Is a coherent biblical morality even possible?

Atheists frequently take issue with the logical problems present in many theological worldviews. The problem of evil is perhaps the most well known of these. Also high on the list is the propensity of some believers to cherry pick – to focus on those biblical moral injunctions that resonate with them, and ignore those that do not.

But is a fully coherent biblical morality even possible? Certainly, it may be possible to come up with a coherent Christian morality, but could this ever be supported unambiguously by the Bible?

Looking at it a different way, could one read through the entire Bible, take note of every moral prescription along with every caveat and restriction, and come away with a solid, well-constructed approach to morality?

This would seem to be a tremendously difficult task. The problem is that the Bible was not written as an instruction manual for morality. It was not written by a single author. It was not written in a single time period nor, indeed, was it written anywhere close to modern times.  The Bible is also very long. All of these factors greatly enhance the probability that it will contradict itself at some point (or many!).

At best, then, it seems that Christian morality can amount to little more than a sort of general impression that rises from the pages. A general impression that’s strongly influenced by the tastes and beliefs of the reader.

The risk of misinterpretation seems great. The Bible, as everyone would readily agree, is not written in a concise, scientific style. It was never meant to be a dispassionate treatise. (Indeed, it was never meant to be anything at all – there is no common thread or purpose that runs through all sixty-six books, and there was never a single person or organization driving its development.)  Instead, the Bible is a collection of evangelical and pseudo-historical tracts. 

It is no wonder, then, that most Christians rely on prayer and other forms of revelation to guide their thinking on morality. The Bible simply isn’t up to the task.


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