Faith in a Wounded World

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

Virtue Ethics Part 3

Virtue Ethics Part 3

What is distinct about a Christian virtue ethic? As mentioned previously, Christians do not have a monopoly on virtue ethics. However, we should be confident that we have an important contribution to make to the broader discussion. We can be grateful for the work of scholars like Alasdair McIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and Jonathan Wilson in emphasizing the importance of the development of virtues for the life and witness of the church. Here I will offer a few suggestions: drawing on… Keep reading

Virtue Ethics Part 2

Virtue Ethics Part 2

Christians have no sense of “ownership” on virtues and virtue ethics. When Paul penned his message to the Galatians, he was aware that four centuries earlier the Greek philosopher Aristotle had emphasized the importance of virtues. Aristotle distinguished between: Intellectual virtues: Traits that help us to think and reason well. Moral virtues: Qualities that help us to live and act well in community. Aristotle taught that virtues required practice; they could not simply be learned in an academy. He introduced… Keep reading

Virtue Ethics Part 1

Virtue Ethics Part 1

Virtue ethics offers a distinct approach to moral issues by concentrating on the character of social agents rather than an analysis of a particular dilemma. The foundational principle is that the actions of virtuous people will be morally sound and noble in nature. I will attempt to briefly outline and evaluate the virtue ethics position in three blog posts. The Christian faith has emphasized virtue ethics through the centuries. A good example is found in the New Testament in Galatians… Keep reading

Two Approaches to Ethics – Egoism and Altruism

Two Approaches to Ethics – Egoism and Altruism

Each day we are required to make a variety of moral decisions. The way we analyse different options is often based on intuition shaped by experience, family backgrounds, culture, and faith traditions.  For Christians, ethics is part of our commitment to follow Jesus into a broken world. We live in an age in which the lives of most Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of others in our broader culture. Accordingly, a focus on ethics is important if we wish… Keep reading

Ezekiel 34: A Message for Leaders

Ezekiel 34: A Message for Leaders

Regine and I have moved from Winnipeg to Calgary last week. The movers are delayed in delivering our furniture. We are living in a house that looks attractive from the outside but is cold and empty on the inside. There are none of the usual things that make a home feel warm and inviting. I wonder if this is a symbol of what is happening in our communities, regions, and countries. There is a strong current of withdrawal from public… Keep reading

Spiritual Disciplines of Boards and Committees

Spiritual Disciplines of Boards and Committees

Spiritual practices can nurture groups as well as individual followers of Jesus. However, when it comes to boards and committees, it often seems that “the devotional moment” is a formality or a distraction before we get down to the real work. Accordingly, we may rush through a reflection and prayer with a certain impatience waiting for the time when we can deal with the real reason that we are gathered. I submit that too often the inadequate content of the… Keep reading