What is ethics?....continued
Deeper definition of Christian Ethics Excerpts taken from "A New Dictionary of Christian
Other entries deal with the ethics of various Christian
traditions; this one attends to the patterns of Christian ethical writing,
their elements and their relations to each other.
Themes. Writings that are systematic have organizing themes
(metaphors, analogies, symbols, principles) around which other theological and
ethical ideas and concepts cohere. The themes may be theological or ethical, or
combinations of the two. Some examples follow:
(a) The theme that backs
H. R. Niebuhr's "ethics of responsibility" is anthropological; persons are
responders or answerers more than "makers" or "citizens." The theological theme
of "God acting in events" to which persons respond coheres with this, as do
such procedures as the interpretation of events.
(b) Agape is the
supreme moral principle of Christian ethics for Paul Ramsey. Its supremacy is
backed by his interpretation of biblical theology. Since it is a rule term for
him, and since he believes that biblical ethics are deontological, his
practical procedures for making choices cohere with his view of agape.
(c) Luther's theology distinguishes but does not separate the work of
God as creator and as redeemer. His ethics of the civic use of the law and of
an agent-oriented freedom and love cohere with these themes. They are related
to each other; Christians act out of freedom and love in obedience to the law
and in their offices in orders of creation.
(d) Augustine interprets
human action as motivated by desires and directed toward ends. His view of
rightly or wrongly ordered persons and acts coheres with his theological
principle that all things are to be ordered proportionately in relation to God,
the supreme good.
Base points. Comprehensive Christian ethical writings have
four distinguishable base points, or points of reference. They are coherent
insofar as the base points are organized around themes, as stated above. The
base points are:
(1) Theological interpretation in a restricted sense -
that is, the understanding and interpretation of God, God's relations to the
world and particularly to human beings, and God's purposes;
interpretation of the meaning and significance of human experience and history,
of events and circumstances in which human beings act, and of nature;
(3) The interpretation of persons or communities as moral agents, and
of their acts; and
(4) The interpretation of how persons and
communities ought to make moral choices and judge their actions, those of
others, and the states of affairs in the world.
Excerpts taken from "A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics".
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