Religious Ethics- basically Christian Ethics

opticlops's version from 2015-04-12 15:21

Section 1

Question Answer
What is the ultimate source of morality for XtiansGod's Will
Who is the clearest articulation of God's will and why? Christ is believed to be the embodiment of God and therefore the clearest articulation available of the will of God. Christ = focus of moral guidance.
What are other sources of Moral Authority?➢ The Bible – ‘word’ of God ➢ Traditions of the church – continued reflection on God & Christ ➢ Work of Holy Spirit/Conscience – ‘voice’ of God within, inspiring and guiding ➢ Natural Law – developed by using God-given powers of reasoning to reflect on what is observed in natural world. (Assumes basic religious & moral principles are inbuilt in universe and human nature) ➢ Situation Ethics – agape as guiding principle Some would argue that Xian ethics is about the sort of person we are called to become. Thus there are similarities with Virtue Ethics
How do Christians respond to ethical issues from the context of their relationship with God.

Section 2

Question Answer
What is the bible, what does it consist of etc. Bible = collection of writings put together over a very long period of time. Consists of different books written in different cultural contexts. Therefore careful exegesis needed to understand original meaning/intention of a passage
According to the creation story how are people made and what does this mean? People made in God’s image i.e. morally responsible & answerable to God
What is conscience often seen as a mark of?often seen as mark of God’s image in people
What 'instructions' do we get from God when we are created- genesis 1:28; genesis 2:16‘Fill the earth & subdue it’ i.e. responsible stewardship; The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." i.e. there are limits! Can’t just do what we like.; These are foundational commandments
What is the Fall disastrous effects of disobedience - people fell out of proper relationship with the world, with each other and with God.

OT Covenant and Law

Question Answer
What 'binds' God and peopleGod enters into binding relationships with people.
What does God promise to do and under what conditionsGod promises to bless the Israelites if they keep commandments and honour God.
What does failure to keep the covenant lead toPUNISHMENT
What is the first covenantThe covenant between God and the Jewish people is a thread running throughout the early parts of the Bible, and one of the vital pillars of Judaism.God asks Abraham to do certain things, in return for which he will take special care of them. The covenant between God and Jews is the basis for the idea of the Jews as the chosen people.The first covenant was between God and Abraham-Jewish men are circumcised as a symbol of this covenant:"You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you."-Genesis 17:11
Genesis 17:7-8 On the first covenantI will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. 8 I will give you and your descendants the land in which you are immigrants, the whole land of Canaan, as an enduring possession. And I will be their God.”
How is the covenant expressed?Covenant expressed in laws through which God reveals his standards/moral demands to people. 10 C’s = heart of law
What are the two great commandments- what are they sometimes used to sum up?Deut 6:5 – ‘Love God with all heart, soul, mind & strength’; Lev 19:18 – ‘Love neighbour as self’. Used to sum up duties to God and duties to fellow humans. (Less well known sections also talk of duties/responsibilities towards nonhuman)
What does Xtian ethics carry forward?Christian Ethics carries forward the spirit of the Jewish Law but does not imitate the legalistic interpretation


Question Answer
What was a distinctive insight of prophets?Distinctive insight of prophets was recognition that religion and morality go hand in hand
Who was Hosea + Hosea 6:6Hosea was a prophet who lived and prophesied just before the destruction of Israel in 722 BC. – “Loyalty is my desire, not sacrifice"
Who was Amos + Amos 5:24Amos was one of the Twelve Minor Prophets. An older contemporary of Hosea and Isaiah. “Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like an everflowing stream"
Who was Micah + Micah 6:8He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos and Hosea and is considered one of the twelve minor prophets of the Tanakh (Old Testament)- “What is it the Lord asks of you? To act justly, to love loyalty, to walk wisely before your God.”

New testament Jesus Christ

Question Answer
How was God revealedGod revealed in creation, through law and prophets BUT Fully revealed in Jesus Christ
What is Jesus to ChristiansJesus Christ = essence of Christian moral principles because Jesus = God incarnate.
Before Jesus how were revelations of morals?Previous revelations of moral standards were abstract.
What has Jesus done to moral standards?Personified them: how people ought to live is lived out in the existence of Jesus.

Kingdom Ethics

Question Answer
What is Christ seen as?Christ seen as ushering in Kingdom of God which has new laws and a new lawgiver
When is the KingdomThe Kingdom is ‘now’ but ‘not yet’ – which creates a challenge for ethical living
What contains much Christian teachingSermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) contains much Christian ethical teaching
Matthew 5:38 Golden rule“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well.
Where can happiness be found- what are importantBeatitudes (Matt 5:3-12) are important. Seem to turn accepted values upside down, saying that true happiness is to be found in the least expected places
Matthew 5:4 example of a Beatitude and the unlikeliness of finding happiness“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad."
What was Jesus' new commandment“Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)
What is the New Testament's word for Loveagape – a self-giving, unconditional love
What do the ethics of the kingdom revolve around?Ethics of the Kingdom revolve around love of God, neighbour and ourselves as Christ loved
How can Xtian ethics be summed up?Christian ethics can be summed up as either following the teaching of Christ or imitating Christ

Paul's ethics

Question Answer
Important factor about Paul's ethicsTheology and ethics go hand in hand: doctrine leads to the moral life.
what are christians called to imitate?Philippians 2:5-11 = hymn to God who humbles himself. Christians called to imitate this
Philippians 2: 7-8When he found himself in the form of a human, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:4- Paul's ethics calls for christ like selflessness ‘Let each of you look not to your own interests but to the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4)
Galatians 5:25 calls people to live by Gods indwelling spirit"If we live by the Spirit, let’s follow the Spirit."
What enabled christians to live in imitation of christlove, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22) – enabled Christian to live in imitation of Christ
Galatians 5:22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness
What does God require?A life of love
Romans 13:10 What is love? Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law.
Important note about Paul's ethicsNo explicit concern here with moral obligation to change society as a whole for the better. Very early Christians did not struggle for social justice since there was a belief in an imminent Second Coming of Christ and God’s direct intervention in history to establish the Kingdom.

Tradition as a source of moral authority

Question Answer
WHAT IS IT USUAL FOR THE CHURCH TO DO?• Usual for Church to make appeal to historical precedent to support their particular moral emphases
Why does the church believe in tradition?Do this because they believe the tradition has authority
Another reason why tradition is good re jesusJesus himself built on and adapted Jewish tradition
What does the RC church particularly emphasiseparticular emphasis on historical inheritance, esp pronouncements of Popes - believed to stand in a direct line of succession from St Peter.
What have Pope's tried to uphold?Popes have tried to uphold what they regard as ‘true’ interpretations of scripture
What do Pope's say about their 'infallability'Although there is a formal teaching of papal infallibility, many popes have denied that they ever meet the requirements
Example of Papal moral guidanceHumane Vitae (1968) – banned artificial contraception
What do protestants prefer to do?preferred to appeal direct to scripture

Holy spirit as source of moral authority

Question Answer
What is the holy spirit seen as?seen as dwelling in hearts and minds of believers throughout generations of the Christian Church
Where has the Indwelling of the spirit been prophesised?Jeremiah 31:31-33
Jeremiah 31:31-33“I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts
What does the holy spirit do?guides, teaches and leads into truth (John 14:25-31; 15:21 – 16:15)
How does the holy spirit help with contemporary issuesWhen called on to pronounce on contemporary moral issues where there is little in the way of tradition to fall back on, Christians rely on the guidance of the indwelling Spirit.
How does the Church ensure morality doesn't become subjective?To ensure morality does not become individual and subjective, Church provides a series of checks and balances e.g. Church Councils and Synods

Divine command theory

Question Answer
What is DCT AKA?Theological volutarism
What is it- summaryGod is all-powerful and thus has total freedom to do whatever God wishes; God chooses not to act arbitrarily, which would be inconsistent with God’s nature; Thus God orders the universe by God’s Divine Law; Human beings, being God’s creatures, have an obligation to obey God’s law
Illustration of DCTGod is the army General and Christians are God’s soldiers. They wait on the battlefield knowing that the General has a strategic plan that will lead them to victory. Should they follow orders, however strange they might seem at the time?? The clear answer is that they should.

Strengths of DCT

Question Answer
Objective strengthObjective moral system, not based on human preference or on outcomes
What good qualities does it have?Has the qualities of impartiality and universalisability
Consistent strengthConsistent with other aspects of Christian theology e.g. divine sovereignty, teaching about obligation

Criticisms of DCT

Question Answer
What is the Euthyphro dilemma• Plato asks ‘is X good because God wills it or does God will it because it is good?’
What problem does the euthyphro dilemma arise?If we think good actions are good because God commands them this is problematic: God could command anything – the slaughter of innocents (?) - and that act would by definition be good. If we think that God commands things because they are good this is also problematic: it implies that there is a standard of goodness external to God and this makes God irrelevant with regard to morality
What did William of Ockham suggest?God has the power to make bad actions good but chooses to act by God’s own moral framework so would never command anything bad
What did robert adams suggestsimilarly argues that God is consistent and so if God appears to be commanding someone to do evil they must be mistaken
What did Peter Geach suggestargues that Divine Command Theory is just unnecessary. Since God will always command only what is morally right then discussion of the role of God in human decision making is an unnecessary distraction