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CHRISTIAN ETHICS Situation Ethics.  History: Desire to be freed from dictates of higher authority Self-indulgence, freedom from restrictions Dominates.

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Presentation on theme: "CHRISTIAN ETHICS Situation Ethics.  History: Desire to be freed from dictates of higher authority Self-indulgence, freedom from restrictions Dominates."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHRISTIAN ETHICS Situation Ethics

2  History: Desire to be freed from dictates of higher authority Self-indulgence, freedom from restrictions Dominates American moral landscape  Israelites an example (Ex. 32:6, 19)  Prodigal son an example (Luke 15:11-32)

3  History: Desire to be freed from dictates of higher authority Self-indulgence, freedom from restrictions Dominates American moral landscape  Israelites an example (Ex. 32:6, 19)  Prodigal son an example (Luke 15:11-32) Situation Ethics

4  Philosophy that all ethics depend on the immediate situation Situationism (situation ethics) widely accepted by non-believers and believers in God

5  No absolute right or wrong Only love for fellow man is intrinsically good Only malice intrinsically evil  No absolute laws to be kept Every situation is different “Love” makes judgment Principles are only relative Rationale of Situationism

6  With love attitude, law not needed Human judgment the standard, human wisdom the guide – man is autonomous (I.e., self law) Situationist hesitate to define love – usually “concern for neighbor” Rationale of Situationism

7  Principles upon which it is based Pragmatism – end justifies the means Relavitism – Everything is relative to situation, there is no absolute good or absolute evil Subjectivism – Decisions by loving will, not rationalistic thought [fact, logic] Rationale of Situationism

8  Principles upon which it is based Humanism – man is supreme, not laws Rationale of Situationism (continued)  Not a 21 st century phenomenon Traced to Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:4-6)

9 Situation Ethics  The situation ethics of non- believers in God Best set forth in Humanist Manifestos I & II The evolutionary, humanistic system of origins cannot account for any kind of objective moral / ethical system

10 Situation Ethics ?Situation ethics of non-believers in God Cannot be a situation in which a person could do wrong? Ethical autonomy and situational morality are mutually exclusive  Claim that ethics is autonomous is a contradiction (continued)

11 George H. Walser founded town of Liberal, MO Objective: found a town without a church or Christians Clark Braden (1885) wrote article in St. Louis Post- Dispatch, describing how terribly immoral the town had become St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Saturday, May 2, 1885

12 Situation Ethics  The situation ethics of non- believers in God To contend that there is not any ultimate standard of ethical truth, leaves no choice but to accept a relativistic system of ethics (continued)

13 Situation Ethics  The situation ethics of believers in God Cloak their philosophical similarity with atheism by identifying it as the “new morality Chief spokesman is Joseph Fletcher

14 Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher  Words that are absolutistic such as “never,” “always,” “no,” and “only” are to be avoided  Biblical injunctions are only generally or provisionally true Only absolute is “love Exceptions to every command and precept

15  Three approaches to follow in making moral decisions: 1.Legalistic (cf. Absolutism) – there is an absolute, objective standard of right and wrong [grounded in the holy nature of God Himself], set forth in Bible Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher

16  Three approaches to follow in making moral decisions: 2.Antinomian (cf. Nihilism) – there are no rules for human conduct [absolutely none]; according to this ideology, every person is a law unto himself Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher

17  Three approaches to follow in making moral decisions: 3.Situational (cf. Relativism) a.A balance between “antinomianism” (no law) and “legalism” (bound by law) b.“Love” is the sole factor in making moral judgments Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher

18  Twist the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16)  Ethical maxims of his community and its heritage  Fletcher attempts to justify his position with the illustration of a woman who commits adultery in order to get pregnant, and thereby be released from Russian prison and be reunited with her family Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher

19 Fundamental Error in Situational “Reasoning” 1.Fail to see Bible teaching on the central concern of human beings: love, honor, glorify, & obey God a.Eccl. 12:13 b.Micah 6:8 c.Matt. 22:37 d.1 Cor. 6:20 e.2 Cor. 5:9 f.2 Cor. 10:5 g.1 Pet. 4:11

20  Fletcher silent concerning this  While love for fellow man is essential (Lk. 10:25-37), it must be viewed subsumed beneath responsibility of loving God  Can’t love God if not love fellow man (1 Jn. 4:20-21)  Bible reveals how to love God and fellow man – do’s and don’ts (1 John 5:3; John 14:15)

21  Thus, love for fellow man is not the only intrinsic good  Bible teaches: Intrinsic good includes love for others But, love for God supercedes (Matt. 22:35-37)  God defines [in Bible] what love entails toward God and man

22 Fundamental Error in Situational “Reasoning” 2.Subtle redefinition of “love” a.Idea of love is materialistic and secular, rather than scriptural or spiritual b.Fletcher: love is what each decides is good and best in a given situation

23  Fletcher makes love and law mutually exclusive Bible teaches law and love are mutually interrelated Love preceded by faith and followed by obedience (Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 2:3-5; 4:19-21; 5:2f) Love acts in harmony with the will of God

24  Fletcher’s perception of love is self-contradictory: “love” is the sole factor in making moral judgments  Two quotes from Norman Geisler  Fletcher: man and circumstances are criteria or defining morality, not God  Bible does not place law and love in contradistinction to each other noticenotice

25  Can’t love without law  “Love is the fulfilling of the law” (Rom. 13:19): Verse is not saying love while dispensing with law [Fletcher] But, when behave in genuine loving manner, you are in harmony with the law If we treat law as optional, then undermine foundation of love

26  Fletcher assumes love is no-rule cure-all for all moral problems Like two football teams playing game with no rules except “fairness” Fairness according to whom: teams? Referees? Spectators? Sports writers? This line of argument is utter nonsense

27  Situationism assumes that each one is able to always precisely predict what is the most loving course to take Who can foretell consequences for all parties in what we do? Christian ethics means more than solving the immediate problem

28 Who is able to foretell in advance consequences of lying, adultery,murder, etc. Dr. William Banowsky – case of Mrs. Bergmeir Wayne Jackson – scenario Wayne Jackson - martyrs

29  Love is sole factor in making moral judgments – yet unable to define love, it is purely subjective  “There are absolutely no absolutes” is oxymoron  With inability to define love, the absolute of love does not seem to be absolute

30  Situationism – man is standard of morality Human mind, with its subjective perceptions of the surrounding moral environment (cf. Jer. 10:23)  “Love” = “personalism” = highest good is welfare and happiness What man thinks will make him happy, not what God reveals

31  Situationism: sin not transgress of of God’s law (cf. 1 John 3:4) – but withholding what is perceived to be means of happiness  By Fletcher’s definition of sin, many thought to be sinners in Bible were acting lovingly: Eve, Cain, Lot and Lot’s wife, Nadab and Abihu, Balaam, Saul, Uzzah

32 Fletcher’s definition of sin makes many thought to be righteous were actually sinners, unloving toward their fellowman: Noah, Joseph, Joshua and Caleb, Phinehas, Joshua, John the baptizer

33 Revealing Illustrations of Situationism Situationist approves of: Divorce Suicide Adultery Lying Stealing Living together Homosexuality Extramarital sex Abortion “Freedom in Christ” = relieved of “burden” of a “legal code”

34 Situation Ethics Adulterous Woman (Jn. 8:1-11) Proof Texts  Error: God is not “technical” – Jesus released from strictness of God’s law in order to forgive

35  Law stated must 3 witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:15)  Law stated both man & woman to be executed (Deut. 22:22)  “He who is without sin…cast the first stone” (v. 7)NoticeNotice Not a blanket prohibition against accusing, disciplining, or punishing

36 Discipline commanded (Rom. 16:17; 1 Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1-2; 2 Ths. 3:6,14; Tit. 3:10; 2 Jn. 9-11) Jesus passed judgment (Matt. 15:14; 23; John 8:44, 55; 9:41) Jesus enjoined followers to do the same (John 7:24) Apostles judged (Acts 8:23; 1 Cor. 5:12-13) Matt. 7:1, 5; cf. John 7:24

37  Law stated must 3 witnesses (Deut. 17:6; 19:15)  Law stated both man & woman to be executed (Deut. 22:22)  “He who is without sin…cast the first stone” (v. 7)NoticeNotice Then what did His words mean? Then what did His words mean?

38 Like Paul (Rom. 2:1, 22), exposing hypocrisy, which disqualifies their action (Matt. 7:5 – cf. Gal. 6:1) They and her adulterous partner conspired this plot Now, no witnesses, therefore no first stone (Deut. 17:7; cf. John 8:10-11) “Sin no more” (v. 11)

39  Jesus avoided the trap - showed respect for the law  He did not break law in order to forgive – this would relegate law to secondary importance (cf. Dt. 6:24; 10:13; Psa. 19:7-11; Rom. 7:12)  Jesus only person to comply to Law perfectly (Mt. 5:17; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15) Therefore:

40 Situation Ethics Rahab’s lie (Josh. 2:4-6) Proof Texts  Error: Rahab is commended for her lie (Heb. 11:31; Jas. 2:25)

41 Rahab’s lie is never condoned Rahab is commended for her obedient faith, in spite of her character flaw 8Consider the immoral, pagan culture she was just now leaving God’s word condemns all lying (Rev. 21:8)

42 Situation Ethics The Spirit and Letter of the law (2 Cor. 3:4-18) Proof Texts  Error: Distinction between letter of the law and spirit of the law May need to violate the letter, in order to keep the spirit

43  This error breeds relaxed attitude toward obedience  See misuse of 2 phrases (vs. 6, 17)  Assume “letter” = command; “spirit” = attitude, feelings – spirit is to over-ride letter  Must consider entire context of 2 Cor. 3NoticeNotice

44  “letter” = O. T.; “spirit” = N. T. (cf. Rom. 2:29; 7:6) – see chart, p. 18 of outline  O. T. legal system unable to provide ultimate forgiveness  Took Jesus’ death to make life [cleansing of sin] possible  Thus, these verses have nothing to do with “spirit vs. letter” contention Context:

45  “letter” = O. T.; “spirit” = N. T. (cf. Rom. 2:29; 7:6) – see chart, p. 18 of outline  O. T. legal system unable to provide ultimate forgiveness  Took Jesus’ death to make life [cleansing of sin] possible  Thus, these verses have nothing to do with “spirit vs. letter” contention See McGarvey article, p. 19 in outline Context:

46  If use “spirit of law” = attitude, and “letter of law” = obedience to Bible, one can disregard the spirit of law while following the letter of lawthenthen  Love includes obedience (Jn. 14:15) – then possible to obey without love, but not vice versa  Thus to say love legitimizing disobedience contradicts Bible

47  If use “spirit of law” = attitude, and “letter of law” = obedience to Bible, one can disregard the spirit of law while following the letter of law  Love includes obedience (Jn. 14:15) – then possible to obey without love, but not vice versa  Thus to say love legitimizing disobedience contradicts Bible thenthen See chart, p. 21 in outline NoticeNotice

48  To emphasize one dimension of obedience over the other is to displease God  Examples of those who possessed form without sincerity: Pharisees (Mt. 23:3) Ananias & Sapphira (Acts 5:2-4) Israel (Amos 5:21-24)

49  Examples of those who possessed sincerity without form: Paul (Acts 22:3; 23:1) Cornelius (Acts 10:1f) Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:6) Nadab & Abihu (Lev. 10:1-3) Sabbath breaker (Nu. 15:32-36) Moses (Nu. 20:11f) Saul (1 Sam. 13:13f; 15:12f)

50 ?O. T. examples are illustrations to not disobey (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) ?Obedient faith is acceptable (Heb. 11; James 2) ?Worship in truth (John 4:23f)

51 Situation Ethics Plucking Corn on the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8) Proof Texts  Error: Disciples broke the Sabbath David was justified when he disobeyed “Love Jesus vs. love the law”

52  Shifts standard for decision making to emotion, feelings, and subjective perception  Truth: not either/or but both/and (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 5:3; 1 Th. 2:10)  Why would God give His law and then have us ignore it  Man incapable of determining right on his own (Jer. 10:3, Prov. 21:2; 16:2)

53  Disciples’ action lawful (Matt. 12:7; cf Dt. 23:25; Ex. 12:16)  Jesus illustrates their hypocrisy and prejudice with case of David While tired and hungry, David lied and deceived (1 Sam. 21) Bread for priests only (Lev. 24:8f; cf. Ex. 29:31-34) Pharisees honored David, but condemned disciples Meaning of Matt. 12:1-8:

54  Jesus noted priests worked in temple on Sabbath (12:5; e.g., Num 28:9-10) Blameless (v. 5) because their work was authorized [see examples on p. 26 in outline] “Profane” – by assumed appearance only (e.g., Gen. 37:10; Lk. 2:48; Jn. 6:42; 1 Cor. 1:21; Gen. 18:16; 19:10) Meaning of Matt. 12:1-8:

55  Jesus next notes that if priests can serve God on Sabbath, so He and His disciples (vs. 6-8)  Service to Jesus is greater than temple service  “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6) – statement against mere superficial observance of law (cf. Mt. 15:6; 23:23; Micah 6:6-8; 1 Sam. 15:15) Meaning of Matt. 12:1-8:

56  Jesus next notes that if priests can serve God on Sabbath, so He and His disciples (vs. 6-8)  Service to Jesus is greater than temple service  “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6) – statement against mere superficial observance of law (cf. Mt. 15:6; 23:23; Micah 6:6-8; 1 Sam. 15:15) Meaning of Matt. 12:1-8: If Pharisees had understood these things, they would not have accused the disciples of Sabbath breaking (v. 7)

57  Jesus concludes by asserting the accuracy of His message (v. 8)  Confirms His deity, authoritative credibility for making accurate application of the Law of Moses  Mt. 12 does not sanction violation of His law under extenuating circumstances Meaning of Matt. 12:1-8: NoticeNotice

58 His laws never optional, relative, or situational (e.g., Jn. 6:60; Mt. 11:6; 15:12; 19:22; Mk. 6:3; 1 Cor. 1:23) If heart is receptive to God’s will, His will is not a burden (Mt. 11:30; Dt. 30:11; 1 Jn. 5:3) If heart resists His will, God’s word is a burden (Mt. 15:12; Jn. 6:60; Mt. 7:14; Jer. 23:29; Mt. 21:44)

59 Situation Ethics “Legalism” Proof Texts  Error: If do not have open attitude toward morals [i.e. situationalism] then one is “intolerant,” “mean- spirited,” “negative,” “lacks compassin,” “legalistic”

60  To situatiionist “Legalism” = too much attention to legal details, complete obedience  “legalism” not occur in Bible  Those spoken of as “legalist” because they trusted their own righteousness (Lk. 18:11f; Prov. 25:27; Rom. 12:3) – merit salvation (Lk. 17:10; Rom. 3:9- 18, 23; 11:35; 1 Cor. 9:16)

61  To situatiionist “Legalism” = too much attention to legal details, complete obedience  “legalism” not occur in Bible  Those spoken of as “legalist” because they trusted their own righteousness (Lk. 18:11f; Prov. 25:27; Rom. 12:3) – merit salvation (Lk. 17:10; Rom. 3:9- 18, 23; 11:35; 1 Cor. 9:16)NoticeNotice

62  God condemns the proud who trusts in his own goodness, merits God’s grace (Lk. 18:9-14; Rom. 9:31-33)  God commends faithfulness (John 14:15; Rom. 2:6-7, 13; 6:16; Heb. 5:9)  Difference between the above is attitude – which only God can perceive (Lk. 6:8)

63 Pharisees – example of legalism Pretended devotion (Mt. 23:4-7, 25-28) Neglected biblical matters of greater importance (Mt. 23:23f; Lk. 11:42) Misrepresented Mosaic law (Mt. 5:17-48) – elevating human traditions (Mt. 15:1-9; Mk. 7:1-13) – say & do not (Mt. 23:2)

64 Pharisees – example of legalism Pretended devotion (Mt. 23:4-7, 25-28) Neglected biblical matters of greater importance (Mt. 23:23f; Lk. 11:42) Misrepresented Mosaic law (Mt. 5:17-48) – elevating human traditions (Mt. 15:1-9; Mk. 7:1-13) – say & do not (Mt. 23:2)NoticeNotice

65 Not condemned because they were too zealous about strict obedience to God’s will! God always approved those who gave great care to please Him by obeying details (Lev. 10:1-3; 2 Sam. 6:1-7; 1 Chron. 15:12f)

66 Situation Ethics 1 Corinthians 6:12; 10:23 Proof Texts  Error: statement is proof that moral absolutes are not binding in all situations

67  Paul referring to legality of eating foods sacrificed to idols in contrast with the expediency of doing so in light of weaker brothers  Teaching must be willing to make concessions on indifferent, lawful matters for the sake of weak Christians

68  Not saying no absolute laws, nor God’s law can be set aside on occasions  “All things are lawful for me” – referring to things that are legally optional


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