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Christian ethics

DT2007

This module offers philosophical background, and the characteristics of Christian ethics in relation to the basic Christian doctrines concerning God, humankind and society.

Topics covered

How ought we to live? How do we assess difficult moral situations? Does being a Christian make a difference to the decisions we make?

The study of Christian ethics seeks to provide some answers to these general questions as well as looking at areas of particular difficulty, and will draw on previous work – biblical, philosophical and historical – that you have undertaken in the course of your degree.

Learning outcomes

If you complete the course successfully, you should be able to:

  • Show knowledge and understanding of key texts, definitions, concepts, doctrines and theories.
  • Demonstrate an awareness of different approaches/interpretations/versions.
  • Outline the objections to key concepts, e.g. natural rights, natural law.
  • Explain distinctions between key concepts and attitudes, e.g. ‘male’ and ‘female sins’, ‘domination’ and ‘dominion’.
  • Discuss critically different debates and conflicts in Christian ethics.
  • Outline some of the difficulties of interpreting biblical texts for today’s moral issues.
  • Outline and discuss arguments given for and against contemporary moral issues.
  • Conduct a systematic analysis of texts and ideologies and to debate the issues in an open-minded way.
  • Show a developing ability to assess texts from socio-cultural and historical perspectives.
  • Construct a balanced account and assessment of opposing views.

Assessment

Three-hour examination.

Indicative reading list

  • Anderson, Terence R. ‘Environmental ethics’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.196–98.
  • Cahill, Lisa Sowle ‘Abortion’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.1–5.
  • Childress, James F. ‘Sin(s)’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.585–86.
  • Deidun, Tom ‘The Bible and ethics’ in Hoose, B. (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0303702641] pp.1–46.
  • Evans, Mark Just war theory: a reappraisal. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2005) [ISBN 9780748620753].
  • Gill, Robin (ed.) The Cambridge companion to Christian ethics. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000) [ISBN 9780521779180].
  • Gula, Richard M. ‘Conscience’ in Hoose, B. (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0303702641] pp.110–22.
  • Gula, Richard M. What are they saying about moral norms? (New York: Paulist Press, 1982) [ISBN 0809124122].
  • Hannon, Patrick ‘Morality and law’ in Hoose, B. (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0304702641] pp.186–98.
  • Hare, R.M. ‘Utilitarianism’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.640–43.
  • Hoose, Bernard (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0303702641].
  • Hoose, Bernard ‘The punishment of criminals’ in Hoose, B. (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0303702641] pp.199–209.
  • Houlden, J.L. ‘Paul, ethical teaching of’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.457–60.
  • Hughes, Gerard J. ‘Natural law’ in B. Hoose (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0303702641] Chapter 2.
  • Kelly, Kevin New directions in moral theology. (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1992) [ISBN 0225666391].
  • Little, David ‘Natural rights’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.414–15.
  • MacNamara, Vincent ‘The distinctiveness of Christian morality’ in Hoose, B. (ed.) Christian ethics: an introduction. (London: Cassell, 1998) [ISBN 0303702641] pp.149–62.
  • Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045].
  • Messer, Neil SCM study guide to Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 2006) [ISBN 9780334029953].
  • Nelson, James B. ‘Homosexuality’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.271–74.
  • Wood, Thomas ‘Euthanasia’ in Macquarrie, John and James F. Childress (eds) A new dictionary of Christian ethics. (London: SCM, 1993) [ISBN 0334022045] pp.210–12.