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What is ethics?....continued

Deeper definition of Christian Ethics Excerpts taken from "A New Dictionary of Christian Ethics".

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;

(2) The 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".

Index to the topic

What is ethics?
A definition
A deeper definition of ethics
A deeper definition of Christian ethics
Why should we bother about ethics
The root of Christian ethics
    a) relationship
    b) freedom
    c) love
    d) responsibility
The Bible in Christian ethics

Other Material
1. Ethics by David J Garrard

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