

    I’m not suggesting there is a tension internal to the Christian worldview at all. I’m suggesting (and your response appears to confirm this) that you have no trustworthy mechanism by which to ascertain the morality of God or the merit of scripture. You’re merely blindly accepting DCT from what I read here.

    Do I have you pegged incorrectly?

    André.

    • Evan May says:

      Since you framed the conversation in terms of my “corrupt moral compass,” you took a step inside the Christian theological system, presumably arguing that a corrupt moral compass renders me unable to recognize the truth and morally praiseworthy character of Scripture. I pointed out that there are more factors in play than what you describe as a corrupt moral compass; there’s the imago dei, the sensus divinitatis, the illumination of the Holy Spirit, etc. In other words, in Christian theology, total depravity does not cause man to be unable to recognize God’s existence and worth; actually, the opposite is true (Rom. 1:18ff).

      Now, if *you* want to mount an external argument that, according to evidence you provide, I have a corrupt moral compass and am unable to make reasonable or morally-informed decisions regarding truth, then be my guest. But I responded the way I did because it seemed like you were attempting to show that certain tenets of my belief system render it epistemologically problematic.

      But if you’re asking me whether I have *reasons* to believe the truth of Scripture, then reasons abound. There is, of course, an entire genre of apologetic literature that argues such. And if Scripture is true, then it is true in what it claims of God and his attributes. This is not “blindly accepting” anything (and, by the way, the position I have been articulating in these comments is more nuanced than Divine Command Theory, depending on how you’re defining that. For example, I’m not a Nominalist; I do not divorce God’s will from his nature.).

  17. André Uttley. says:

    Ah, Calvinism! Gotcha Evan. That makes sense. A particularly odious little heretic in my view. His utter contempt for humanity drips from his writings and demonstrated in his murderous, bloodthirsty behaviour. His teachings make people say such fatuously asinine things as this:

    “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners. But for that very reason, I was shown mercy so that in me Jesus Christ might display His unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory forever and ever.” – statement made to the court on 17 February 1992 by the notorious Milwaukee serial killer and cannibal, Jeffrey Dahmer.

    Vicarious Redemption? No thanks; utterly wicked.

    André.

    • Evan May says:

      As far as I can see it, there is no connection between my comment and your reply. I take that as an admission that your initial objection was a false start.

      If you want to comment here again without getting deleted, try actually answering the original post and making an attempt to justify secular ethics.

  18. Evan May says:

    “No connection between your comment and my reply? What? So the doctrine of total depravity isn’t the first part of T.U.L.I.P?”

    I wasn’t talking about a semantic connection but a substantive one. Calling Calvin a “heretic” (whatever that means in an atheistic world), quoting Jeffrey Dahmer citing 1 Tim. 1, and referring to vicarious redemption as “utterly wicked” is not a substantive reply and has nothing to do with your initial argument.

    “I haven’t been rude to you son”

    I find that your claiming not to be rude while calling me “son” (three times now) pretty ironic.

  19. Evan May says:

    “well that is strange, Jason Lisle claims to be a ‘presupptionalist’ and yet he also claims God allows people to be ‘autonomus’ as well”

    You internet atheists need to learn how to engage the person in front of you.

    I think I’ve entertained you guys enough for now. Comments are closed.

Comments are closed.