Christian Ethics

  1. Absolute
    Moral norm that allows no exceptions (although some say an absolute is binding unless it is overridden by a higher duty in a particular situation); sometimes absolute means a moral norm that applies to the conduct of all human beings.
  2. Consequentialist Ethics
    Often used as another name for telelogical ethics
  3. Deonotological Ethics
    Any view that grounds ethical norms intrinsically, not by looking to results only; an ethic that sees ethical principles as matters of duty
  4. Descriptive Ethics
    The first level of ethical analysis; a statement of what people actually belive and practice that makes no claim about ethical nromativeness; often contrasted to prescriptive ethics.
  5. Descriptive Relativism
    The fact that different people people and cultures have different moral values and practices
  6. Divine Command Theory
    View that God's will grounds ethics; the same as ethical voluntarism.
  7. Emotivism
    A kind of noncognitivism that sees ethical statements as expressions of emotion.
  8. Epistemology
    Investigatoin of the sources, methods, and status of human knowledge claims
  9. Essentialism
    Ethical theory that grounds obligation in the nature of God rather than in the will of God; contrasted to voluntarism or divine command ethics.
  10. Ethical Egoism
    Any teleological ethic that says that one ought to act in self-interest.
  11. Ethics
    Analysis of morality; includes descriptive, normative, and metaethics levels
  12. Metaethical Relativism
    Theory that moral terms and rules of justificatoin are not universal, but relative to specific persons, cultures, or religions.
  13. Metaethics
    Third level of ethical analysis that looks at the meaning of ethical terms and the rules of ethical justification.
  14. Morality
    Dimension of life related to right conduct, including virtuous character, honorable intentions, and right actions.
  15. Noncognitivism
    Any theory that sees ethical principles as cognitively meaningless; an implication of positivism
  16. Normative Ethics
    Same as precscriptive ethics.
  17. Normative Relativism
    View that what is right in one culture or for one person may not be right for another.
  18. Ontology
    Study of the nature of being, of what exists.
  19. Positivism
    View that knowledge is limited to empirically observable facts and definitional statements; judges ethical claims as being meaningless
  20. Prescriptive Ethics
    Second level of ethical analysis that evaluates actions or virtues as being morally right or wrong; same normative ethics and contrasted to descriptive ethics.
  21. Principles
    Broad moral guidelines and precepts that are more foundational and more general than rules.
  22. Relativism
    Stance that sees all ethical beliefs, norms, or methods depending on individual persons or cultures; a denial of absolutes
  23. Rules
    Concrete and specific directives for conduct that derive from pinciples.
  24. Teleological Ethics
    Any view that warrants ethical norms by looking to the nonmoral values the norms bring; a pragmatic ethic.
  25. Universal
    An ethical norm that applies to all persons; sometimes called an absolute.
  26. Utilitarianism
    Teleological ethic based on the principle of utility: one ought to act to maximize the greatest good for the greatest number.
  27. Voluntarism
    In ethics, the view that God's will grounds ethics; the same as divine command ethics; contrasted to essentialism.
  28. Creation Ethic
    Theological approach to justifying ethics that stresses the similarities between Christian thought and the generic modes of thinking that God created in all prsons; contrasts with kingdom ethic.
  29. Kingdom Ethic
    Theological approach to justifying ethical claims that emphasizes the distinctives of Christain ethics and the centrality of biblical teachings; contrasts with creation ethic.
  30. Modernism
    Western cultural mentality, associated with the Enlightenment but now gradually eroding, that stresses the supremacy and objectivity of human reason, the possibility of absolute knowledge, and the inevitability of progress; contrast with postmodernism.
  31. Narrative Ethics
    A postmodern approach to ethics; narrativists prefer concrete storeis as the best means of theological expression (vs. abtract propositions). They focus on developing character (vs. making moral decisions), see the Bible shaping a community's life (vs. providing a set of rules), and justify Christian ethics pragmatically in the life of a community of believers. Narrative stresses the uniqueness of Christain thought and life (vs. the modern view that all though must follow a single correct form of reason).
  32. Natural Law Theory
    Thesis that knowledge of human nature provides a foundation for establishing and understanding moral values and obligations. For Christians, God created human life for certain purposes such that identifying these helps develop and justify a Christain ethic.
  33. Naturalism
    View of ethics asserting that ethical terms and propositions are translatable into factual words and statements; contrasts with nonnaturalism. (Note that ethical naturalism differs from philosophical naturalism or atheism, a world view).
  34. Naturalistic Fallacy
    Inferring normative (prescriptive) conclusions from factual (descriptive) premises alone; deriving the ought entirely from the is.
  35. Nonnaturalism
    Philosophical view of ethics claiming that ethical terms and propositions are not translatable into factual words and statements; contrasts with naturalism.
  36. Pleasure Calculus
    Jeremy Betham's method for identifying a right act by calculating the amount of pleasure the act will produce.
  37. Postmodernism
    Western cultural mentality that emphasizes the presepctival and limited character of human knowing; it justifies truth claims holistically (rather than individually) and pragmatically (rather than through correspondence); contrasts with modernism.
  38. Antinominanism
    Ethical viewpoint that rejects all ethical norms and rules; literally, "against law."
  39. Conflict of Duties
    Another term for a moral dilemma
  40. Generalism
    Theory that consders some ethical norms binding in most situations; however generalism allows that in certain cases all norms are subject to exceptions
  41. Graded Absolutism
    Theory maintaing that when two or more absolute ethical norms come into unavoidable conflict, the right and nonculpable course of action is to follow the higher norm.
  42. Hierarchicalism
    Another name for graded absolutism.
  43. Ideal Absolutism
    Theory stating that when moral dilemmas occur, one's duty is to choose the unavoidable lesser evil and then seek forgiveness for sinning.
  44. Moral Dilemmas
    Situation in which there is a conflict between two or more ethical absolutes.
  45. Nonconflicting Absolutism
    Theory that holds that ethical absolutes do not acutally conflict; God's absolute, properly understood, allow no exceptions.
  46. Norm
    Gernal term indicating a rule, a guide to character and action.
  47. Prima Facie Absolute
    A norm viewd a being exceptionless in the abstract, when considered outside of any real-life context or separate from any situational factors.
  48. Value
    In the moral sense, a quality (such as loyalty, truthfulnes, or justice) that human beings esteem and toward which they direct their moral behavior.
  49. Act-Orientation
    Approach to ethics that emphasizes the uniqueness of particular ethical decisions; contrasted with rule-orientation; also caled situationism.
  50. Antinomianism
    Ethical systems, strongly opposed by biblical teaching, that deny laws or norms; contrasted with legalism.
  51. Contextualism
    Act-oriented view of ethics that stresses the role of unique contexts or situations in determining ethical decisions; often equated with situationsim, but not all contextualists identify with Flethcer's sistuation ethics specifically because of its antinomian tendencies.
  52. Legalism
    Ethical systems, condemned in the Bible, that overemphasize law and develop detailed rules for many specific matters without regard for justice and mercy; legalism tends to universalize normas that are relevant in particular cultures only; contrasted with antnomiansism.
  53. Principlialism
    Ethical approach that applies broad, abstract moral guidelines (principles), in contextually sensitive ways, to general classes of cases.
  54. Rule-Orientation
    View of ethics that classes similar acts into groups and develops general norms to cover all instances in the category; contrasted wtih act-orientation.
  55. Situationsim
    Act-oriented view of ethics; sees ethical analysis applying to individual cases; stresses peronsal responsiblity for a decisions in concrete moral contexts, sometimes also called contextualism.
  56. Reonstructionism
    A movement within conservative Christainity since the 1960s, whose proponents (mostly Reformed and postmillennial) advocate applying the OT as a lawbook for contemporary society; also known as theonomy.
  57. Theonomy
    Literally, "God's Law."
  58. Distributive Justice
    The fair allocation of societal goods and benefits (such as natural resources) and societal burdens (such as taxations) among individuals and social groups.
  59. Human Rights
    A concept with many possible meanings, but most commonly those basic prerogatives, powers, and expectations of all people by virtue of their being human beings in a society.
  60. Justice
    A trait of individuals or societies that seeks to achieve and enforce impartially those conditions that foster human flourishing, by rendering to each person what is due him or her.
  61. Love
    The supreme vitrue, rational, emotional, and volitional, that seeks the highest good of others through self-giving relationships with them.
  62. Natural Laws
    A cluster of ethical theories based on the idea that absolute and universal moral vales and obligations can be determined by relection on human nature and conduct; these principles of obligations are believed to be built into the consitution of all human beings.
  63. Retributive Justice
    The lawful and fair punishment of criminals by society.
  64. Cardinal Virtues
    Prudence, courage, temperance, justice.
  65. Character
    The combination of natural and acquired features and traits that constitute a person's nature or fundamental disposition, from which specific moral reponses issue.
  66. Narrative Ethics
    An approach to the moral life that focuses on an individual's life story, the story or tradition of one's community or group, and the stories of others, and how these shape one's character and influence one's life pattern.
  67. Theological Virtues
    Faith, hope, love
  68. Virtue
    The moral stance or consitution of an individual, consisting of not merely a collection of individual vitures, but the strength of character to coordinate and exercise the vitures in a way that makes them morally praiseworthy.
  69. Virtues
    Specific dispositions, skills, or qualities of excellence that together make up a person's character, and that influence his or her way of life.
  70. What ideas from Scripture does P. use to argue
    for a correct relationship between law and love?
    • No doubt ever appears about the universal
    • applicability and authority of laws commanding and forbidding particular things.
    • John tells us ‘this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments’ (1 Jn.
    • 5:3, 2:3-5, 3:21-24 and Jesus’ words, Jn. 14:15, 21; 15:10).
    • Love of God has priority over neighbor-love.
    • (Matt. 22:37)
    • Neighbor-love is to be directed by law. (Romans
    • 13:8-10). The sixth, seventh, eighth, and tenth commandments. 1 John 5:2
  71. What is the fundamental source of ethical choice
    in B’s system?
    • Evangelical Contextualism; It is the divine commandment, which unites
    • love and truth
  72. How should I go about making a difficult ethical
    choice, according to B.?
    • Search Holy Scripture for possible analogies to
    • our situation, consult with other people, we need to seek to discover the will
    • of God in prayer.
  73. Explain the first “way” L. discusses.
    • That which takes the NT as a book of laws or a
    • summation of codes for human conduct.
  74. Discuss L’s two primary objections to this approach
    • Such an approach does not create moral beings,
    • but only controls the worst features of non-moral behavior
    • Laws require an accompanying body of oral or
    • written interpretations to explicate and apply them in new situations.
  75. Explain the second approach. What is useful
    about it?
    • That which places all the emphasis on the
    • universal principles, which can be found to underlie the NT accounts. Here the particular statements and
    • practices of the NT are not considered binding, but the principles behind them
    • are.
    • It provides a means for appreciating how
    • biblical norms can be applied to changing situations, both in the areas of
    • personal morality and social morality.
  76. What are L’s criticisms of it?
    • Two major problems in particular tend to recur
    • (1) in the search for universal principles it is all too easy to turn biblical
    • theology into philosophy, with Jesus Christ heard only as an echo of Socrates;
    • and (2) Christian ethics often becomes a subcategory of natural law, with the
    • moral imperative of life rooted in man himself and human reason viewed as the
    • main guide for moral judgments.
  77. Explain the third way of using the NT for
    ethical guidance.
    • Place all the stress on God’s free and sovereign
    • encounter through his Spirit with a person as he or she reads Scripture, and
    • the ethical direction given for a particular moment in such an encounter.
  78. Explain the fourth approach
    • Laying primary emphasis on the individual’s
    • response to whatever situations are confronted. Christians can determine what
    • should be done in any particular case simply by getting the facts of the
    • situation clearly in view, and then asking themselves, “What is the loving
    • thing to do in this case?”
  79. Be able to discuss any of the 7 principles
    • a.
    • One should first distinguish between the central
    • core of the message of the Bible and what is dependent upon or peripheral to
    • it.

    • b.
    • One should be prepared to distinguish between
    • what the New Testament itself sees as inherently more and what is not.

    • c.
    • One must make special note of items where the NT
    • itself has a uniform and consistent witness and where it reflect differences.

    • d.
    • It is important to be able to distinguish within
    • the NT itself between principle and specific application.

    • e.
    • It might also be important, as much as one is
    • able to this with care, to determine the cultural options open to any New
    • Testament writer.

    • f.
    • One must keep alert to possible cultural
    • differences between the first and twentieth centuries that are sometimes not
    • immediately obvious.

    • g.
    • One must finally exercise Christian charity at
    • this point. Christians need to recognize the difficulties, open the lines of
    • communication with one another, start by trying to define some principles, and finally
    • have love and willingness to ask forgiveness from those with whom they differ.
  80. What is P’s main practical problem with trying to live by situationism?
    It is not easy, it is very mixed. On one hand it commends itself as making a healthy biblical point, namely that only by love and care for others can we acceptably serve God. But viewed as a method to guide us in choosing our behavior, it appalls, delivering use from centuries of Christian ethical error. But when they treat God’s revealed directives as working rules only, and invite us to hail as good what God calls evil, a different response is called for.
Card Set
Christian Ethics