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Divine Law as Standard (Theological Standard)

Divine Law as Standard (Theological Standard)

According to some thinkers, (like Descartes, Locke, Paley), actions are right or wrong simply because God has commanded or forbidden them. Divine command is the test of rectitude. The distinctions of right or wrong depend on the will of God.


  1. The most obvious objection to this theory is that the motive for virtue or avoidance of sin, would consist simply in the hope of reward or fear of punishment and, thus, virtue would merge in prudence while morality in self-interest. Acts performed out of fear of punishment or expectation of reward may be prudent but not virtuous. Such an act cannot have any positive moral merit.                                                                                            Divine Law as Standard (Theological Standard)
  2. This theory denies God’s perfection; it deprives God of all moral character. For it assumes that the distinction of right and wrong is created by an act of arbitrary Divine will. Thus, God is above moral law, His nature is morally blank. He is an object of fear rather than of veneration.                                                      Divine Law as Standard (Theological Standard)
  3. Instead of supposing that acts are right or wrong simply because God commands or forbids them, we must suppose that He commands or forbids them because they are right or wrong.
  4. That Divine perfection or goodness, and not the arbitrary Divine will, ultimately determines what is right , is supported by the admissions made by the advocates of the arbitrary Theological standard. Thus, Descartes constantly speaks of Divine perfection and veracity. Locke, too, speaks of Divine goodness guiding us and directing our actions to what is best. These admissions show that they, too, felt at times that God is essentially good, and that morality rests on His essential nature, and not on His arbitrary will.          Diviine Law as Standard (Theological Standard)



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