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A Theological Basis of Conservatism, Part 7

This entry is part of 7 in the series

"A Theology of Conservatism"

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If God does indeed imbue creation with his own value judgments, we are obligated to order our loves in analogy to his.

If what I’m arguing is true, we are blameworthy, not only when we believe mistakenly (and thereby do not conform to God’s knowledge of himself or of his creation), but also when we feel mistakenly (and thereby do not conform to God’s valuing of himself or of his creation). That is to say, there is (in God) an objective basis for aesthetic judgments. Beauty is not in the eye of the beholder; what God values as beautiful, and what he has created to exemplify his love of beauty, is beautiful. We are obligated to respond to it as such.

Let us return to the Garden. Suppose that, moments after his creation, Adam were to say, “This rock is radiometric dated as 4 billion years old, and therefore I believe it is 4 billion years old,” Adam would believe something false, and the falseness of his belief is not ultimately because his beliefs do not fit with the rock, but because his beliefs are contrary to God’s beliefs. But if Adam were to say, “Wow, this place is a dump,” his problem is not primarily that he has made a false statement (although that is the case); his bigger problem is that he is expressing a set of values that do not conform to God’s. He does not love what God loves.

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The Difficulty of Conservative Definition

My argument is that Adam’s second statement is blameworthy, because God’s valuing of the Garden a certain way lays obligation on Adam (and on all of Adam’s sons) to also value the Garden the same way. God’s valuings, which exist in himself by are expressed in his creation, provide for us a non-relativistic basis for aesthetic judgments.

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Michael Riley

About Michael Riley

Student of theology, apologetics, and Christian affections. Pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Wakefield, Michigan.

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