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Situation Ethics PowerPoint Presentation
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Situation Ethics

Situation Ethics

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Situation Ethics

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  1. 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. Situation Ethics • 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)

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

  5. Rationale of Situationism • 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

  6. Rationale of Situationism • 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”

  7. Rationale of Situationism • 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]

  8. Rationale of Situationism • Principles upon which it is based (continued) • Humanism – man is supreme, not laws • Not a 21st 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 (continued) • Claim that ethics is autonomous is a contradiction • Cannot be a situation in which a person could do wrong? • Ethical autonomy and situational morality are mutually exclusive

  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 (continued) • To contend that there is not any ultimate standard of ethical truth, leaves no choice but to accept a relativistic system of ethics

  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 • Words that are absolutistic such as “never,” “always,” “no,” and “only” are to be avoided • Only absolute is “love • Biblical injunctions are only generally or provisionally true • Exceptions to every command and precept

  15. Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher • Three approaches to follow in making moral decisions: • 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

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

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

  18. Situation Ethics: The New Morality by Joseph Fletcher • 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

  19. Fundamental Error in Situational “Reasoning” • Fail to see Bible teaching on the central concern of human beings: love, honor, glorify, & obey God • Eccl. 12:13 • Micah 6:8 • Matt. 22:37 • 1 Cor. 6:20 • 2 Cor. 5:9 • 2 Cor. 10:5 • 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” • Subtle redefinition of “love” • Idea of love is materialistic and secular, rather than scriptural or spiritual • 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 notice

  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: • Living together • Homosexuality • Extramarital sex • Abortion • Divorce • Suicide • Adultery • Lying • Stealing “Freedom in Christ” = relieved of “burden” of a “legal code”

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

  35. Not a blanket prohibition against accusing, disciplining, or punishing Notice • 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)

  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. Then what did His words mean? Notice • 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)

  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. Therefore: • 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)

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

  41. Rahab’s lie is never condoned • Rahab is commended for her obedient faith, in spite of her character flaw • Consider 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) • Error: • Distinction between letter of the law and spirit of the law • May need to violate the letter, in order to keep the spirit Proof Texts

  43. Notice • 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. 3

  44. Context: • “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

  45. Context: • “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

  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 law then • 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. Notice • 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 then See chart, p. 21 in outline

  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)