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Scriptures, Tradition, and Reason in Christian Ethics


Commonsense tells us something about what Christian ethics may look like. For Christians, certain things are fixed, for example, about God (Gen. 1.1; Ps. 18.30; Ps. 50.6; Ps. 116.5; Jn. 1.5), the Fall (Gen. 3), and Christ’s life, death (Matt. 27.32–56), and resurrection (Matt. 28.1–10). Moreover, in his social teaching, Christ commands: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt. 22.37–40). Thinking together creation, God’s self-revelation, and Jesus’s social teaching, Christians are instructed: “[b]eloved, since God loves us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn. 4.11–12). Despite the gram- mar of creation and commandment to love one another, however, there is seemingly intractable disagreement on how best to understand Christian ethics in its normative and practical dimensions. For example, what normative theory (if any) should be used to articulate the Christian ethical life? What sorts of demands (and what difference) do Christian commitments make when confronted with one or another practical dilemma?


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