First, many argue that making God the source of objective value solves nothing because it creates a dilemma fatal to theism. First raised by Plato in Euthyphro, this argument claims that (1) if something is good because God wills it good, God could will anything (even murder), and it would be, ipso facto, good. But this is absurd. (2) If God’s will is not the source of the good, goodness lies outside of God’s being and this robs him of his moral supremacy (an essential attribute of deity).
This dilemma is in fact a chimera since the theist can escape between the horns uninjured. The Euthyphro argument trades on a straw man (or straw god) that creates a false dilemma. Biblical theism—Islam is another matter (see chap. 24)—claims God as the source of all goodness on the basis of both God’s character and God’s will. God’s moral will is based on God’s changeless nature. The triune God, who has existed from eternity in a relationship of threefold love between the Father, the Son and the Spirit, cannot, for example, morally mandate rape. God’s disposition forbids it. God’s integrity abhors it. Objective moral values, according to the Bible, are not created in the sense that the contingent universe was created out of nothing (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1). Objective moral values have their source in the eternal character, nature and substance of a loving, just and self-sufficient God. Just as God does not create himself, so he does not create moral values, which are eternally
constituent of his being. For that reason, when God creates humans in his own image and likeness, they need to know objective moral value and they must treat each other accordingly.
To hearken back to Leff, to say that God’s moral utterances are “performative”
does not mean that God brings something into being at a particular time that did not exist previously—as when a minister declares a couple now married as “husband and wife.” Rather, God’s character is eternally, changelessly good, so when God performs a moral utterance—as in the Ten Commandments or through the life and teachings of Jesus—he is speaking according to the eternal nature of his being. Herein is the warrant to declare the divine utterance unchallengeable and final. God’s commands are not arbitrary, either in their relation to the divine character or in their relation to the divine creation, since the creation bears the mark of the Creator. Therefore, it is impossible for God to sanction adultery, stealing, murder, false witness and so on.