Christian ethics BPC resource


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Christian ethics BPC resource

  2. 2. Excerpt from the Gutenberg Bible The foundation of all Christian ethics must begin with the Bible – the Sacred Word of God Particular areas of reference in the Bible for ethical decisions are as follows:
  3. 3. The Bible and Christian Ethics 1. The Ten Commandments from the Old Testament (Deut. 5: 6-22) – given to the Israelites as the Covenant between God and them. 2. The Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5-7) with the Beatitudes as Jesus’ teaching on perfect discipleship. 3. Paul’s letters 4. The life and actions of Jesus on earth. Most Christians share common ethical ideals. Different denominations, however have some variations in their interpretation of what is authority.
  4. 4. Orthodox Ethics Orthodox Christians in general stress the reliance on Biblical authority, but they also place emphasis on the Church Fathers and the early Church Councils (from Nicaea to Constantinople). They might also consult the later Orthodox Fathers of the Eastern Church, such as St Gregory Palamas.
  5. 5. Catholic Ethics The Catholic Church stresses the reliance on Biblical authority, but it also uses other sources. These are: 1. Tradition – the decisions made by the Church hierarchy (bishops and Popes) over the centuries. 2. The Church Councils – in particular, the more recent Councils of Trent, Vatican 1 and Vatican 2. 3. Encyclicals (formal letters) by the Pope and documents tabled by Vatican Offices, such as the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. However, not all Catholics accept the teachings of the Pope or the Bishops. In the end, the Church states that the very last resort is one’s own conscience.
  6. 6. Protestant Ethics In general, Protestant ethics can be divided into 2 groups - Liberals and Evangelicals. LIBERALS 1. Liberal Protestants stress the concept of “situation ethics” 2. The basic concept here is that love is the only thing that is intrinsically good and Christians decisions should always be based on love. 3. Only the END of an action justifies the means, nothing else. What does this mean ? It means that there is no absolute right or wrong and that it all depends on compassion for the person. So, a young woman who is pregnant, but unable to support the child would be helped to get an abortion because it would relieve her suffering.
  7. 7. Protestant Ethics Examples of Liberal Protestants would be Anglicans in areas other than Sydney, certain Uniting Church members, and some Lutherans. Quakers also have a Liberal viewpoint when it comes to ethics. EVANGELICALS 1. These people stress the absolute authority of the Bible. 2. They interpret Scripture in a literal sense and little allowance is given to human fallibility. 3. When an answer is not plainly obvious in the Bible, they will search for related passages and try to make them fit. 4. They would condemn the woman mentioned above, as abortion is considered murder, according to Bible teaching. Examples of Evangelical Protestants are Sydney Anglicans, some Uniting Church members, Baptists, Pentecostals and Presbyterians.
  8. 8. Natural Law Catholic Church teachings on bioethics are based on the Natural Law. This law applies to the whole human race, because every person has Natural Law operating in his/her conscience. The essence of it is to do good and avoid evil. The idea is that human beings instinctively know what is right and wrong and that conscience will guide them (provided that conscience is well informed). The rule which God has prescribed for our conduct is present in Nature itself – because Nature is a product of God Himself. Thomas Aquinas the main proponent of Natural Law
  9. 9. A Consistent Ethic of Life In recent years, the Catholic Church has promoted a consistent ethic of life. This means that we treat all life as sacred in all situations. Thus, if we condemn abortion in any situation, we should also condemn the destruction of life by environmental pollution and the shedding of Life in war or in capital punishment. Pope John Paul II was a strong supporter of this viewpoint.
  10. 10. A Last Note It is important to note that not all Christians follow the dictates of their Church. Many Catholics do not accept the Church’s teachings, particularly on issues such as contraception and certain reasons for abortion. This is because they see the rulings as too absolute and believe there can be exceptions to the rule. Many Protestants may follow the evangelical ruling for issues such as Abortion, but may tend towards the liberal viewpoint when it comes to an issue such as euthanasia. Orthodox followers may have the same characteristics as Roman Catholics.