Christian Ethics

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  • Created by: rakso181
  • Created on: 26-05-16 14:14

Christian authority

- The Bible - Protestants use the Bible for moral guidance as it is the word of God 

- Faith - Lutherans make moral decisions 'per sola fide' (by faith alone)

- Magisterium and tradition - Catholics use this more as moral guidance 

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Old Testament ethics

- Based on strict traditional laws

- Conformity of human behaviour to the will of God 

- God has righteous indignation


- Deuteronomy 27: 9-10 'so obey him and keep his laws that I am giving you today'

- Hosea 6:6 'I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices' 

- The story of Abraham and Isaac - an example of people following the law over agape or reason

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Jesus' ethics

- Love is the fulfilling of the law

- Based on the love of God and neighbour 

- More flexible than the OT

- Sometimes broke traditional laws


- 'In everything do to others as you would have them do to you'

- 'The Sabbath was made for the good of human beings; they were not made for the Sabbath'

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Paul's ethics

- Based on love - admits love is limited without the Holy Spirit 

- Says we should act the same way as Jesus did with the guidance of the Holy Spirit  - we can only have a good relationship with God by trusting in Jesus 

- The Holy Spirit is more important than traditional laws

- Highlights the importance of reason


- 'Let love make you serve one another'

- 'Trust in the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved'

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Joseph Fletcher (1905-95)

- Founder of Situation Ethics

- Influenced by Christianity, being a theist

- Wrote 'Situation ethics, the new morality' 1963

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Situation Ethics

- Make decisions based on what is the most loving thing to do (agape love)

- Agape = unconditional love

- Most of the time, the most loving thing to do is to obey the law - if it isn't then it is okay to break the law

- Paul - 'let love make you serve one another'


  • Relativistic
  • Encourages Absolutism
  • Deontological
  • It is our nature to want to do the right thing


  • Love is subjective and can sometimes be wrong
  • Cultural relativism
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Dietrich Bonheoffer (1906-45)

- German Lutheran Pastor 
- Executed by Nazis for attempting to assassinate Hitler
- Was a Situationist - willing to violate Christian Law to do the most loving thing 
- Killing is against Christian law but was willing to kill Hitler as it was the most loving thing to do

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Euthyphro Dilemma

- Devised by Plato to question the morality of the Gods

- Is something good because God commands it or does god command something because it is good?

- Because God commands it - his commands could become arbitrary - what do we do if he orders abhorrent commands?

- God commands it because its good - there is a higher moral code above God and outside his power that he must command

- Divine Command Theory - Humans are powerless and should obey all of God's laws and commands - 'We are simply obeying a tyrant who commands us to obey' Bowie

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