Church Education Trust

Christian Belief

ST008/2 The Basis for Christian Ethics.


The Basis of Christian Ethics.

Non-Christian philosophers and ethical thinkers endeavour to form a basis for Ethics and draw up a system without reference to the real cause of the problems or the real source of the solution. They generally have no belief in an almighty, Personal God. They do the best they can with the material at hand but the Christian Faith goes a step further by supplying what is lacking.

It bases its thought and system on belief in a living, personal God and in the Atoning Work of Christ, which restores us to a right relationship with God and enables us to live the right life.

(a) The True Basis of Christian Ethics lies in the Fact of the Omniscience of God

Natural Philosophy holds that the moral obligation cannot lie in any external law because it is impossible to know what is exactly right and reasonable. As knowledge increases actions and attitudes are questioned and there can be no law which covers all situations.

This is perfectly true and no human law could possibly be produced which is satisfactory; neither could there be any law sufficient to cover every detail of life. The Christian Faith, however, maintains that it is a revealed religion, and on this basis, states first, that while man cannot know what is right and best, the Omniscient God can: second, that God has revealed Himself to the world in the Scriptures and in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Living, Personal God, the Almighty, Who cares, loves and knows the best for His world.

Because He is love and light, what He commands must be in accord with His nature and must be the right and the best. Third, God does not give us a detailed law-sheet for every situation of life, but rather lays down principles for action and the kind of character which is required. Fourth, he is in Himself the Summum Bonum, the Highest Good, and so union with Him is our true Summum Bonum.

(b) The True Basis of Christian Ethics lies in the Fact of Redemption.

Ethics can only lay down rules and ideals; it cannot deal with guilt concerning the past or the present, neither can it do anything to change human nature. The Redemption procured by Christ, however, can do just this. It brings forgiveness and a right relationship with God; it imparts eternal life, a new life altogether; it awakens and imparts love.

The redemption procured by Jesus Christ is the only basis on which the conflict between the "ought" and nature can be resolved. Because human nature is sinful, it often runs contrary to God's will and His claims upon our lives. Only redemption can put this right and enable God's will to triumph.

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