Moral principles

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  • Moral Principles
    • The Bible as the only source of authority for Christian ethical practices
      • Only source of living a good life must be revealed by God himself. This is called theonomous Christian ethics and for many Christians the only source of God's moral commands is the Bible
      • Sola Scripture means scripture alone and it stands for the doctrine that the Bible is the supreme authority in all matters and practice God's biblical ethical commands. behind this belief is the idea that scripture is self authenticating
      • Some Christians consider the Bible to be the literal word of God. It is almost like it was dictated by God and not the scribes= amanuensis. The Bible has authority because it was inspired by God
      • Richard Mouw = The Bible looses authority if only using love for moral decisions - you have to be able to use the Bible as its from God
        • For Christians using the Bible this way, their approach to life is framed by the commandment-s and teachings
      • Strengths of viewing the Bible as the only source
        • Helping make moral decisions through Jesus' teachings
        • if read objectively it provides a unifying view
        • If you take this as being God given, this is a text with authority
      • Criticisms of viewing the Bible as the only source
        • Might not be applicable to today's society
        • Contradictions arise e.g teachings on divorce
        • it is impossible reading the Bible straight without making any interpretations. You cannot detach yourself from your own experiences
    • Bible,Church and reason as sources of Christian ethical Practices
      • The Bible is a significant source of authority of christian ethics, but our understanding of the world is very different for the biblical writers, and the ethical issues raised by modern science and technology are so different form biblical times that modern Christians have to use reason to reflect and consider how to apply Christian principles in new situations
      • This is why some Christians consider that ethics must be a combination of biblical teaching, church teaching, and human reason. This is a heteronmous view of christian ethics because it considers there are several sources of christian moral authority
      • Hays and spohn argue that you cannot examine scripture without reference to the church communities
      • The Hermenutic Circle is about understanding and interpreting a text and Schliermacher'-s main point is that the task of interpretation is never ending like a circle
        • 1, we need to understand the individual words and be able to see how they function in the overall passage
          • 2. we need to see how the ideas in the passage function in the wider scheme of the authors thought
            • 3. we need to see how the text applies to our situations
        • The Key thing about it is that it is never ending. We can always improve our understanding of the language and this will shape how we read the passage. We constantly gain new insights into the authors intention
          • he makes it clear that a text doesn't have one fixed meaning and therefore some degree of eisegies and exegies is essential. Interpreting the Bible is like a conversation between the reader and the text
      • Roman Catholic Tradition
        • Christian ethics are not confined to the Bible's divine law but are accessible through the natural world, reason, conscience and church authority = natural law. It is based on that God is the creator of the world and gives it order and purpose
          • Morality is also informed by the traditions and practices of the church. The pope publishes a Papal encyclical on contemporary moral issues,
        • Protestants concerns
          • That the Bible has the same authority as the tradition
            • Perhaps following tradition is a distraction from the Moral commands found in the Bible
      • Protestant Traditions
        • The Bible is a primary source of authority. It did not appear as a single document, but evolved over time and developed out of the reflections and needs to communities, then ethics should continue in the worshipping community and be guided by reason, conscience and church tradition
          • The Bible comes first = prima scriptura but not the only source of understanding, tradition is an interpretation of scripture that should be listened to and practised
            • The key idea is that influences are combined when decisions are made about moral questions
      • Criticisms of the Bible, Church and Reason approaches
        • Jesus' attitude to tradition
          • Phillip turner notes that paradosis are sometimes criticised by Jesus.Usually they are to do with the Jewish elders that Jesus contrasts unfavourably with the word or commandment of God. Jesus talks about Jewish traditions whereas St Paul is talking about how Christian tradition is to be passed. Turner suggests these references to traditions in fact mean interpretations of the law, rather than the law itself.
        • Concerns about the exclusion of women's perspectives
          • Feminist Rosemary Radford Ruther argues that both tradition and the Bible are shaped almost exclusively by male experiences of life, which means the universality and authority of tradition can be questioned because it excludes women's experiences. The current tradition  and interpretation of the Bible is one sided, partial and incomplete
      • Reason
        • Reason is needed to make sense of experience and to respond to it, process and reflect on the Bible and tradition and apply the guidance obtained from those sources to the problem
        • Concerns
          • Reason is sometimes viewed suspiciously by Christians as an attempt to create some distance from the sources of the Bible and tradition. It can be linked to the rise of reason in the Enlightenment, as science developed systems of thought separate from any biblical basis. Christians who rely on the Bible alone are sceptical of such sources
        • Christians need to negotiate between the world of the New Testament and their particular world in the present to find a way of making moral decisions. Some factors may be more important e.g St Paul and his views on men and women
        • Reason can produce different interpretations of the Bible and result in differing Church traditions and different responses to ethical decision making e.g. catholic and Quaker views on war
    • Love (agape)as the only Christian ethical principle which governs Christian Practices
      • Some Scholars argue that ultimately Jesus' only command was to love, and it is for human reason to decide how to apply that command, rather than follow a list of rules. For Rudolf Bultmann, the challenge of Christian moral behaviour is to move beyond laws and judgements to forgiveness based on love.
      • Pope Francis has not changed Catholic moral teaching but he has altered the approach taken when applying moral teaching to different situations and issues. In the Joy of Love he writes about the many different crises that beset people in the Bible from the first page onwards. He advocates a more compassionate approach, questioning attempts to control, people using rules.He thinks the Bible contains both wisdom about the rules of marriage and family life. Francis advocates moral guidance grounded in love, recognising the rules of the christian tradition but also the challenges of modern life and the difficulties if human relationships.
    • Christian Moral principles
      • Christians take different approaches to moral decision making
      • They might draw on the Bible= to be followed and obeyed. They might rely on their church tradition and reason to guide how they understand the bible and God. Both deontological
      • Situational approach is where they would follow a guide of love than a list of rules
      • The bible is an important moral source= contains rules, principles and symbols
      • Sola Scripture= the Bible alone is the source of the ethical commands to be followed
      • Catholic approaches
        • Sacred tradition is separate stream of moral guidance
        • Reason for Catholics can also offer direct access to moral teachings of God
        • One source and one revelation -  must be mutually interpreting and connecting
        • Puts tradition first then the Bible followed by Magisterium and then reason
      • Protestant approaches
        • Their is a view that does see the Bible, church and reason as all having a part to play in interpreting the moral messages of Jesus in today's world
        • Reason is needed to make sense of scripture and tradition
        • Bible first and then some emphasis on tradition and then reason
  • Criticisms of viewing the Bible as the only source
    • Might not be applicable to today's society
    • Contradictions arise e.g teachings on divorce
    • it is impossible reading the Bible straight without making any interpretations. You cannot detach yourself from your own experiences

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