CORE ETHICAL TEACHINGS CHRISTIANITY
CORE ETHICAL TEACHINGS • Christian “ethics” refers to those moral norms that are seen to be distinctive to Christianity. • “Moral norms” are those guidelines that help the Christian to reflect on his/her moral life and on what actions he/she should take in certain situations. • Christian “ethical teachings” are based on the belief that the human person is an image of God.
CORE ETHICAL TEACHINGS • A human who has intellect, free will and power of self determination. • Most Christian churches stress the importance of both faith and works (good moral actions), along with the central place of community, prayer and sacraments. • Christian “morality” is based on many sources of revelation, but particularly on key passages from the Scriptures such as:
CORE ETHICAL TEACHINGS • The Decalogue or Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17 and Deut 5 :6-21) • The ‘Golden Rule’ (Mt 22: 37- 39) • The Beatitudes (Mt 5-7) • Actions based on love (1 Cor 13:1) • Nature of the Final Judgement (Mt 25) • Living a life of service (Lk 22: 26-27) • Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 13:34)
CORE ETHICAL TEACHINGS • Following the “law of Christ” (Gal 6: 2) as the basis of morality • Uniting our will to God’s, our spirit united with the Holy Spirit (Rom 8: 15-17) • ‘Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Rom 15:7)
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS • The Ten Commandments is also known as the “Decalogue” (ten words from God) • These ten short commandments or guidelines for living are based on God’s direct revelation toMoses on Mount Sinai in Israel ( Ex 20:2-17 and Deut 5: 6-21) • Unlike other parts of the Jewish Scriptures, the Decalogue -
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS • Is the only text understood as being spoken directly by God to the people of Israel and then written directly by God’s hand on two stone tablets. • The first three commandments of the Decalogue refer to the worship of God, while the rest refer to obligations to one’s neighbour and society • The Decalogue is introduced by God’s own words of freedom:
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS • “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me (Ex 20:2) • The Decalogue summed up the type of relationship that Israel should have with God. • For Christians observance of the Decalogue is based on love not fear.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS • The commandments should be viewed as life principles to be internalised by the human heart – not avoided because of perceived punishment and damnation by God. • The practice of virtue is understood as more important than the listing of sins. • In the final analysis, the Decalogue is like a set of ten boundary markers beyond which are sin, alienation, unhappiness and death.
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS • The Decalogue is an important basis for structuring and living the Christian life. • It calls Christians back to loving God alone and loving their neighbours as themselves.
NEW TESTAMENT ETHICS • Jesus and those to whom he was preaching were, of course, well versed in the commandments of the Decalogue. • The teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (which includes the Golden Rule, Mt 7:12)and the Great Commandment (Jn 13:34)are consistent with those of the Decalogue – keeping the commandments leads to life and eternal happiness
THE BEATITUDES • One of the foundations of Christian ethics is the Beatitudes (Latin ‘blessed’) • This is the name in Christianity given to the nine sayings of Jesus in Mt 5: 3-12 and the four in Lk 6: 20-23 – all of which begin with “Blessed are……” • Matthew’s Beatitudes open the Sermon on the Mount, while Luke’s are described as part of the Sermon on the Plain
THE BEATITUDES • In fact, ‘beatitudes’ have their origins in the Jewish Scriptures, where they were understood as declarations of praise or congratulations for an exercise of virtue. • In the Psalms and other wisdom literature in particular, some beatitudes that were praised include: fear the Lord (Ps 1:1), doing justice (Ps 106:3),caringfor the poor(Ps 41:1)and keeping the Sabbath holy (Is 56:2)
THE BEATITUDES • Jesus’ Sermons on the Mount and on the Plain have two different though complementary approaches. • In Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount, Jesus’ main purpose is to “instruct his hearers”. • He delivers “nine” Beatitudes that praise people for various virtues that could be cultivated – for example, poverty of spirit, meekness and hunger for righteousness.
THE BEATITUDES • The final ‘two’ praise people for being persecuted and promise future rewards. • n Luke’s version, Jesus congratulates his listeners for conditions of real poverty, hunger and desolation by promising them future rewards from God. • The ‘four’ consoling Beatitudes are then balanced by ‘four’ threatening woes.
THE BEATITUDES • Beatitudes also appear in other parts of the Christian Scriptures, mainly as words of praise for virtues.
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • Three factors are important in order to understand Jesus’ ethics. • These are: • Repentance as the basis of the ethical life • The radical nature of God’s ethical demand on humanity • The centrality of the love commandment • All are interrelated.
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • Jesus’ command to love does not stand by itself and must be understood in a two-part context. • The first part is the Christian awareness of the Mystery of the hidden God of love who is revealed in the person of Jesus who ministered, was crucified, died and rose from the dead. • The second part of this context is the way in which Christians understand God as the Holy Trinity
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • That is, as Father or Creator, Son and Spirit, the God of love who is Three Persons in One. • Jesus revealed God as Abba – in and through Jesus, God has drawn close to us like a loving Father. • So Jesus’ command to love can only be understood through the insight that God is love. • See 1 John 4:7-12, 17
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • Jesus builds on understandings of ‘love’ in the Jewish Scriptures. • The most characteristic word for ‘love’ in these Scriptures is the Hebrew ‘ahabah’ which refers to a quality or state of personal attachment. • It is marked by constant fidelity, such as that between husband and wife or, more importantly, the ‘steadfast love required between God and Israel through the covenant.(Deut 6:5; Is 54:5)
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • In the Christian Scriptures, this is translated into the Greek ‘agape’ and refers to the boundless love of God (Jn 3:16) who is the source and eternal presence of love. • Jesus preaches a God who is the source and model of love for Jesus and his disciples (Mt 5:48).
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • Jesus proclaims a love that is to bind and distinguish the Christian community (1 Cor 12 -13) and compared to which the individual ultimately will be judged. (Mt 25: 31-46) • In the final analysis, Jesus’ command to love means that the Christians expresses their longings for god and constantly seeks the good of their neighbour.
JESUS’COMMANDMENT OF LOVE • In the synoptic gospels in particular, ‘love’ is connected with the preaching of God’s Reign that arrives in the person of Jesus, and also with the greatest commandment (Mt 22: 34-40) • This type of love unavoidably involves suffering (Lk 6:22 ff) and the Christian is asked to follow in Jesus’ footsteps to the cross (Mt 10:3-7 ff) and beyond to the Risen Christ’s victory over sin and death.