Richard Baxter continues his directions respecting the unconverted. In the fourth point, Baxter stated that he will “Supposed, therefore, there thou dost confess there is a God ….If thou wilt deny there is a God, thou must deny that thou art a man, and that there is any man, or any being.”
From the place of presupposition, There is a God, Baxter reasons. First, God must be the Creator. If God is not the Creator, then he does not deserve the title of God:
For he is not God, if he be not the Creator, and therefore our Owner, our Rule, and Benefactor, our absolute Lord, our most righteous Governor, and our most loving Father, or Benefactor.
Baxter’s point matters a great deal: The demands made by God stem from the status of Creator. A god who did not create us is a god who can make no demand upon us beyond, I’m bigger than you. Indeed, much complaint about God, as depicted in the Bible, is that he is a bully.
The complaint of a bully is a complaint that one has no right to make such demands. Consider: If a police officer gives someone a ticket for running a red light, it is not the act of a bully. The state has legitimate authority for health and safety. But if the police officer stops motorists and demands that they give him personally $20, he is being a bully. He is simply using his power to abuse others. A robber is just a bully writ large.
When people complain of God’s demands, they essentially complain that he is a bully. But in making the bully argument, they are actually stating, (1) God has no right to make such a demand. (2) I don’t like his demand. Both elements are necessary, because few people complain that God hates murder. However, they do complain when God forbids some specific act.
The complaint against God only arises when one’s desire has been crossed. At that point, the complaint will issue, God has no right! (That is really the thrust of the argument concerning evil: God has not right to judge me! He is worse than I am.) Baxter will drive home the point of God’s right by first noting establishes, God is the Creator.
As Creator, God establishes meaning in the most fundamental aspect: If God did not create, the concept of meaning in creation would be gibberish: there would be no creation. If God did create, then meaning is something built into creation. As Creator, God establishes meaning, and hence morality and all other aspects of meaning.
In fact, the existence of moral facts (e.g., the Holocaust was evil) is a basic proof of God’s existence. (If God does not exist, then one may state his strong dislike of murder, but to argue that it is evil is silly: unless by the word one merely means, I really strongly and passionately dislike it. Or one may mean, It is a fundamentally bad idea – I might get killed. But one cannot really mean “evil.” Such Humpty-Dumpty refashioning of words get us very little. If we keep up this nonsense, we’ll have no conversation at all.)
A Creator God is a God who establishes meaning, this is right and that is wrong – which also necessitates a concept of order. Thus, to obtain the end of “liberation” one must jettison God, which means throwing out meaning:
For myself, as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust. The supporters of these systems claimed that in some way they embodied the meaning (a Christian meaning, they insisted) of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and at the same time justifying ourselves in our political and erotic revolt: we could deny that the world had any meaning whatsoever.
Aldus Huxley, Ends and Means (1946), 272. A copy of the work may be found here: http://www.archive.org/stream/endsandmeans035237mbp/endsandmeans035237mbp_djvu.txt
Rather than meaning, there is “preference”. The preference of God for X is no better than my preference for Y, albeit, God might have a bigger hammer and so God may cow my desire.
Thus, Baxter rightly notes that the conversation cannot get going unless we both begin with a God who created. Paul, proceeds from this point in Romans. He notes the wrath of God revealed against the suppression of the truth. Note how his argument concerning the Gospel comes anchored in God creates:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:18–25 (ESV)