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Can You Be Good Without God?

Apr 20, 2008
Since the year 2002, the movie Time Changer (Five by Two Productions) has been provoking Christians to consider the place of morality without theology. In other words, is it adequate to teach how to act without a basis from Scripture? In the story, seminary professor Russell Carlisle presents a manuscript for approval by the staff. But approval is not unanimous. Dr. Norris Anderson maintains that teaching Christ's standard of living without Christ will never work.

The struggle between these two men intensifies until finally Carlisle accepts the invitation to visit his adversary at his home. There he is introduced to a time travel machine, invented by Dr. Anderson. Carlisle is transported through more than a 100 years of time to see the result of teaching morality without God in the very community where he lived. The few days' experience motivated Carlisle to rewrite his manuscript.

It only takes a generation to forget the reason they are acting a certain way at all. When asked what is wrong with society, Alexander Solzhenitsyn answered, "It has forgotten God." In other words, emphasis on kindness and love and morality is not enough. Daniel Boorstin stated, "Trying to plan for the future (conduct) without a sense of the past (foundation of conduct) is like trying to plant cut flowers." George MacDonald said, "No teacher (including story writers) should strive to make men think as he thinks, but to lead them to the living Truth, to the Master himself, of whom alone they can learn anything."

For example, consider a school in the south where character is the daily focus. Honesty, diligence, and other qualities are in fact tiled in mosaic at the entrance. Recitations are said in unison every day in the fifth grade: "I am wonderful; I am important; I am worthwhile; I make a difference; I am smart; I care about myself; I smile a lot; I am brave; I am successful; I am confident; I am strong inside; I can say No; I keep trying; I am a precious worthwhile mistake-making person." This is a public school so, of course, God cannot be mentioned. Without Christ at the foundation, what does this list mean? Will reciting it daily convince a student it is true? Now add the Person of Jesus Christ. 'In Christ I can make a difference. In Christ I am precious to God. In Christ I have strength to continue.' Placing the focus on God instead of self makes all the difference.

It is similar to the story of the King's Garments. Seven tailors claimed they could weave the most beautiful garments imaginable but only those wise enough could see them. No one in the palace wanted to admit they were not wise so they all praised the invisible clothes. Even on the day of the procession, all praised the magnificent creation until one little boy revealed the deception by shouting, "The king is naked."

So character without God is naked of the foundation on which it must stand. When that foundation is removed, it can do nothing but collapse for the next generation will say, "Why should we act that way?" There is no reason. Morality is naked. And indeed, apart from God, it is.
About the Author
Character stories, when read with this view in mind, can help direct younger generations to the Source of true character. You can help by reading (or pointing out) these free character building stories to youth you love.
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