Heternomous ethics

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  • Heteronomous Ethics
    • means several sources of authority to make ethical decision
    • This is the approach taken by the RCC & Church of England
    • Roman catholic Church
      • uses Thomas Aquinas' natural moral law to create Christian ethical principles. This is heteronomous approach as is mixes different sources
      • eternal law, divine law- the bible, natural law - use of reason, human law
    • Church is also important source of ethics for Roman Catholics
      • Jesus gave authority for teaching & the church to the Apostles Peter - jesus gave him 'keys to heaven'
      • The RCC believes that the spoken teachings of the church are part of this stream of authority called apostles
      • Interpretation of the divine law is one of the jobs of the church
      • "To the church belongs the right always & everywhere to announce moral principles - Church can tell us right & wrong
      • The official teachings of the RCC are called Magisterium - Pope, Cardinals
      • Church leaders gather together to discuss ethical issues & release statements about these issues which encapsulate the collective wisdom of the church, called Pope Encyclicals
      • These statements are seen as moral absolutes for Roman Catholics
      • The church is needed bc humans are sinful
    • How Anglicans see the role of the church creating ethical principles
      • Anglicans take  prima scripture approach - means the bible is the 1st source of Christian ethics, but the church is needed to interpret the bible & create ethical principles
      • The church provides a bridge between the time of jesus & now
      • The bible is interpreted in Christian communities through prayers, worship & preaching
      • Church councils (synods) discuss ethical principles & make statements
      • Ethical principles of the Anglican church have been known to change eg teaching on women in church & sex before marriage
        • reflects changes that are already occurring in communities
    • The Beatitudes (to be made holy) of the sermon on the Mount
      • "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
      • "Blessed are those wo mourn, for they shall be comforted
      • "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth"
      • Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied"
      • "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see god"
      • "Blessed re the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of god"
      • ""Blessed are those who re persecuted for righteous sake, for their is the kingdom of heaven"
      • Stephen Hauerwas
        • Belivees that the interpretation of scriptures can only be done in christian communities
        • Christian ethics are part of a narrative that continue through church history
        • Sermon on the Mount adapts the valurs of the old testament for the community he lived in. in the sermon jesus ientifies virtues & the shows how they can be adopted to dealing w/ dispute in community e.g do not kill'
        • Christians should take this approach in their churches. EG abortion, rather than saying it i sinful churches should act in a way that embodies Christian virtues to support them
    • It means Christians using a combination of the bible, the church & a source of christian ethics
    • Problems
      • which sources should be considered to be legitimate? liberation theology uses Marxist analysis is to help create its principles, the church says this is wrong - but should it be?
      • There are too many sources to consider, How do we decide which to listen to?
      • Which situations make a new interpretation of the bible authentic? who decides?
      • if the journey of Christian tradition is valid, can there be absolute right & wrong actions or is it just what society thinks at the time? does it after?
      • church made of humans, open to corruption & misuse of power
      • Humans reason is equally faulty as humans re sinful


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