Faith in a Wounded World

When was the last time you heard a sermon on racism?

When was the last time you heard a sermon on racism?

Racism and prophetic protests against racism are part of the Biblical message. I wonder why we hear so few sermons in our churches about this moral issue. Perhaps Stassen and Gushee (2016) are correct that the dominant white culture (to which I belong) has taken a social evil and neutered it by reducing it to the level of individual relationships while protesting that we are nice people. That argument does not work in groups where we hear the stories of… Keep reading

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership Part 2

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership Part 2

Students in my Christian Ethics class at Ambrose discussed an excerpt from Vaclav Havel’s book Summer Meditations (1992) on Monday. I was not surprised that no one had previously heard of Havel. The relative lack of public recognition of is not surprising. We do not pay much attention to political leaders outside of North America unless they threaten us or represent a major power. Vaclav Havel was president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until 1992 (when the Slovak region separated to form… Keep reading

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership

The Moral Nature of Political Leadership

I am teaching a course on Christian Ethics at Ambrose Seminary. Next week we will discuss ethical issues of political leadership. In preparation for the class, the students are reading an assigned excerpt of Vaclav Havel’s book Summer Meditations ((1992). Havel was a playwright, essayist, and dissident under the communist regime of Czechoslovakia. He spent several years in prison. His movement, the Civic Forum, played an important role in the Velvet Revolution that brought communist rule to an end in… Keep reading

WOA Approach to Ethics: Parts 3&4

WOA Approach to Ethics: Parts 3&4

Part 3: Jesus and the WOA Principle The WOA principle drives the mission of Jesus. He constantly moves to meet people on the margins of the social world of Galilee and Judea. The lack of direct references to widows, orphans, and aliens as vulnerable social groups does not negate our premise that the ethics of the gospel requires us to consider moral issues from the perspective of people in the borderlands. The following examples show the two features of WOA… Keep reading

WOA Approach to Ethics: Part 2

WOA Approach to Ethics: Part 2

Part 2: Defining the Widow, Orphan, and Exile   The traditions contained in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures span a period of almost 2000 years.[1] The mega-narrative has stories of creation, the early patriarchs, delivery from slavery in Egypt, settlement in the new land, the monarchy, a divided kingdom, exile and national humiliation, the return to Palestine, the domination of Greece and Rome, the mission of Jesus, and the birth of the early church. Life is contested and fragile at every… Keep reading

WOA Approach to Ethics: Part 1

WOA Approach to Ethics: Part 1

The WOA Approach to Ethics Gordon King & Rupen Das Rupen Das and I have have been colleagues at World Vision Canada and Canadian Baptist Ministries. He is one of Canada’s leading experts in humanitarian relief and international development. Over the past eight years Rupen has worked in the Middle East with the Lebanese Baptists and, most recently, with the European Baptist Federation based in Amersterdam. We share a mutual concern for people that live on the margins of their… Keep reading

Duty Approach to Ethics Part 2

Duty Approach to Ethics Part 2

Critique of Duty Ethics I will offer five initial observations about the duty approach to ethics and conclude by expressing my concern that “duties” can be defined in ways that actually lead us toward evil in the name of virtue. The principle that each human life has inherent value resonates with our Biblical faith traditions. We believe that each person was created in the image of God (Gen. 1.27). This doctrine asserts that each individual has the dignity of bearing… Keep reading

Duty Approach to Ethics Part 1

Duty Approach to Ethics Part 1

The Duty Approach to Ethics[1] There are two parts to my blog post this week. The first section provides a brief description of the duty approach to ethics. Part 2 offers a personal critique based on my understanding of following Jesus in the context of moral issues and ambiguities. Part 1: Description of the Duty Approach to Ethics Deontological ethics is the technical term for this approach to moral issues. The Greek noun deon can be translated as duty or… Keep reading

Utilitarian Ethics Part 2

Utilitarian Ethics Part 2

The Alberta Carbon Tax. A current issue of public morality in Alberta, Canada is the carbon tax that was implemented in January 2017. This tax requires payment by industry and individuals for the carbon dioxide we place in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels. The rate has been set at $20 per tonne, meaning that gasoline prices rose by 4.5 cents a litre (about 20 cents a gallon in the US).   The government objective is to raise $9.5… Keep reading

Utilitarian Approach to Ethics Part 1

Utilitarian Approach to Ethics Part 1

Utilitarian ethics approaches a moral dilemma by asking a critical question: What action will result in the greatest happiness for the largest number of people? This first part of my article will describe utilitarian ethics and provide a biblical example related to Torah regulations of land ownership. Part 2 will offer a brief perspective on the public issue of a carbon tax in Alberta, Canada and some reflections on the use of utilitarian ethics by followers of Jesus. My presentation… Keep reading