Bith 673 Christian Ethics M. A. B. S. Summer 2014 July 7 – July 12 David Lauber

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BITH 673 - Christian Ethics


Summer 2014

July 7 – July 12

David Lauber
Email: Class Hours: 8:00am-5:00pm

Office Phone: ext. 5055 Class Location: BGC 263

Office Location: BGC 518
Course Description

An investigation of the biblical and theological foundations of Christian ethics, with attention to a range of contemporary moral issues.

Course Objectives – At the completion of the course students should be able to …

  • Describe the field of Christian ethics, including the issue of methodological diversity: such as, task, sources and types.

  • Identify both the diversity within and the coherence of the moral vision of the Bible

  • Articulate how the concrete reality of Jesus Christ shapes Christian ethics

  • Articulate how the specific teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount shape Christian Ethics

  • Articulate how the biblical teaching and proclamation of the Kingdom of God shapes Christian Ethics

  • Articulate how Christian Ethics is related to individual, personal discipleship

  • Articulate how Christian Ethics is related to the communal life and witness of the Church

  • Develop theological and exegetical skills in order to address the issue of how the Bible ought to shape the ethical norms and practices of the church today

  • Develop oral and written competencies in the critical analysis and expression of Christian ethics

Course Requirements

Required Texts

  1. Glen H. Stassen & David P. Gushee, Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context,

IVP Academic, 2003. ISBN: 978-0-8308-2668-1

  1. Joel B. Green and Jacqueline E. Lapsley, ed. The Old Testament and Ethics: A Book-by-Book Survey,

Baker Academic, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-8010-4935-4

  1. Joel B. Green, ed. The New Testament and Ethics: A Book-by-Book Survey, Baker Academic, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-8010-4936-1

Assignments and Grading

1. Advance reading of Kingdom Ethics – students will write notes for Kingdom Ethics and submit hardcopies of these notes on the first day of class (I will also accept them at any time during the week, with no penalty. Ideally the notes will be complete on the first day, but I know that some students might need extra time). One page for each chapter is sufficient. These notes are meant to help students remember what they read and, further, to help students participate more fully in class discussion. These notes can be taken in bullet-point format. Write in a way that will be helpful to you. Appropriate things to include in these notes are: questions about terms, categories, arguments, or interpretations; summary statements of key points; key references – biblical or scholarly; criticisms or counterarguments; implications for your own context; etc. Students should strive to provide a succinct thesis statement for each chapter – this might by your own synthesis or it might be a key quotation from the book. These reading notes should demonstrate your familiarity with and understanding of the material, as well as your engagement with the themes, issues, and arguments presented in the text. In other words, do not simply summarize the chapter.

Due on July 7 – the first day of class - 35% of the final grade
2. Brief responses to selected essays that address the topic of the day. Monday – Friday the professor will provide an essay, book chapter, or blog post that is related to the topic of the day – students will have time to read the essay and to write a one to two page critical response to the essay – we will then discuss the reading as a group.

The essays are due on the day they are written - 5% each – for a total of 25% of the final grade
3. Students will write a 10-12 page (double spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins) essay in which they answer the question – What makes Ethics Christian? We will discuss this assignment during the week of our class. Briefly, students will be asked to address issues that demonstrate how Christian Ethics is distinctively Christian. This will include addressing topics such as: Holy Scripture, Theological convictions/doctrines, Church history/tradition, and the contemporary social and ecclesial context.

Due Saturday August 2 (11:59pm) – email the paper to me. 40% of the final grade

Summary of Assignments and Grading

Evaluation is based upon the completion of the following assignments:

Weight of Assignments: Grading Scale:

Kingdom Ethics Notes 35% A 94% and above C+ 77-79.9%

Daily Essays 25% A- 90-93.9% C 74-76.9%

Final Essay 40% B+ 87-89.9% C- 70-73.9%

B 84-86.9% D 60-69.9%

B- 80-83.9% F Below 60%

General Guidelines for The Submission of Written Work

Criteria for Evaluating Written Work
Because good writing reflects good thinking, I take your writing seriously. When I am grading your assignments, I will ask the following questions:

  1. Grammar and Style – Written work should be free of spelling mistakes, punctuated correctly, and adhere to basic rules of grammar. In terms of citation format, you may use Turabian, MLA or the Chicago Manual of Style. What I am looking for is consistency. Choose a format and be consistent with that format throughout the paper. You need not include a separate title page. You might wish to make use of the following for help with formatting:

  2. Accuracy and Fairness – Have you properly understood the assignment? Have you understood the text/theologian/idea, etc. you are writing about? Do you quote or cite other authors correctly and in context? Is the evidence used to support your argument used judiciously? Have you provided a fair, generous and careful consideration of divergent points of views on the issues under discussion?

  3. Critical Thinking – Does your paper have a clear thesis statement or claim? Do you make a coherent and convincing case in support of that claim? Have you provided evidence of careful and thoughtful reflection on your subject matter?

  4. Organization and Coherence of Ideas – Does your paper have a clear structure? Is there a clear progression or development of ideas throughout your paper? Does the organization of the various points of your argument add to or detract from the defense of your thesis?

Academic and Disabilities Support

If you need course adaptations or accommodations due to a diagnosed disability, please contact the Wheaton College Academic and Disabilities Support Office, which coordinates services for students with disabilities. Documentation needs to be on file before accommodations can be provided. The Academic and Disabilities Support Coordinator can be reached at 630-752-5941 or

Late Work

Please communicate clearly with me about special circumstances that might necessitate an extension of a due date. Although it is preferable to submit assignments on time, I certainly understand that situations arise that make it difficult to do so. All I ask is that you communicate with me and I am sure that we can make arrangements for assignments to be submitted in a timely fashion.

Cheating and Plagiarism

Cheating is the use of someone else’s work when you ought to have done the work personally. This includes submitting answers to test questions derived by some means other than permitted by the instructor as well as turning in written assignments composed (in whole or in part) by someone else. Plagiarism is the use of ideas and information (not commonly known) from a specific source without giving credit to that source. Simply changing the wording of a statement does not exempt you from acknowledging its source. It is better to quote directly than to use a strong paraphrase that changes wording only slightly. Cheating and plagiarism will result in an automatic “F” for the assignment and possible further disciplinary action in accordance with the College’s policies.

Wheaton College policy on inclusive language

For academic discourse, spoken and written, the faculty expects students to use gender inclusive language for human beings.

Course Schedule
Monday July 7 The Reign of God and Christian Character

Jesus, The Kingdom of God, and the Sermon on the Mount

Read: Kingdom Ethics, pp. 11-78

Tuesday July 8 The Way of Jesus and Prophetic Authority

Ethical Norms and Sources – Method – The Bible and Ethics

Read: Kingdom Ethics, pp. 79-145

The Old Testament and Ethics, Introduction and Section 1

The New Testament and Ethics, Introduction and Section 1
Wednesday July 9 The Gospel of Life

Violence, War, Capital Punishment, Medical Ethics (Beginning and End of Life), Bioethics

Read: Kingdom Ethics, pp. 147-267
Thursday July 10 Male and Female and The Central Norms of Christian Ethics

Marriage and Divorce, Gender, Sexuality (Heterosexuality and Homosexuality)

Love and Justice

Read: Kingdom Ethics, pp. 269-324

Kingdom Ethics, pp. 325-365
Friday July 11 Relationships of Justice and Love

Truthtelling, Race, Economics, Creation

Read: Kingdom Ethics, pp. 367-446
Saturday July 12 A Passion for God’s Reign

Prayer, Politics, Practices

Read: Kingdom Ethics, pp. 447-491

Class time will include a variety of activities: lecture, discussion of Kingdom Ethics, The Old Testament and Ethics, and The New Testament and Ethics; and reading, writing, and discussion of supplemental readings provided by the professor. Specific readings from OT and Ethics and NT and Ethics will be determined during the week. The chapters are very short, so advanced reading, though potentially helpful, is not necessary.

Since this the final course in the M.A.B.S. program, we will also provide time to reflect upon and discuss the program as a whole. The intention of the course is to cover material related to Christian Ethics and to serve, in some fashion, as a capstone course for the program.
During our week together we want to cover the material in Kingdom Ethics, but we also want to be flexible enough to allow for discussion of issues that are of interest and relevance to students. In other words, the professor is open to making adjustments to the daily schedule.
For Further Reading – Selected Bibliography

Atkinson, D. J., Field, D. F, Holmes, A. & O'Donovan, O. (Eds.). New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology. Downers Grove, Il: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Austin, Victor Lee. Christian Ethics: A Guide for the Perplexed. London & New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2012.
Banner, Michael, Christian Ethics and Contemporary Moral Problems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Barth, Karl, Ethics, Dietrich Braun, ed., Geoffrey W. Bromiley, trans., New York: Seabury Press, 1981.

Birch, B. C. Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and the Christian Life. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1991.

Bonhoeffer, D. Ethics, Collected Works, Volume 6. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.

Boulton, Wayne, Thomas D. Kennedy, and Allen Verhey. From Christ to the World: Introducing Readings in Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994.

Brueggemann, Walter. Interpretation and Obedience : From Faithful Reading to Faithful Living. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.

Cahill, Lisa Sowle, and James F. Childress. Christian Ethics : Problems and Prospects. Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 1996.
Fedler, Kyle D. Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisvile: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006.
Furnish, V. P. Theology and Ethics in Paul. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1968.

Guroian, V. Ethics After Christendom: Toward an Ecclesial Christian Ethic. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1994.

Hauerwas, Stanley, John Berkman, and Michael G. Cartwright. The Hauerwas Reader. Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 2001.
Hauerwas, Stanley and Samuel Wells, ed. The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Richard B. Hays. The Moral Vision of the New Testament: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1996.
Helm, P. (Ed.) Divine Commands and Morality. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1981.

John Paul II. The Splendor of Truth (Veritatis Splendor): To All the Bishops of the Catholic Church Regarding Certain Fundamental Questions of the Church's Moral Teaching. Boston: St. Paul's Books and Media.

Lehmann, Paul. The Decalogue and a Human Future: The Meaning of the Commandments for Making & Keeping Human Life Human, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995.

________. Ethics in a Christian Context, New York: Harper & Row, 1963.

Lohfink, G. Jesus and Community: The Social Dimension of Christian Faith. Philadelphia and New York: Fortress Press and Paulist Press, 1984.

Lohse, E. Theological Ethics of the New Testament. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1991.

McDonald, J. I. H. Biblical Interpretation and Christian Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993

MacIntyre, A. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. (2nd ed.). Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984.
________. Whose Justice? Which Rationality? Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988.

________. Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy, and Tradition. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990.

Meeks, W. The Moral World of the First Christians. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1986

_________. The Origins of Christian Morality. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

Meilaender, G. C. The Theory and Practice of Virtue. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984.

________. Faith and Faithfulness: Basic Themes in Christian Ethics. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991.

Niebuhr, R. The Nature and Destiny of Man: I. Human Nature. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1941.

________. The Nature and Destiny of Man: II. Human Destiny. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1943.

O'Donovan, O. Begotten or Made? Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

________. The Just War Revisited . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

________. Resurrection and Moral Order. 2nd edition. Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1986.

Outka, G. H. & Ramsey, P. (Eds.). Norm and Context in Christian Ethics. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1968.

Pinches, Charles R. Theology and Action: After Theory in Christian Ethics, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002.

Quinn, P. L. Divine Commands and Moral Requirements. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978.

Rae, S. B. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995.

Ramsey, P. Basic Christian Ethics. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1950.

Schnackenburg, R. The Moral Teaching of the New Testament. New York: Herder and Herder, 1965.

Schrage, W. The Ethics of the New Testament. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1988.

Siker, J. Scripture and Ethics: Twentieth-Century Portraits. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.

Stout, Jeffrey, Ethics After Babel: The Languages of Morals and Their Discontents, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Verhey, A. The Great Reversal: Ethics and the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1984.

__________. Remembering Jesus : Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002.

Waters, Brent. This Mortal Flesh: Incarnation and Bioethics. Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2009.

Wells, Samuel & Ben Quash. Introducing Christian Ethics. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010.

Wenham, Gordon J. Story as Torah : Reading the Old Testament Ethically. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000.

Wright, Christopher. Old Testament Ethics for the People of God. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004.

Yoder, John Howard. The Politics of Jesus : Vicit Agnus Noster. Grand Rapids, Mich. Eerdmans: Carlisle UK, 1994.

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