Tuesday, April 17, 2018

10. Christian Ethics

10.1 Rule of Faith
  • Matthew 22:3-40 sums up the entire ethic of Scripture--Love God and love neighbor. 
  • The love command is an absolute. There are no exceptions.
  • The love of neighbor never contradicts love of God. That is to say, there are never exceptions made to the love of neighbor in order to love God. Love of neighbor is the primary way in which love of God manifests itself.
  • To "love neighbor as self" implies a healthy self-respect as someone made in the image of God.
  • Biblical ethics, like biblical theology, is a function of the Bible as a whole, not of individual verses. Individual verses are contextual, more likely to be ambiguous, and stand in a flow of revelation getting more and more precise. Biblical theology and ethics look to the overall voice of Scripture.
10.2 Love God
  • God is the ultimate telos of all things. "The chief end of man is to glorify God and serve him forever" (Westminster Confession). "For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever!" (Rom. 11:36).
  • 1 Cor.  10:31 - Do everything to the glory of God.
  • Col. 3:17 - Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.
  • Rom. 14:7-8 - Whether we live or die... we are the Lord's
  • We must have no other gods before him (1st commandment - Deut. 5:6-8, 11)
  • We must not make any idols, any substitutes for him, any competition with him, any inferior conception of him (such as mistaking the Bible which gives witness to him for him).
  • We show the love of God by loving one another (1 John 5:3; John 15:12).
  • Are there areas of loving God beyond love of neighbor? Perhaps - love of God's creation, for example.
  • Are there "cause God said so" commands, without any purpose other than to test our obedience? Structures of the family? Sexual expressions? It would seem more likely that any expectation of God along these lines is a manifestation in some way of his love for his people and his creation.
  • Justice does not contradict God's love. Justice is 1) redemptive and restorative, 2) protective of his people or the world, or 3) a final abandonment of that which is no longer redeemable.
  • Note that the New Testament does not retain the Sabbath command for Gentiles (Rom. 14:5; Col. 2:16). 
10.3 Love Neighbor
  • The love command is the pervasive ethic of the New Testament. It is the sum of the Law in the Gospels (Matt. 22:39-40; Mark 12:29-31; Rom. 13:8-10; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8; 1 John 4:7-8).
  • Matt. 5 indicates how the love command is the filter for all the other laws of the Old Testament. The authority of Scripture flows through this command. Some commands become deeper as a result--hatred becomes murder, lust becomes adultery, divorce becomes adultery. Others become irrelevant--truth-telling doesn't need vows. Still others fall away--don't "eye for an eye."
  • Parable of Good Samaritan--we are to love those we most want to hate. Matt. 5:43-48 - love your enemy.
  • Love is not a feeling. It is not liking someone. Is long term, not just short term. Sometimes "must be tough." Should be corporate and structural as much as we can bring it about, not merely individual.
  • Do not kill... in fact do not hate (Matt. 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15-17)
  • What about war? capital punishment? self-defense? euthanasia? suicide? abortion?
  • Do not commit adultery... in fact don't fantasize (Matt. 5:27-30). Divorce is legal adultery (Matt. 5:31-32).
  • Sexual issues - pre-marital sex (undermines stability of family/society?), homosexual sex (undermines the stability of the family/society?), post-marital sex (undermines the stability of the family/society?) - Matt. 19:5-6
  • Do not steal... Exod. 22:1; Eph. 4:28 -- stealing undermines trust, threatens survival and thriving. This is however far from an endorsement of unregulated capitalism.
  • The value of work - Gen. 1:28; 2 Thess. 3:10-12
  • Everything belongs to the Lord - Ps. 50:12; Hag. 2:8; Mal. 3:8-10
  • When we have excess - 2 Cor. 8:9, 13-14; 9:6-7; against hording Luke 12:15-21; Acts 2:44-45; James 1, 2, 4, 5
  • Be a truth-teller - don't lie in court (9th commandment), Eph. 4:25; Matt. 5:33-37
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ
Chapter 6: Salvation
Chapter 7: The Holy Spirit
Chapter 8: The Church
Chapter 9: Eschatology

1 comment:

Scott D. Hendricks said...

Thou art a hair's breadth from Calvin; I, a mere step from self-absorption.