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Christian Ethics (For Religious Studies)
The Word of God
The world has purpose and meaning: `In the beginning God created the
Heavens and the Earth'(Genesis 1)
Morality is an objective reality which is intrinsically part of the nature of
things. God made humans in `His image'. We are responsible moral
agents ultimately answerable to God
We have been endowed with conscience `the voice of God within'
which provides us with an intuitive awareness of right and wrong.
However, according to Genesis 3 this harmony is shattered by `The Fall'
which led to disharmony, disruption, death, disintegration, chaos, conflict,
the burial of conscience and ignorance of Natural Law. This terrible state
is overcome only when God enters into a binding relationship with his
people the Covenant promising to help restore harmony on the
condition that people live according to His commandments
God reveals his standards by means of rules for living which are found in
the Pentateuch (The books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and
Deuteronomy). They are encapsulated by the ten commandments:
1. I am the Lord your God
2. You shall have no other gods before me.
3. You shall not make for yourself a graven image.
4. You shall not take the name of the Lord in vain. Observe the Sabbath day,
to keep it holy.
5. Honour your father and your mother.
6. You shall not kill.
7. Neither shall you commit adultery.
8. Neither shall you steal.
9. Neither shall you bear false witness against your neighbour.
10. Neither shall you covet.
Profound ethical teachings can also be found in the book of Proverbs,
Job, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon (known as Wisdom
literature) and in the utterings of the Prophets (Hosea, Micah, Amos,
Isaiah, Jeremiah) who taught that religion and justice, equality and
compassion are all one and the same.
At the heart of New Testament ethics is the theme of redemption. God,
revealing himself in and through creation, in the law and through his
prophets, now fully reveals himself in human form as Jesus Christ who
lives and dies for the redemption of humankind. The life and teachings of
Jesus become the essence of Christian morality. Christians who want to
discover how best to live only need to look to the example of Jesus who,
according to tradition, is God incarnate. As well as being a moral
exemplar Jesus is also the Messiah ushering in a new kingdom of God.
He is portrayed as being the living exemplar of Kingdom ethics, his
miracles and teachings recorded signs of the kingdom. Jesus is depicted
as proclaiming `light' and `new life' in contrast to darkness and death
teaching a community ethic built on love, forgiveness and loyalty: `Love
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I have loved you' (John 15:12), the essence of the life of
the kingdom being love or agape (selfgiving concern for others).
How does the Bible contribute to ethics?
It gives Christians is a theological basis for moral obligations, in terms of
the individual's obligations to do the will of God.
It provides Christians with an account of the relation of morality and God's
purposes in creation, explaining how God's purpose is hindered by wrong
living and how God's grace can restore righteous living.…read more