Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 105

Making Moral Choices: An Introduction to Christian Ethics

PREFACE
To many Christians the study of ethics may seem to be a somewhat academic or even unnecessary pursuit, and an explanation of this books purpose may be in order. Ethics, though not a study of Scripture per se, is very much a scriptural topic for study, especially as it concerns itself with Christian ethics which is entirely rooted in and developed from the Word of God. It is a study that, when properly examined, can enrich, uplift, strengthen, and enlighten every Christian, raising him up to a fuller and more comprehensive understanding of what Christianity is all about. Being a scriptural study, ethics is therefore not a topic for discussion only for the intellectually elite within the Lords church but is or ought to be a subject open to every Christian. Too often books on Christian ethics tend to cater more to the theologian and practiced ethicist, and while such works often are quite good and necessary for the defense of the Christian position, they sometimes cause the subject of ethics to appear beyond the pale of the average layman. It is the hope of this author that this book may present a serious examination of and explanation for our Christian ethics in such a way as to render the subject accessible to every interested disciple of our Lord. It is hoped that this treatment will be neither overly academic nor shallow, but rather that it may offer a comprehensive scrutiny of Christian morality in such a manner as to be meaningful to the student and scholar alike. Before we begin, however, it is important that we all understand just what we mean when we talk about ethics in general and Christian ethics in particular. Properly defined, ethics deals with the branch of philosophy that is concerned with values which relate to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of those actions. Ethics thus concerns the system of moral principles and the rules of conduct by which men live and act. Although many people feel that the study of ethics is an esoteric pursuit, an exercise of the mind to be engaged in by the intellectually elite, it is in fact the most basic discipline known to mankind. It is basic because it is that which governs every mans actions, be he Christian, Hindu, agnostic, or atheist. The rules by which a man lives, the principles upon which he bases his decisions to act, constitute his system of ethics. There are, of course, many different systems of ethics by which mankind has chosen to live. Many of these systems have names that may seem unfamiliar to many readers, names that give the impression that this book is not for the average person. But though the names may seem long and unnecessarily elaborate, the systems they represent most likely are familiar to every reader, whether the systems proper names are immediately recognizable or not. In fact, most people who live on this planet probably live by a system of ethics they would not recognize by name.

In the course of this work we intend to look briefly at the predominant systems of ethics practiced by members of our current society, but primarily we will look at these within the context of our own Christian system of behavior so that we may see how these human systems relate to our own system of ethics. Although we will discuss several of these man-made systems, sometimes in detail, our central focus will remain that system by which we as Christians are to live and make our decisions, the system that is derived from the holy, inspired Word of God Christian ethics.

The Need to Study Christian Ethics One might ask that since most of those who would choose to read this book already are Christians or are at least people who choose to live by the Judeo-Christian ethic, why should we devote so much effort to elaborating our topic? No doubt most of us know and likely agree that we get our direction from Scripture and that Scripture gives us certain rules to live by. We might cite, for example, St. Pauls statement to St. Timothy that All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:16, 17). In light of such a statement one might ask, Why go into an analysis of our system? Why not just let Scripture speak for itself? Such an attitude might be fine if it were true that Scripture gave us rules to govern every waking moment of our lives. In fact, however, it does not. But before we assume this should in any way minimize the position of Scripture in the Christians life, let us first set about to define a few terms. When we say that Scripture provides rules to govern all aspects of a Christians life, if we are speaking in everyday language most likely we would be understood correctly. However, ethically speaking, we have to be a little more careful with our use of certain words and must define our terms carefully. Properly speaking, a rule is a law, a command, a directive that is very concrete. An example of a rule would be Do not get drunk or Pay your taxes. These are rules, specific guidelines that are absolute and about which there can be no discussion. In Scripture we find the Decalogue a perfect example of divinely given rules which spell out in unequivocally concrete terms Gods will regarding certain areas of human conduct. Likewise, much of the Old Law consisted of hard-and-fast rules that dealt with both ceremonial and social behavior. Although the New Testament is far less legalistic in these respects, there are examples of rules to be found there too, such as the command not to commit sexual immorality (I Corinthians 10:8) and the command to pay our taxes (Romans 13:6). If the Bible spoke thusly about every facet of our lives, there would be no need to study Christian ethics. Everything would be clear-cut and unquestionable: We either would choose to follow the rules, or we would not. But the truth is that Scripture does not tell us everything about everything. Even under the Old Law in which so many facets of human conduct was governed by scriptural rules, there yet remained a large number of areas of conduct unaddressed by specific guidelines. Because of this,

the Pharisees attempted to compile rule books that would outwardly regulate every hour of the Hebrew day and would cover every conceivable situation that could ever arise. As we know from the New Testament, Jesus stood solidly opposed to such legalism as that exhibited by the selfrighteous Pharisees, because He knew that true morality comes from a mans heart and not from the outward adherence to a list of dos and dots. For this reason Scripture does not always give us clear-cut examples of what we should and should not do in every situation. It does not speak specifically to many questions in human life. If one searches a Bible concordance, for instance, one will not find passages of Scripture that mention abortion or masturbation or genetic engineering or even passages that give precise, unequivocal answers to many of the questions regarding marriage and divorce. In these matters, which fall into what we often refer to as grey areas, we have to rely on the guidance of the Church and reason out for ourselves, with the Lords help, to discover what our answers to these questions should be. But God has not left us directionless in these grey areas. If we go back to our former statement that Scripture provides rules that govern all aspects of a Christians life and understand that term in the everyday sense of the word rule, then we would be correct. If we understand rule to mean principle (which is the correct word, ethically speaking), then we could see that Scripture does in fact give us principles to govern every aspect of our lives, even the grey areas. As St. Paul said to St. Timothy, All scripture ... is profitable ... for every good work. His statement was not that Scripture gives us all the rules to determine for us all the decisions of our lives, but that the precepts it provides are profitable in allowing us access to the truth so that, even in the areas of life in which a specific rule cannot be appealed to, we nevertheless may be fully equipped to know how we ought to glorify God in our conduct. In the example cited earlier concerning the biblical prohibition against drunkenness, we find that not only in this case does Scripture provide us with a rule but (which is more important in our study) that there is behind that rule an underlying principle. This is significant because, by and large, the New Testament does not speak to us in terms of rules so much as it speaks to us through a number of divine principles. From these principles and the direction of the Holy Fathers of the Church, we are to work out our answers to the various questions in life. But because we often are called upon to answer for ourselves does not imply that we are without direction in choosing our course of action. These biblical principles themselves serve as directives for us in determining our proper responses to the numerous ambiguities of life. It is up to us in many cases to use the abilities God has given us to reason, study, and determine for ourselves what He expects of us in given situations. Though of course we may seek guidance of our spiritual fathers, the decisions ultimately lie with us individually, and it is greatly reassuring knowing that God has not left us directionless. In saying all this, however, we do not intend to imply that we should attempt to free ourselves from spiritual guidance and rely only upon our own resources. What we are saying is that we must not expect to find concrete answers to all our ethical questions in Scripture or Canon Law. God did not intend for His Word to take the place of our own spiritual development. He expects us to utilize our intellect in the formation of our moral and ethical decisions. It is not as though we must suspend the normal thinking process when we approach our ethical choices in light of the Christian religion, but we are instead to exercise our intellectual faculties while being guided by divine principles.

Jesus told the multitudes in St. Luke 12:54-57 that since they were able to determine from the evidence available to them what the weather would be like, they also should be able to judge for themselves what is right. Likewise St. Paul in I Corinthians 11:13 instructed the Christians at Corinth to #147use their heads, so to speak, and judge for themselves about the question of whether a woman was to pray with her head uncovered. We might also look to St. Pauls example in Acts 24:25 where it states that he reasoned with Felix about righteousness, selfcontrol, and the judgment to come; or in I Corinthians 14:15 where he says that he will pray and sing not with the spirit alone but also with the mind; or in Romans 7:25 where he says that with the mind he serves the law or God; or in Romans 14:5 where he instructs every Christian to be fully convinced in his own mind. Our minds were created by God and are to be used in His service. Christianity, unlike so many of the worlds religions, is a rational religion. It does not ask us to bypass the mind, but instead asks us to utilize our minds in the greater service of our God. This is a very important point, because the spirit of anti-intellectualism has been very prevalent in many Christian circles in recent decades. Many religious groups have stressed the importance of the Christian experience to the degree that the rational process has been rendered practically taboo. But when we reject the mind and the rational process then we also must reject authentic Christianity, because it demands the use of our minds as well as our spirits. Without rational constraint we are left with nothing more than a religion of superstitious vagaries. As Elton Trueblood has said, However bad some arid intellectualism has been, antiintellectualism is worse, since it provides no antidote to either superstition of wish-thinking.1 Had God not expected us to use our minds in His service He surely would have given us that neat list of dos and donts asked for by so many people today. But the fact is He wants all of us, not just a part; He wants our minds as well as the rest of us to serve Him. Therefore He addresses most issues not with rules but with principles, and from these principles we are determine the proper response. Why did God choose to arrange things this way? Why did He not simply give us a collection of absolute rules to govern our lives, much as He did for the Israelites of old? One reason is just as we have discussed: He made us to be rational, thinking beings, and He desires us to use these abilities in our service to Him. But beyond that He also wants our obedience to Him to be voluntary, given to Him from a free heart. Rather than having us all walk about like automata simply following an endless list of rules and regulations (which can be done without emotional content, as the Pharisees clearly demonstrated), God desires instead a loving response to His directives. Just as we expect our children to grow beyond the simple obedience to household rules to the place where they begin to obey our directives out of love and understanding, so God desires that mankind grow beyond the legalistic precepts of the Old Law (which served as mans schoolmaster) to the place where we all obey His directives out of love and out of a true desire to do the right. Furthermore, we as Christians are not called to conform to some arbitrary legal code set up as an external standard of behavior, but instead we are called to liberty in grace. We are not bound by law as a means to salvation, but we have received salvation through grace as a gift. Having thus received this gift from God, we are asked only for a loving response a response that comes out of gratitude and not out of a sense of legal obligation. God does not

desire a legalistic obedience to a set of rules, but the opening of our hearts to His will. As the prophet Micah put it, He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:8).

Three Approaches to Christian Ethics Though there are many different approaches to ethics in general, there are principally only three major approaches used by most religious people today to determine their version of or their ideas about Christian ethics. Although one might find any number of variations on these approaches within the religious community, the three most prevalent methods as are follows: The teleological approach. This approach uses the expected result of ones actions as the basis for determining whether an action itself is right or wrong. To a teleologist it is the intent of the action and not the action itself that establishes its ethical validity. For example, a teleological ethicist might use the familiar phrase the end justifies the means. This is an approach that is better known by the popular name of situation ethics. The contextual approach. Contextual ethicists attempt to determine right and wrong on the basis of the context in which a given situation presents itself. This approach is similar to that used by situationists, who say that the rightness or wrongness of an action is determined exclusively by the situation. The main difference between contextualism and situationism is that some contextualists will recognize rules whereas the situationist recognizes none. Unlike the situationist, the contextualist may adhere to conventional concepts of right and wrong in normal, everyday situations, but he would say that under abnormal circumstances those standards no longer apply and one is left to determine one

s course of action and to decide right and wrong on the basis of the situations context. The rules approach. There are two types of rules approach held by Christians today: (a) the strict rules approach, and (b) the summary rules approach. The Christian who adheres to a strict rules approach recognizes that there are certain ethical standards that are inviolable regardless of the circumstance. Although he may admit that there are abnormal situations in which these standards or rules seem inapplicable, he nonetheless endeavors to uphold those standards and he makes his ethical decisions based on these standards. Similarly, the Christian who adheres to a summary rules approach recognizes the same or similar standards, but he believes that under certain conditions the standards can be broken. Both these approaches differ from the situationist approach, which recognizes no rules at all; the situationist approaches every situation normal and abnormal prepared to violate everything. We will be operating in this book on the strict rules approach (also sometimes called the rules-deontological approach). In terms of Christian ethics, this means that we will be recognizing that right and wrong are to be determined not by context or intent, but by means of divinely given ethical directives. These directives are to be found in the Scriptures and the teachings of the Church Fathers, and it is on the basis of these directives that we are to learn to determine right and wrong in all situations.

The Objective of This Study The objective of this study is threefold: 1. to help us examine and understand the foundation on which our ethics is based, thereby helping us understand better why we do what we do and why the believe what we believe 2. to help us learn how to make wise decisions in an ever-changing world, basing our decisions on the precepts and directives given us by God 3. to help us help others in the formation of their ethical decisions, especially the young Christian and the convert These are the ends we hope to achieve, and this book is the means by which we shall endeavor to attain those ends. Our first objective is to lay a solid foundation by going back to the starting place of our Christian ethics: God. In this part of our study we shall be looking at the fundamentals, the things that most of us already believe and accept as true. In one sense these fundamentals are very elementary, because they are the most basic doctrines that a Christian may know. But precisely because they are so basic and fundamental we often fail to think about them properly at least we fail to think of them in the context in which we should our as often as we should. So what we shall endeavor to do in this book is to reflect upon these fundamental truths on which we base our entire Christian lives and to look at them in such a way that they become revitalized within us. In so doing it is hoped that we will be able to understand better why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe in the realm of ethics and morals. If we can understand these

things we will be better able to understand our entire system of morality and be better equipped to make responsible and ethical decisions. It is therefore important that we not only know what we believe but also why we believe. Too often many Christians seem satisfied simply to believe, as though faith alone were enough. Some even go so far as to discredit the arguments of those who attempt to give objective reasons for their faith, citing as their defense II Corinthians 5:7 which says that we walk by faith and not by sight. But those who appeal to this verse in an attempt to find a biblical sanction for blind faith absent any intellectual context grossly misuse the passage. St. Paul is not saying in this verse that there is no rationality behind our religion, nor is he denying the importance of objective evidence in the formation and sustenance of our faith. To accept the notion that these were St. Pauls intentions would be to admit that he contradicted himself in numerous other passages. For example, it was on the basis of the objective evidence of Gods existence that St. Paul could condemn the unrighteous men in his epistle to the Romans. There he writes: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest to them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:18-20). These men stood condemned because they knew God the evidence was overwhelming but they suppressed the knowledge of God. Christian faith is not, as some tend to think, belief in what we know isnt true; Christian faith is belief in what we know to be true. It is vitally important to us in this study to know both what we believe and why we believe, for it is only on this basis that we will be able to apply the precepts we learn, and it is only on this basis that we will be able to help others understand what we believe. In using the phrase we believe, we do not mean to imply that by the end of this book everyone is expected to believe exactly the same as everyone else on every conceivable subject. There will never be a time in this world when even all faithful Christians will agree entirely on all points. But we all should share the same foundation, and we all should be basing our decisions on the same criteria. This does not mean that we will all reach the exact same conclusions in all areas because not everything in life can be divided simply into categories of right and wrong. Sometimes there can be more than one right in a given circumstance. Sometimes there can be a decision in which we must choose between what is good and what is better. Sometimes we encounter a situation in which every alternative appears to be wrong. When we meet these situations we must have a solid foundation from which to form our decisions and determine our course of action. This is the explanation of our rules approach. As Christians we approach all situations in life with a set of ethical principles that have been divinely revealed, and on the basis of these principles we are able, through the process of prayer and reasoning, to come to an answer. In order to be able to do this, we shall need to establish a good, solid grasp of our foundation. Once this is done we will be better able to make legitimate ethical decisions and to organize our lives so that they will be in harmony with the fundamental truths of God. It is hoped that as we proceed in this study we will begin to see that it is one thing to believe a given way on a particular subject, and that it is another to understand why we believe that way. It may make all

the difference in the world for us to learn that whereas we have been acting in a certain manner in the past because we believed there was a rule that demanded such behavior, in reality there is only a scriptural directive that we ought rather to follow out of love instead of duty. The second part of our objective is to learn how to make decisions on the basis of what and why we believe. The grey areas of life are numerous, and they seem to be growing every day, often as a result of our myriad technological advances. Consequently the call to make ethical choices in this ever-changing world grows more every day. About certain of these grey areas many of us have reached our own decisions already. Some may feel that it is wrong, for instance, to drink alcoholic beverages. Many believe that smoking, dancing, and attending the cinema are wrong types of behavior for a Christian to exhibit. Quite a number are very likely unsure what they think about such things as genetic engineering, artificial insemination, and many other questionable areas of medical technology. It is of vital importance to note that on none of these issues does Scripture give a concise, unequivocal rule. But because Scripture doesnt mention these things specifically does not mean that we are to be neutral on these issues. (It is impossible to be neutral on any ethical issue.) We must learn to base our decisions about these and all other issue upon biblical principles and upon the absolute foundation we hope to examine in this text. The third objective in this study of ethics is designed to enable us to help others in the formation of their ethical decisions, especially the young Christian and the new convert. If there ever was a time when the need to help the youthful Christian and the new convert fresh out of the world was present, the time is now. The basic foundation of the Judeo-Christian ethic that has governed the overall code of civilized behavior for so long has virtually eroded away. With no solid ground on which to stand, our younger generation is drifting aimlessly in a world they perceive to be without meaning. The empty philosophies of the world are assaulting them on every hand, from the textbooks in school to the music on the radio to the movies in the cinema. It is impossible in this day and age for a person not to be exposed to, and to some degree influenced by, modern philosophy. The young are particularly susceptible to current philosophical trends and are quite vulnerable if they are not sure from the start what they are about. The young Christian must live in a world that recognizes relative values, and he must endure tremendous pressure from all sides to conform to current standards of behavior. Simply having grown up in church is not the answer. There must be substance to his religious experience, and there must be a rational basis for the beliefs he has been told to uphold. Too often adults seem to content themselves with simply telling our young people what to believe without explaining to them why they should believe it. This works, of course, through their youngest years; but all youngsters reach a point at which they begin to question everything they have been taught. This cynical period generally occurs during the early and midteen years. Although this can be a terribly trying time for parent and child alike, it is a natural development in the course of maturity and is (as much as we may think otherwise) a good thing. God made us to be inquisitive and questioning beings to be rational, thinking, free moral agents. This is simply the period in a young persons life when he must begin to learn the reasons behind the things hes been taught. When properly exercised, this God-given ability enables the individual to discern truth from error and right from wrong. But unless a solid working base is developed in the young mind, because of the world and because of mans natural bent toward rebelliousness when the young Christian fails to see the base upon which his beliefs solidly rest

he will abandon those beliefs as many have already done and as many others continue to do every day. Only a person who has chosen a hermits life could deny that such has been happening with our young Christians the last few decades. The problem is not peculiar to any particular faith, denomination, or nationality but is a worldwide decay. Francis A. Schaeffer, the late internationally known scholar and theologian, observed that
everywhere I go both in the United States and in other countries children of Christians are being lost to historic Christianity. This is happening not only in small groups in small geographical areas but everywhere. They are being lost because their parents are unable to understand their children, and therefore they cannot really help them in their time of need. This lack of understanding is not only on the part of individual parents, but often also of churches, Christian colleges and Christian missions. Some Christian colleges (and I am not talking of liberal colleges) lose many of the top ten per cent of their students before they graduate. We have left the next generation naked in the face of the twentieth-century thought by which they are surrounded.2

Schaeffer goes on to point out that the responsibility rests solidly upon our shoulders to prepare our children for this philosophical onslaught. The Holy Spirit can do what He will, has says, but the Bible does not separate His work from knowledge; nor does the work of the Holy Spirit remove our responsibility as parents, pastors, evangelists, missionaries or teachers.3 For too long we have failed to give our youngsters the proper base and framework from which they are to build their lives. This writer can well remember a period in his own life when a great deal of emphasis was being placed on youth in Christian service. During his teen years churches all across the nation were holding youth rallies and were sponsoring a wide variety of special activities for young Christians in an effort to secure them to the faith. All of these things were fine and good in so far as they went. But there was a common weakness running through the majority of these programs, and that was a lack of substance. At most of these rallies, for instance, panel discussions would be held in which questions handed in by the youngsters were answered by a panel of ministers or teachers. Most of the time the handling of these questions was the same: The youngsters were told what they ought to think, but rarely were they taught why. It is admitted that in this writers experience most of the answers given at these rallies were correct. A few were not. But without the proper foundation without the proper criteria with which to judge the validity of these answers how were the young people to know the good answers from the bad? Jesus told His disciples to beware of false prophets who disguise themselves in sheeps clothing (St. Matthew 7:15-20), and St. John warned believers to test the spirits to see whether they were of God (I John 4:1). Unless we possess and exercise the proper criteria with which to test the spirits and expose false prophets, how are we to identify them? When people and young people particularly are simply told what to believe instead of being shown why they are to believe it, they often go away saying, I know thats the Churchs position, but I dont see anything wrong with my interpretation of the matter. Young people especially are disposed to look at things from a nave pragmatic point of view and to say that so long as a given action doesnt hurt anyone, and especially if that action gives pleasure to oneself or someone else, then there is nothing wrong with it. It is for this reason, and because we have not given them the proper framework from which to judge their actions, that many of our

Christian teenagers actively participate in premarital sex and engage in occasional drunkenness or drug-induced highs without guilt. Because of our failure, many of our teenagers do these things and honestly, sincerely believe there is nothing wrong with them and that condemnation of such behavior is an anachronistic holdover from an earlier time. Granted, these same young people have been taught since their first day in Church that one should not engage in these things, but because they were given a rule without substance the prohibition seems to them merely an outmoded carryover from a Puritan era. They therefore determine their actions and decisions on the basis of a pragmatic or existential approach rather than on a rules approach to morality. As a result we have a great percentage of our young people leaving the Church, and even many of those who stay continue to practice immorality (and believe it morally acceptable) simply because they are operating from the wrong base. We older Christians, many of whom grew up in an age when we called wrong wrong (even though many of us did the same things as our younger counterparts) sometimes have the tendency to label todays youngsters as bad kids. But if we could examine their thinking we would find that in many cases were not dealing so much with bad kids as we are with good kids who are operating on a bad base. It is hoped that this book may help not only us as adults in ordering our lives according to the norms we find in Scripture, but also that it may help us show the young Christian and the new convert that our religion is not just a legal code of arbitrary dos and donts that are to be accepted on blind faith. But lest the reader be misled, this book does not have all the answers nor does its author wish it to. Such is not its purpose. Many times Christians pick up a book or go into a class study and expect the author or teacher to tell them what they should do, how they should live, and whats right and wrong. And that

s fine, up to a point. But as we mature in Christ and and in life in general, we eventually should grow to become able to discern these things for ourselves. This is necessary not only for Christian growth but also because in some areas no one but ourselves can judge what is right and wrong, since right and wrong often are contingent upon whether a given action will violate our individual conscience (cf. Romans 14:23). What is right for one person in some cases can be wrong for another. What is art to one person may to another be an opportunity for lust. What is a fine meal for one may for another be an occasion for gluttony. In areas such as these we frequently find ourselves confronted with things that in themselves are neither right nor wrong, but about which we must make a moral choice before our God. We are ultimately responsible for our own ethical decisions, and we must learn to make these decisions for ourselves. Otherwise we become only sightless sheep following on blind, irrational faith the teachings of someone else teachings that may be good and right, but may just as well be wrong. We must learn to recognize that we are answerable to God for our own moral choices, and we have to learn to reason things out for ourselves. That is what this book is all about.

The Outline of the Book This book is designed to cover four areas, the first being the foundation or basis for our Christian ethics. As has been stated previously, Christian ethics is not based on arbitrary rules but rests on a strong foundation. We shall be looking at that foundation in detail in the Part One of this book. From this foundation we shall progress to the second part in which we shall see the logical implications of our foundation when applied to our lives and put into action. In this section we shall discuss the meaning of true spirituality. This topic will be discussed for two reasons: first, in order that we may see our ethics in practice (can see what it means to live the Christian life); second, in order to correct some current misconceptions about the meaning of spirituality that have been characteristic of many contemporary religious circles. Part Three of the book will examine briefly relativistic ethics as popularized in Joseph Fletchers book Situation Ethics. Though Fletchers work seems today somewhat dated, the system he presented forms the basis of much Western ethical thought to this day and is particularly prevalent among many Christian groups since it claims to be a religious system. Because of this claim a great many religious people have adopted this ethical model for their lives, and even some among the most conservative Christian faiths have been strongly influenced by it. While existentialism is perhaps the most influential philosophy in the lives and morals of most secular Americans today, be they religious or not, situationism is the predominating influence on most people who at least claim to be religious. Situationism is the system of ethics that teaches love as its only norm and claims that in the area of morality all things are relative. We shall examine this system to determine whether it is truly a Christian ethic or not. Finally, after having laid our foundation (comparing it against the backdrop of contemporary philosophy), having seen the logical implications of our system once it is put into practice, and having objectively examined the highly influential ethic of situationism, we shall in Part Four look at some of the ethical questions that confront us today. These questions will be

examined for a twofold purpose. In the first place they will be examined with the idea in mind that we may find answers to them. Every Christian has certain ethical dilemmas he would like to see resolved. This section of the book may assist in resolving some of these quandaries. But the primary purpose of this section will be to help demonstrate how the individual may reason out his own answers using what he has learned in the former parts of the book. Too often many of us are prone to discuss issues using our feelings and emotions as the principal determining factors in reaching our answers. While our inner feelings are, of course, important, there also must be a rational basis for our answers to the vital questions in life. These answers must be based solidly on an objective Christian foundation and on the basis of what Scripture and the Church have spoken concerning them, either explicitly or implicitly. It is hoped that this section in particular, and this book in general, will help many of us grow into a fuller awareness of what our Christian lives are all about.

The Basis of Christian Ethics


Unlike the ethical systems developed by men, Christian ethics does not rest on arbitrary rules but instead upon a strong foundation of absolutes. It is only by understanding this primary fact that we are able to comprehend both the seriousness and the uniqueness of our system of ethics, inasmuch as it establishes for us the concept of absolute right and wrong. No other system gives us this solid a base from which to operate. Beginning in this section we shall commence a discussion of the five points that constitute our basis for Christian ethics. In the process of examining these points it is hoped that the reader will see not only how firm is his Christian foundation, but also that he may begin to see how bankrupt all human systems are. While our specific aim is to instill in the Christian a fuller understanding of his own system of ethics, truth having the natural quality of light will lead us also to report on and to refute other popular philosophical systems in todays culture.

1. Christian ethics rests on God and His character As with the world and everything in it, our starting place is God. Our ethics rests ultimately and fundamentally upon God Himself and upon His divine character. As Leander Keyser once wrote, Christian ethics goes back to God as the ultimate ground and source of morality.1 Because of who God is, we cannot separate that which is good from that which is pleasing to God. God is the source of all that is good, and that includes our standards for ethical behavior. Behind God there is no higher good, as though God Himself were subject to some abstract concept of righteousness, nor is there any good outside of that which conforms to His goodness. He is the ultimate source of true ethics and morality, and as such He is the starting

place for all our Christian conduct. Since the Christian believes in a God in whom all goodness is intrinsically fixed, he seeks to conform his life to Gods likeness. When we say that the Christian believes that God exists, we mean something significantly different from what many modern people mean when they make that statement. The Christian believes in a God who is really there, a God who exists as an objective reality not simply one who exists as a mere postulate. A postulate is something that is assumed to be true even when there is no proof that it is true; it is simply something assumed as a basis for reasoning. Modern theology, for instance, often tells man that God cannot be proved, that He must be accepted purely on faith, and it therefore reduces God to nothing more than a postulate. The Christians faith in God, however, unlike the faith of modern man, is a rational faith. When modern man says that he believes in God and yet says that God cannot be proved, he is accepting the idea of God as a faith-assumption. He has no rational basis for his belief in God, but he merely chooses to assume, against all the evidence, that God is. The Christians faith is instead grounded in reality. He believes in God, not because he chooses to believe in Him on the basis of a faith-assumption, but because he knows God is really there; the evidences for His existence are overwhelming. It sometimes comes as a surprise to many Christians to be told that God can be proved. A number of us regrettably have surrendered valuable ground to the modern skeptics by refusing to defend our belief in God from a rational standpoint. This has been due largely to our erroneous ideas about the word proof. Having recognized that we cannot take a skeptic to a given place and allow him to see God with his own eyes, we somehow have concluded that God must lie beyond the realm of objective validity and must be accepted only on the basis of unsubstantiated faith. The fact is there is overwhelming evidence pointing to the reality of Gods existence. While it is not our purpose in this treatise to examine these evidences in detail, it is hoped that we may encourage Christians who have been confused on this point to pursue further study. (An excellent online site devoted to Christian apologetics is where one can find a wealth of information and many free books and video- and audiotapes.) God can be proved as adequately as anything can be, and we must not ignore the evidence or minimize the strength of our faith position. Of course, even with all the evidence we may muster, many people will still reject God or will remain skeptical. This frequently results from an individuals demanding absolute proof of Gods existence, as though existing evidences are not enough. It is true that God cannot be proved absolutely but then neither can anything else. One cannot present absolute proof about anything, not even well-established scientific facts. These things may be proved with certainty, but not with absoluteness. As Blaise Pascal once said, Who has demonstrated that there will be a to-morrow, and that we shall die?2 These notions are accepted as fact, and reasonably so, but they cannot be proved in the sense of absolute proof. But they are not, as God often is, rejected on that account. It is interesting to wonder with Trueblood why so many people demand of religious truth a level of certainty which is not demanded of scientific truth.3

On the opposite side of the issue, one may occasionally encounter a Christian who believes there are no objective proofs that there is a God or who at least feels that objective proof is nonessential to true faith. Sometimes these people will even criticize the efforts of other Christians who are engaged in discussing the physical and scientific evidences of Gods existence. The one who does so is often well-meaning, insisting that God must be accepted on faith and that any objective support for his belief minimizes the purity of that faith. But it is important to distinguish between blind faith (a faith-assumption) and faith based on reality. If we look at the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans we may recall the arguments St. Paul used against the unrighteous men who rejected God. St. Paul says that they are without excuse because Gods existence can be known objectively and rationally known because God has revealed Himself in His creation (Romans 1:19). Even His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse (Romans 1:20). God can be proved, and God expects us to believe in Him because He is there. If we believe simply as a matter of choice without knowing whether what we believe is indeed true, then our faith is no different from that of men who accept the idea of God as a mere postulate. True faith does not believe in what cannot be proved; true faith believes in what we know to be true. Nor does Scripture ask us to believe in God or in Christ as a matter of personal choice, but on the basis of revealed fact. If we look at St. Pauls discourse in I Corinthians 15:12-19 we can see clearly that his faith was based on something more than postulated notions. And if Christ is not risen, he says, then our preaching is vain and your faith is also vain. The word vain means empty, but we may just as well substitute the words meaningless or worthless. If Christ is not raised, says St. Paul, as an objective reality, then all of Christianity is just a bunch of nonsense. It is in the reality of Christs resurrection that we have hope of life beyond the grave, and if Christ is not really raised then that hope is dead. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable (I Corinthians 15:19). But St. Paul immediately states in the following verse that the fact is Christ has risen bodily, objectively and it is in this fact (not in that mystical notion) that we are to place our faith. As Christians, therefore, we believe that God exists as an objective reality. But beyond the fact of His actual existence we also believe that He exists as a personal God who possesses a moral character. He is not simply some kind of omnipresent force acting in and through nature, but He is personal that is, He exists as a rational, intelligent Being who possesses divine characteristics of personhood, including such concepts as love, justice, righteousness, and holiness. Modern man generally thinks of God (if he thinks of God at all) in an almost pantheistic sense, seeing God as a mystical, impersonal force operating in the universe. This is one reason why Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism have gained such wide followings in the West in recent decades. Both the Eastern religions and modern Western theology have dispensed with the idea of God as the old man in the sky and instead perceive God rather as some sort of mystical force permeating all existence. Such a view of God is not anomalous to the idea of the Force represented in the popular motion picture Star Wars. The term god is never used in reference to this indefinable Force, but all implications are that this concept mirrors roughly the idea of God in much contemporary religious thought in both East and West today.

While it is true that many Christian denominations today still use the familiar words and phrases that are traditional with Christianity when referring to God, we must realize that by these terms they often mean things entirely different from the traditional concepts. The use of such deceptive terminology likely has been resorted to in an effort to keep the uninitiated parishioners from leaving the church, offering them familiar Christian words but altering their meanings to the degree that for all intents and purposes the words lose their meanings altogether. Using the word God, for instance, gives the connotation of acceptance of the historic Christian theological position of God and His nature, but by this term many modern Christians often mean only some vague notion about a superior being or force or even only some acknowledgment of an infinity. But when God is thus perceived He has ceased to be God; He is merely a force impersonal, beyond good and evil, and without any kind of moral character. By this definition God can at best be perceived as only the light or positive side of an infinite force, similar to the light side of the Force in Star Wars or to the Yin in Oriental religion. But because in these systems there exists also an equal opposing force (the Yang or the dark side), there is therefore no basis for establishing right and wrong except on the basis of total equality in which right would also equal non-right. When God is reduced to an impersonal force, with an equal and opposing opposite force His counterpart, there is no rational basis for choosing good over evil or right over wrong; good and evil are equal in these systems. Quite the opposite is true of the Christians God, because the Christians God is a personal God that is, He possesses personhood and has a personality. Unlike a force, which is beyond good and evil, the Christians God is a lover of righteousness. As a Person, the Christians God also possesses a moral character whose attributes are holiness and love (I Peter 1:15, 16; I John 4:8; John 1:5). In I John 1:5 we see not only Gods holy character reflected in St. Johns use of the word light, but in it also we see the fact that our God is a God who desires to be known, One who by His very nature reveals Himself to mankind. He is not a God who hides in shadow and darkness and who cannot be known; He does not withdraw Himself from the scene, like the Deists God. Instead the Christians God is self-revealing in that which He has created, and His will is that His creation should honor Him and be like Him. As was stated earlier, what we know of goodness and righteousness is known because our God is a good and righteous God. There is no good that exists apart from Him, for in Him is the source of all that is good. He is not subject to a higher good than Himself, but He is the ultimate source of goodness. This view is strikingly different from most pagan ideas about God. Even the pagan religions that pay homage to personal gods (such as the religions of ancient Greece and Rome and modern-day pagan movements such as Wicca) do not approximate the Christian understanding of God because, being subject to a law or power above themselves, these gods are finite. The Christians God is both personal and infinite, for there is nothing higher than God Himself. Also unlike the pagan gods, the Christian God is true to Himself and does not behave capriciously. Whereas we often read of the pagan gods acting on whim or impulse or even making errors of judgment, we read of the Christian God that I am the Lord, I do not change (Malachi 3:6); He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8); and that with Him there is no variation or shadow of turning (James 1:17).

Finally, the Christians concept of God is fuller even than the Islamic concept, for though Islamic theology recognizes the personhood and, nominally, the infinity of God, it fails to attribute to Him the fullness of His divine characteristic of love. The Islamic God may be a lover of justice, but He knows little of love and mercy and compassion. These qualities are essential to a full understanding of God, because Scripture teaches us that God is love in His very being. He is infinite, He is personal, and He has a divine character in which holiness and love are intrinsically fixed. To begin without this fundamental base for our choice of ethics is to leave us utterly directionless and, ultimately, meaningless. It is only on the basis that God exists as an infinite, personal God who possesses characteristics of holiness and love that we are able to determine values. If we attempt to establish values outside of God we may draw up some kind of arbitrary values of a sort, but they cannot be values that are absolute and transcendent or that possess value for their own sake. In the final analysis, such values would ultimately be meaningless themselves. Jean-Paul Sartre, the great existential philosopher, understood the significance of a universe without God. Sartre recognized that without God there can be no absolutes. Although he was an atheist, Sartre comprehended where his atheism led him: to a universe without transcendent values where anything is possible. Everything is possible if God does not exist, Sartre said, and as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to.4 In Sartres philosophy a person has to make his decisions on the basis of what is meaningful to himself, since nothing outside himself matters. In his system a person cannot determine right and wrong on the basis of objective truth, because without God truth which is an absolute is destroyed. The existentialist ... thinks it very distressing that God does not exist, because all possibility of finding values in a heaven of ideas disappears along with Him; there can no longer be an a priori Good, since there is no infinite and perfect consciousness to think it.5 The same holds true for the so-called Christian existentialists who accept the concept of God in some form of subjective sense because it is meaningful to them, or who equate the term God with some mystical, indefinable, impersonal force. When God as a personal, objective reality is destroyed, all absolute truths are destroyed with Him. Therefore those who claim to be Christians yet deny God as He is have no more basis for their system of determining right and wrong than does the professed atheist. The Christian existentialists ethics, as well as his religion, becomes meaningless. If we deny God as He really is, we are left with only three possible ways of choosing ethical values: 1. We may choose to recognize existential (subjective) values 2. We may recognize arbitrary absolutes that are established by a majority vote of at least fifty-one percent 3. We may recognize arbitrary absolutes that are established by a ruling elite

In any of these three systems (and there are no others) our values and our absolutes are not absolute at all but are entirely relative. Existential values are values that are meaningful to the individual; they vary from individual to individual and even vary during the lifetime of a given individual. Such are not values that are chosen on the basis of what is intrinsically good but are merely choices and acts of the will by which an individual decides to authenticate himself. Values established by a vote of a fifty-one percent majority may remain absolute only so long as the majority holds them; they may be reversed subsequently as social mores change. Values established by a ruling elite (as in Nazi Germany or Communist China) may remain absolute only so long as that elite retains power or only so long as it thinks consistently. Without God, then, man is left on his own to determine right from wrong an exceedingly difficult task since he has no basis for determining whether right and wrong actually exist and he may do so only in one of the three ways just described. None of these choices gives any transcendent meaning to rightness and wrongness, nor would any guarantee that what is right and wrong today will still be right and wrong tomorrow. One has only to look at the example of Red China to see that without God there can be no certainties or absolutes only questions without answers. The ultimate end of such a system carried to its logical conclusion is chaos and meaninglessness, for without absolutes one would have to conclude that Hitler was not wrong in murdering six million Jews he was merely authenticating himself. The Christian should recognize that he is truly blessed in having a firm starting place from which to build his ethics. God is, and He exists as an infinite and all-knowing, transcendent Person, a lover of right and a hater of wrong. With Him there exist values that go beyond the realm of space and time, values that are true for everyone and for all eternity, values that remain unchanged regardless what the popular majority or the ruling elite may decide. As Francis A. Schaeffer has summed it up: There is no Law behind God, because the furthest thing back is God. The moral absolutes rest upon Gods character. The creation as He originally made it conformed to His character. The moral commands He has given to men are an expression of His character Men as created in His image are to live by choice on the basis of what God is. The standards of morality are determined by what conforms to His character, while those things which do not conform are immoral.6

2. Christian ethics rests on the nature of man Then God said, Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:26, 27). To the Christian, man is valuable. He is valuable because he stands apart from all other creation in having been created in the very image of God Himself, as these two verses from the creation story describe. Man did not come about by chance but was formed out of divine purpose by an infinite, personal God who possesses characteristics of holiness and love. Being formed in

His image, man is therefore seen to be a personal being, like his Creator, possessing a moral consciousness. Such a high and noble view of man differs dramatically from the views derived from human philosophy. In most human systems man has simply come upon the scene through some sort of cosmic accident, and he finds himself here without meaning and without purpose, existing merely as a form of higher animal. But such a concept of man throws man into a moral and philosophical dilemma, because he recognizes himself as somehow distinct from the rest of creation yet without a sufficient explanation for his uniqueness. In his book The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer draws two diagrams that portray the differences between this human view of man and the Christian view. (Scheaffers discussions of the human vs. Christian views of man are so beautifully expressed that this authors feels he could do little to improve upon them, and he readily acknowledges his debt to Schaeffers work in this discussion.) In the Christian view Schaeffer first writes the word God across the top of the page, and on either side beneath this he writes the words personal and infinite, referring to Gods characteristics of being. Beneath the word infinite he draws a chasm, and on the other side of the chasm he puts man, animals, plants, and machines, indicating that because all these things are finite (as opposed to Gods being infinite) man dwells on the same side of the chasm as all other creation in relation to his finiteness. Man, just as all the rest of creation, is separated from God by a chasm in the realm of infinity. But beneath the word personal we do not have to place man on the same side of the chasm as animals, plants, and machines, because in the realm of personality man resides on the same side as God. This is so because God has created man as a personal being, and in this respect man is different from the other animals, from plants, and from machines.7

GOD
Personal Man Chasm ====== Animals Plants Machines Infinite ====== Chasm Man Animals Plants Machines

If we turn to the second of Schaeffers diagrams, which typifies mans own view of himself, instead of the word God we find only the word Infinity, and beneath that word is a chasm separating infinity from all that is finite man, animals, plants, and machines.8 Infinity ======== Chasm Man Animals Plants

Machines There is no personal side to infinity, because whatever is there is impersonal, whether it is called a force or a god or whatever. In this view man is pictured as being equal in all respects to animals, plants, and machines; in other words, man is equal to non-man. (This concept is expressed succinctly in the popular PETA slogan, A rat is a dog is a pig is a boy.) In this view, while man equals non-man in every other respect, he exists distinct from the rest of creation in respect to his personality, though no one knows why or what purpose this side to man serves. One of the biggest problems secular men has to face concerns how man, who is a personal being, could have evolved out of an impersonal universe. No one has yet presented even a remote idea how an impersonal beginning plus time plus chance can give rise to personality. Once God is eliminated from the scene we are left with nothing but impersonality; yet here man stands an anomaly, the personal amidst the impersonal world from which he sprang. In order to illustrate the kind of problem that we encounter when we start from an impersonal beginning, we return again to an analogy used by Francis Schaeffer. Schaeffer takes us to a high vantage point in the Alps where we are able to look down on three parallel mountain ranges with two valleys lying between them. One of the valleys contains a lake, but the other valley is dry. As we watch, we suddenly see this dry lake begin to fill with water a phenomenon that sometimes occurs in the Alps. As we watch the water level rise in the new lake, we may begin to wonder about the waters source. If we go down and measure the water level and find that the level of the new lake is the same as that of the former lake, we then could conclude that the water in the new lake could have come from the first valley. But if we find the water level in the new lake to be twenty feet higher than the water in the first one, then we could no longer assume that the water came from the first valley; we would have to start looking for another source.9 Schaeffer points out that personality are like that. Personality cannot grow out of impersonality, just as a lake cannot rise above its source. Impersonality as a source for the personal is insufficient. Therefore, the impersonal plus time plus chance cannot explain the rise of personality in man. This represents modern mans greatest dilemma. If man rules out the personal beginning (which he does if he rules out the personal God), then he is left with no way of explaining the rise of his own distinctiveness and uniqueness in the universe. Some have attempted to resort to mysticism in an effort to explain personality, but whether one accepts the mysticism of Eastern religions or the mysticism of liberal Western theology or even the philosophical mysticism of the metaphysical thinkers, one eventually ends up at the same starting place: the impersonal plus time plus chance. Man is then left with only two possibilities: He must conclude either that personality is merely an illusion, or he must take a non-rational leap of faith. The kind of leap of faith we mean here is that which was effectively demonstrated by the British philosopher Sir Julian Huxley. Although Huxley was an atheist, he admitted that man functions better in the universe if he acts as though there is a God. It is better for man, he said, to make believe than to try to get by in the real world. What such a position amounts to is

admitting that it is impossible for man to function in the reality of the truth of what is. In order to live and act, man must believe a lie and must assume, against all reason, that a lie is true. Huxleys answer though pragmatically sound actually spells the death of man. Schaeffer again illustrates how this is so. He asks us to imagine a universe that is made up of only liquids and solids with no free gases. We see a fish swimming through this universe, to which he is fully conformed, when suddenly by blind chance this fish develops lungs. Now a fish with lungs in a universe without gases can no longer function as a fish. Would it then be higher or lower in its new condition with lungs? Obviously it would be lower, for it would drown.10 But in the same way, if man has been kicked up by blind chance out of that which is impersonal, than all the things that make him man hope of purpose and significance, love, notions of morality and rationality, beauty and verbal communication11 are all unfulfillable in the universe that exists and are therefore meaningless. In such a case is man to be viewed as higher as or lower than if he had remained impersonal? As Schaeffer points out, man would in such a case be the lowest creature on the scale, because even the green moss on the rock is higher than he, for it can be fulfilled in the universe which exists,12 but man cannot. In order for man to be fulfilled, according to Huxley, he has to believe in a universe that does not exist, a universe that is not true to reality. Such an alteration of reality is not demanded of any other life form than man, because man, with his personality in an impersonal universe, is just like a fish with lungs in a universe without free gases. Such a system as Huxleys is obviously not true to reality and comes nowhere near helping us resolve our dilemma. In an effort to circumvent these difficulties, some scientists and philosophers in recent years have attempted to redefine personality in genetic terms. This has given rise to the idea that our universe, and man included, operates in a totally determined system. This means that everything, including mans moral actions, are caused by factors within the system; in mans case that would mean his actions and behavior are caused by his chemical and genetic makeup representing a sort of atheistic predestination. Whereas we may credit the determinists with at least recognizing that man is a personal being (though absent any explanation as to why or how), they essentially deny personality entirely, at least as it has been generally understood. Instead they redefine personality as some kind of genetic manipulation of the gene host (man). In this view man is seen not as a creature that has fallen from heroic proportions, nor even as a creature that has courageously dragged himself up out of the slime; he is simply there, because thats what his genes determined for him. One of the most concise descriptions of the tenets and implications of deterministic thought appeared in a Time magazine article on August 1, 1977. Many of the points that the deterministic system stands for were admittedly startling and disturbing, according to the articles author. The article stated that in deterministic thought, Conflict between parents and children is biologically inevitable. Children are born deceitful. All human acts even saving a stranger from drowning or donating a million dollars to the poor may be ultimately selfish. Morality and justice, far from being the triumphant product of human progress, evolved from mans past, and are securely rooted in the genes.13 The article goes on to state that Some sociobiologists go so far as to say that there may be human genes for such behavior as

conformism, homosexuality and spite. Carried to an extreme, sociobiology holds that all forms of life exist solely to serve the purpose of the DNA, the coded master molecule that determines the nature of all organisms and is the stuff of genes.14 The article also quotes British ethnologist Richard Dawkins, a pioneer in sociobiology and an adherent to genetic determinism. Dawkins describes our genes as swarming in huge colonies, safe inside gigantic lumbering robots, sealed off from the outside world, manipulating it by remote control. They are in you and me; they created us body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence.... [W]e are their survival machines.15 Such a view reduces man to nothing more than an armored troop carrier, designed and built to protect the genes which control us from within. There is no room for free will, or for any meaning to life beyond the preservation of DNA. But such an explanation for our existence merely begs the question. If man exists to preserve DNA, what rationale can be given to DNAs preservation? This system neither correctly defines personality nor provides man with any meaningful reason for existence. It is only death and nothingness with man ultimately finding himself equal to nonman no higher than, and in fact lower than, a machine, for a machine at least possesses an essence for a higher being than itself. If determinism is true then the pursuit of ethics is futile because right and wrong cannot exist. Man merely does what he is programmed to do. The artist who photographed the cover of the issue of Time in which the above article appeared correctly understood the logical implications of sociobiologys deterministic mindset. He photographed a man and a woman apparently dancing but without touching while being controlled by a puppeteers strings. Man is pictured as not in control of his own life but subject to conforming to the dictates of his genetic makeup. He is not responsible for his own actions and is therefore not a moral being. To quote Dr. Robert Plomin of the University of Colorados Institute for Behavioral Genetics, If behavioral genetics teaches us anything it teaches us that the personality differences we see in people are real; they arent moral or psychological deficits; they have a physical basis, and all of us parents, teachers and society in general should learn to be more accepting and respectful of them16 (emphasis added). The implication of Plomins statement is that a dishonest individual is not dishonest because he suffers a moral deficit, but his dishonesty has a purely physical basis. By the same token we might conclude that a rapist, a murderer, or an adulterer do not engage in these behaviors because they lack a certain moral character but because of the physical makeup of their genes. This system represents nothing less than the death of humanity for it provides no place for man to exist as man. To say that man is not responsible is to say that he is something less than human. But this has to be the logical conclusion of determinism. Francis Schaeffer tells of hearing George Wald, a chemistry professor from Harvard University, sum up the logical implications of deterministic thought. In a lecture given in Acapulco, Mexico, Wald
expressed with great force the modern concept that all things, including man, are merely the product of chance. After he had stressed over and over again that all things, beginning from the molecule and ending with man, are only the product of chance, he said, Four hundred years ago there was a collection of molecules named Shakespeare which produced Hamlet. According to these theories, that is all that man can be. Man beginning with his proud, proud humanism, tried to make himself autonomous, but rather than becoming great, he had found himself ending up as only a collection of molecules nothing more.17

When we subscribe to such a system what can be our view of man? Can we truly look at a fellow human being and see him as a noble creature endowed with a divine essence or even possessing intrinsic value? In such a system man is simply another organism of no higher nobility or purpose than a slug. This writer is reminded of an occasion his wife related to him when she was a medical student. She had become concerned over the type of physicians her colleagues were becoming due to her having heard one of her fellow students refer to a patient suffering from a rare disease as an interesting problem to challenge my intellect. To this young doctor, who adhered to a purely evolutionary view of man, this patient meant nothing more to him than that. He had no real concern for the patient as a person, nor did he view her as possessing any inherent value for her own sake; his only interest in her lay in the fact that she provided him a unique opportunity to match wits with a particularly troublesome disease. (It is interesting to consider whether this young doctor is now among many physicians who, after treating their patients with no higher respect than a virus, wonder why it is that physicians no longer have the respect of the general populace.) Christianity is the only system that gives us a logical and rational reason to maintain a high view of man, and it is the only system that offers us a reasonable way out of our dilemma. Christianity can explain personality in man because, unlike the two lakes in the Alpine valleys, its source is sufficient. God is a personal God, and He has created man in His image. Therefore, the Christian takes a very high view of man and sees him as a creature of immense value and worth. This is not presumptuous of us. Unfortunately some Christians feel that we must diminish mans significance for fear of detracting from the greatness and glory of God. But while it is true that man can be led to think more highly of himself than he ought, it is also true that Scripture paints a very high view of man. Psalm 8:4, 5, for example, states: What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visits him? For thou has made him but little lower than God, And crownest him with glory and honor (ERV). Though some translations substitute the word angels for God, the actual Hebrew is very emphatic in stating that man is created just a little lower than God and is crowned with glory and honor. This passage clearly exemplifies a high view of man yet still expounds on the greatness and excellence of God. What it teaches us is that man is valuable and that there isnt an infinite gulf between man and God, because man has been made in Gods image he dwells on the same side of the chasm as God because both are personal beings. Now we must recognize that both the concept of determinism and the concept of free will are faith commitments. There probably is no way to verify purely objectively whether mans actions are predetermined by his genetic makeup or whether his actions are governed by his own free initiative. But we ought to not on that account ignore in which direction the evidences point. We are not obliged to choose or believe in either determinism or free will as a matter of preference; we are to choose to believe in one or the other because it is true of reality and of the universe that really exists. We are to use our ability to reason as we look into the two systems with an eye for truth. In doing so we may objectively discover that the biblical view offers a rational, believable explanation for mans nature; determinism does not. In a deterministic system there cannot even be communication, for communication presupposes free will and the

free expression of ideas; yet the fact that we do communicate in itself invalidates the system. Reason will show us which system is true and which is false. This ability to reason is itself a further evidence of our having been made in Gods image. Some Christians limit their understanding of mans having been made in Gods image to the fact that man, unlike the animals, has been given an immortal soul. But there is more to it than that. Also unlike the animals, man has the ability to reason and think intelligently and to make moral choices. It is in this way too that man reflects the image of his Creator. Having been made thus man is called upon to use his reasoning abilities in the service of his God. He is not to bypass the mind and reach out into the unknown void on unsupported faith as the modern theologians claim. His faith is not to be unsubstantiated faith based on personal choice, but it is to be based on the reality of what is. Neither is he to set his mind aside and rely only on some sort of charismatic experience as some religious groups insist. These groups often view man as a dichotomy, a being possessing a body that is evil, a soul that is good, and a mind that is suspect. To these groups the experience is the fundamental criterion for understanding truth, and experience rather than reason is to be relied on in determining religious truth. Some groups even go so far as to criticize asking questions on the basis that questioning represents an immature faith. To these people belief is everything. But both the liberal theological approach and the charismatic approach to the question of the mind in religion are in error. As we have shown already, if modern theologys basic premises are correct, then man is like a fish with lungs: He has personality and rationality, neither of which he needs in a universe that is otherwise entirely impersonal and irrational, and both of which render man utterly unfulfillable. In this system man not only does not need personality, but he does not need religion either, because it too would be meaningless in a world without God. In the thinking of the more conservative denominations who nonetheless divide man into parts, we lose the unity of Gods creation. God created man as a whole being, and it is with the whole being that man is to serve God. Colossians 3:17 says, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in light of that the Christian should realize that this includes the whole person body, soul, and mind. As we hope to see in the further course of this study, Christianity does not consist in keeping oneself from a certain number of religious taboos, but it requires the bringing of oneself entirely under the lordship of Christ. In summary, we see that man, in the Christian view, is valuable. He is a unified being. He is made in the image of his Creator. He is like the animals and the rest of creation in the realm of his finiteness, but in the realm of personality he transcends the rest of creation because he has intellect, rationality, discernment, verbal communication, and the ability to make moral choices. That is why Jesus told His followers, Of how much more value is man than a sheep? (Matthew 12:12) and, You are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). Man is a noble creature, made just a little lower than God and crowned with glory and honor. So the Christian sees his fellow man as high, but fallen; the modern man must ultimately see his fellow man as low, meaningless, valueless, absurd. In order to find which view is true we have but to ask which system answers the questions about life. Which is more reasonable? Does Christianity or contemporary philosophy speak to what really exists? If a person has no belief in God whatever yet is asked to answer honestly which system hypothetically offers the more reasonable

explanation for man and the universe, he would have to admit that it is the Christian system. This system we must choose, then, not as a matter of personal preference, but because it is true. As the Christian approaches his ethical dealings with his fellow man he must maintain this high, biblical view of man. We cannot bless God and curse men, says St. James, because man is made in the image of God, he bears His likeness, and he possesses a part of His divine personality (James 3:9). This is significant in our ethical system, because we make most of our moral and ethical choices when we choose our view of man.

3. Christian ethics rests on Scripture Since the Christians God is an infinite, personal God who possesses characteristics of holiness and love and who likewise possesses intellect, and since this God has created man in His own image, in His likeness, so that man too is personal, rational, and in possession of a moral consciousness, it is therefore not unreasonable to accept the fact that God has communicated to man and conveyed to him His divine will. We find evidence of communication within the Godhead even before the foundation of the universe (cf. Genesis 1:26, John 1:1-3), God communicating with Himself in rational terms. We also recognize that man is endowed with the ability to communicate with his fellow man in rational terms, this being possible because man is made in the image of the higher Communicator. Since, therefore, both man and God are capable of horizontal communication, and seeing as God (the higher) has created man (the lower) to bear His image in this respect, it should not surprise us or appear unreasonable to discover that there is also a vertical communication between the Creator and the created. Furthermore, if God has communicated with man, it is also not unreasonable that He should communicate propositionally that is, that He should communicate in such a manner that truth and error can be known and that He should communicate in a similar manner to that which man uses to communicate with man. We find evidence of just such vertical communication in Acts 26:14 where St. Paul says that the risen Christ spoke to him in the Hebrew language. This was no mystical language or vague feeling that St. Paul experience, but it was real, intelligent, verbal communication. And it is thus through such verbal, rational, and intelligent communication that God has let His will be known to mankind. Though God has spoken to mankind in many ways (through the Patriarchs and Prophets, for example), His communication has been accomplished principally through Scripture. And just as God has done with Himself in creating a universe that bears the image of its Creator so that He may be objectively verified through what can be seen and known, He has done likewise with Scripture. He has made His will known and has expressed it in such a way that it may be objectively verified. This He has done by making Scripture a unity with what is, speaking of the universe and history in terms that can be verified through what can be seen and known. He did not simply give man a theological textbook, as other religions claim to possess, but He set His Word solidly in the truth of what is. He reveals theology, but He reveals it in the context of the universe and human history. In so doing He has left His Word open to examination, for when it speaks of the universe or history it must be found to speak truly of those things. If Scripture were found to be unreliable in its references to history or to the universe as we know it to be, then it also would be highly suspect in its reference to theological concepts. (We might compare, for

instance, the holy writings of other world religions and note that when they speak of history or the universe, they often speak not as things really are. The Rig-Veda of the Hindus, to cite but one example, speaks of the universe as having come about as a result of a cosmic sacrifice, the universe formerly having been a cosmic cow that was dismembered to produce the mountains, rivers, earth, and all living creatures. When the Bible speaks of the universe it speaks of it in terms of how it really is.) When God speaks, therefore, He speaks truth not only about Himself but also about the physical universe as well. What He reveals about man, the universe, and history may be subjected to objective evaluation and found to be true. As a result, when He speaks about Himself He may be believed, and He may be believed on the basis of our own rational examination of what He has spoken in other areas. In learning for ourselves the truth that God has spoken about the external world, we may then acknowledge that what He has spoken concerning Himself is also true. We must realize, however, that while God has spoken truly about the universe and about Himself, He has not spoken exhaustively. This poses a problem for some people who feel that if God were to speak truly about something He must also speak the whole truth and reveal everything that can be known. This writer well remembers having discussions with a gentleman in Alabama who, though on the verge of believing, nevertheless chose to remain a skeptic because Scripture did not answer every conceivable question he could ask. We are not talking here about questions that deal with salvation or justification or Christian living or even questions that pertain to the universe itself, but questions that deal with pure speculation and that have no real bearing on a persons belief questions that God simply has chosen not to answer. But because God has chosen not to reveal everything about Himself does not mean that what He has revealed is less than true. One could stand before an audience and give an autobiographical sketch of his life, but whether he speaks for ten minutes or ten hours he could never reveal everything about himself to his hearers nor would there be any need for him to do so. But his audience could not assume as a result of his limited revelation that what he has spoken about himself is not true. One could only assume that he spoke falsely if the information he gave about things that can be verified proved false. It is the same with Gods revelation. What He has spoken regarding the things that can be verified can be observed to be true; therefore, what He has spoken regarding Himself and His will also may be accepted as true on that basis. In Scripture, then, God has communicated His mind, character, and will to mankind. We must therefore recognize the authority of His Word, for through it He gives us truth. As a result, we must put the Word over our own personal experience. Whether the experience be the irrational faith-assumption of the modern theologian or the subjective, emotional experience of the charismatic or even the true, wholesome experience of the faithful Christian, the experience must not take precedence over the Word. The Christian cannot say, This is in my experience, therefore it must be in the Word, but rather, This is in the Word, therefore I must make it a part of my experience. Experience alone will validate nothing and will give us no basis for establishing truth in any area, whether we are speaking of science, religion, or ethics. Our experience (or our action or our belief) is itself valid only when it is sanctioned by revealed truth. It must first be found to be consistent with the Word, and only then may it be made a part

of our experience. Christian ethics means carrying into life the logical implications. This is what it means to conform to the will of God. It is often difficult for those of us who hold to the authority of Scripture to understand how many people who claim to be Christians can openly admit that the Scripture is subject to question. The attitude that Scripture is merely a product of man and that it therefore cannot be relied upon as an authoritative means of directing ones life is an attitude that has become prevalent within the church today, especially among the young. Because of its pervasive influence, we would do well to try to understand how this attitude has come about. To do so it will first be necessary for us to engage in a bit of a history lesson and trace the development of thought over the last 200 years. Once we begin to see the dramatic change that has occurred in mans basic way of thinking about and of perceiving truth, we will be better able both to understand and to work with modern man. Throughout most of human history people generally have thought in terms of a straight line. On one end of the line is a thesis or proposition, and on the other end is the opposite of this thesis the antithesis. Usually referred to as antithetical thinking, this method of reasoning has allowed mankind to develop a consciousness about the concepts of truth and error. For instance, if we state as our thesis that God exists, the opposite of that statement that God does not exist stands as its antithesis. If we accept the thesis as true, then its antithesis is false. Therefore if we accept as true the statement that God exists, in antithetical thought we acknowledge that the statement that God does not exists must be false. This, of course, is the way most conservative Christians still think today. However, if we go back to the early part of the nineteenth century we will find that a drastic change took place in the way people perceive truth. This change was brought about principally through the work of the philosopher Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Hegel originated the idea that man should stop thinking in terms of a straight line with a thesis and an antithesis at opposite ends, but instead should think in terms of a triangle. On either end of the base of the triangle the traditional thesis and antithesis stand opposing each other; but their relationship and meaning are changed due to the fact that through their interrelation man supposedly works out a synthesis between the two.

Hegels position was that inherent in every thesis is its antithesis, so that in fact there is no such thing as a perfect thesis or an absolute. If one states a given thesis (according to Hegel) one may discover a contradiction within the thesis that incorporates a part of its own antithesis. Hegel

believed that man, through the process of reason, could and would eventually reach a synthesis between the original thesis and its antithesis. That synthesis, in the long run of things, would in time set itself up as its own thesis with its own antithesis, and so another synthesis would later be reached, ad infinitum. As an illustration, we might take again that our thesis that God exists and its antithesis which states that God does not exist. In antithetical thought we would have to say that if one statement is true the other must be false. In Hegelian thought (which is called dialectic thought) we would say that both statements are both true and false. The idea would be for man to reason out a synthesis between them. Some do this by claiming that God exists for them because that provides purpose to their lives, but they do not mean by this any concept of God existing in any real, absolute sense. Another example, which is very often observable in much religious thinking today, might be the thesis that Christianity is true. In antithetical thought if we say that Christianity is true means that all other religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, etc. are false. But because most people today think in terms of synthesis rather than in terms of thesis-antithesis, the idea is now prevalent that Christianity is true, but so are all other world religions although they, like Christianity, also contain elements of untruth inherent in them as well. In this system of dialectic thought the conventional concepts of truth go out the window. No longer can we recognize right and wrong in terms of absolutes. Everything becomes relativized, and truth can only be known in the flow of history, in mans synthesis of right and wrong. Taking up Hegels principle of dialectic thought and applying it to the realm of religion was a man who became known as the father of existentialism: Sren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was the first to propose the idea of the Leap of Faith which many modern Christians accept today. Operating on the basis of Hegelian philosophy, Kierkegaard came to the conclusion that there is no way to establish a synthesis of his beliefs through the process of reason, so he advocated taking a leap of faith. In so doing he separated rationality and logic from faith, rendering them mutually exclusive. Thereafter the modern stream of thought came to accept the idea that reason and rationality have nothing whatever to do with religion and that in the realm of religion faith alone holds sway. Kierkegaard and those who followed him taught that whenever man wants to deal with things that relate to mans humanity such as love, hope, and meaning to life he must abandon his reason and take a gigantic, non-rational leap of faith. But the kind of faith Kierkegaard advocated is not to be confused with the kind of faith described in Scripture. The difference between the two kinds of faith may best be seen by using yet another of Francis Schaeffers illustrations. This illustration again takes us to the Alps where we find ourselves among a small party of mountain climbers ascending a very high peak. As we are wending our way toward the top of the mountain a fog suddenly moves in, shutting off our visibility and bringing with it freezing weather. The guide tells us that we will all freeze to death if we remain where we are, so he keeps us moving along in the fog until we become hopelessly lost. After a time one of the members of the group says to the guide, Suppose I dropped from this cliff and hit a ledge ten feet down in the fog. What would happen then? The guide tells the man that in such a case he might just survive until the morning and therefore would live; but the guide stresses that he has no knowledge whether there is in fact a ledge beneath the cliff.

Regardless, and with no firsthand knowledge whether there might be a ledge beneath him, this man steps off the edge of the mountain and drops into the fog. This would be an example of a Kierkegaardian leap of faith. It is a faith divorced from knowledge, a faith unsupported by reason. But let us suppose that after we had wandered on the mountain for a time we heard a voice come out of the fog, and that voice said to us, You cant see me, but I know exactly where you are from your voices. I am on another ridge. I have lived in these mountains, man and boy, for over sixty years and I know every foot of them. I assure you that ten feet below you there is a ledge. If you hang a drop, you can make it through the night and I will get you in the morning.18 After hearing that voice we might not lie down and drop into the fog immediately, but we would try instead to verify whether the speaker really is who he says he is and really knows what hes talking about. We would most likely pose several questions to him, questions to which we knew the answers, in order to ascertain whether he is speaking truthfully about his knowledge of the mountain. But if the speaker answers all our questions satisfactorily, giving evidence that he must be who he says he is, and then we might indeed lie down and drop into the fog. This is the kind of faith the Christian possesses. It is a faith with substance, a faith based on knowledge, evidence, and reason. His faith in God and in Scripture is not a blind faith, but is a faith that has withstood the test of examination and inquiry. It is supported faith. When a person accepts the kind of faith Kierkegaard and modern theologians talk about, then he may believe whatever he chooses because he believes in something without any supporting evidence. Thus when a modern man says he believes in God, he may mean only that he accepts some vague notion about God; he may even be, like Sir Julian Huxley, one who admits that from a rational viewpoint the idea of God is ridiculous, but who chooses to believe in God because he can operate better if he assumes God exists. Similarly, when a modern man says he believes in Jesus he may mean, as Kierkegaard did, that though the actual body of Jesus may have rotted in the tomb, he will believe in the Resurrection because it is meaningful to him. Thus when contemporary theologians speak of Christs Resurrection they are not referring to an actual event in history but to some inner mystical experience in their own lives. As Kierkegaard said, The Jesus of history may be known, but the Christ from God cannot be known, he can only be believed.19 Thus many modern men accept God and Christ and Scripture, but only in the existential sense, only on the basis of a leap of faith that is unsupported by what they know to be true. Consequently, since their acceptance of God or His Word is contingent upon the meaningfulness it may possess for them individually, they are at liberty to accept or reject any portions thereof on the same basis. They may accept, say, the sentiments of Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd, because it contains some existential meaning; but they may equally reject other portions of Scripture because those portions are not personally meaningful. Many, for instance, reject the command that forbids adultery because sex is meaningful to them. And so, by this method, they are at liberty to pick and choose. If all that is believed is believed simply as a matter of faith, why should they not do so? But the real Christian does not say we are to believe in Scripture because it is true for us, but because it is true. If one accepts religious precepts on the basis of what is meaningful to the individual, then all objective truth is lost; everything becomes subjectively based. Yet this is the

nature of the trend we may observe in the world. There has been a great shift, largely due to the rise of dialectic thought and the decline of antithetical thought, from universal to existential values, from objective reality to subjective reality, from absolute truth to relativistic truth. But truth, if it is not absolute, is no truth at all. If the existential or dialectic views are true, truth ceases to exist and there can be, as a result, no basis for the pursuit of ethics or morals. The Christian maintains his pursuit of ethics and morals because he believes there is truth and that truth has been communicated to man through Scripture. He lives by faith, but it is a supported faith. Through his faith in Gods revealed Word he recognizes that he may know truth in absolute terms. He may know that what he believes is true because it is found in the Word, and that Word is true because it is objectively verifiable. He does not accept the Word on blind faith but on supported faith. To accept Scripture on less is to accept it on less than it demands of itself. Scripture nowhere asks to be accepted on faith alone. For instance, when St. Paul was asked whether Jesus was raised from the dead he did not say, as so many would today, It doesnt matter. He is risen in my heart, and that is meaningful to me instead he said, There are nearly five hundred witnesses still living among us. Go ask them whether Jesus was raised from the dead! (cf. I Corinthians 15:6) St. Paul did not ask his listeners to believe in Jesus Resurrection because such a belief would be meaningful to them in some existential sense; he asked them to accept or reject the Resurrection on the basis of whether or not it was true. If it was not true, St. Paul confessed, then we are of all men the most pitiable (I Corinthians 15:9). The Christian must accept Scripture in the whole man, and that includes his reason. Though modern man says religion is separated from reason, Scripture says that it is not. As Schaeffer has put it, As [modern] mentality would understand the concept of religion, the Bible is a non-religious book.20 He says that because the Bible does not ask to be accepted on the basis of a belief in the void; it asks to be accepted because it is true.

4. Christian ethics rests on a total world- and life-view Jean-Paul Sartre, the noted existential philosopher, expressed the idea that existence precedes essence. What he meant by this was that he viewed the universe and mankind as material that exists but without any purpose or meaning, and that it is from our existence that we must try to discover the essence or meaning to our being. Because Sartre maintained this perception of existence, he recognized that with this world-view objectivity is meaningless as a means to determine human essence; ergo, he could state that subjectivity must be the starting place.21 To illustrate his idea, Sartre drew an analogy using a paper cutter. A paper cutter, he maintained, is an object with essence, and that essence preceded its existence because before it was formed man first perceived the concept of a paper cutter in order to fulfill a certain need. A paper cutter, Sartre insisted, could hardly be produced by a man who does not know what it could be used for, so that if we see a paper cutter we recognize it as an object in which its essence preceded its actual existence.22

But Sartre believed that with man such was not the case. Though he understood that if one first conceives of God as the Creator, then man could be viewed as one in whom essence would precede existence. But Sartre rejected the idea of God and consequently found himself in a universe without a prior essence and without any purpose or function or meaning whatever. If man or the world is to have any meaning at all, Sartre maintained, it must come from existence and must therefore be determined subjectively. Atheistic existentialism, he said,
...states that if God does not exist, there is at least one being in whom existence precedes essence, a being who exists before he can be defined by any concept, and that being is man, or, as Heidegger says, human reality. What is meant here by saying that existence precedes essence? It means that, first of all, man exists, turns up, appears on the scene, and, only afterwards, defines himself.23

Mans meaning cannot be determined by any objective consideration, according to this view, but can only be arrived at from within the man himself. Thus he himself will have made what he will be.24 If Sartres basic presupposition is true that God does not exist then what he says is true, for if there is no God there truly is no meaning to mans existence and he is truly nothing. But in such a case Sartres insistence that man has greater dignity than a stone or table25 is based on nothing and is therefore unverifiable, because a stone or table at least can be fulfilled in the universe that exists whereas man cannot. For all his noble-sounding words about mans responsibilities, Sartre cannot hold to a high view of man for in his system man has no meaning. In his own words Sartre maintained that man is a useless passion.26 In such a perception of reality Sartres position that man must determine meaning from within himself comes down to meaninglessness, since without objectivity there is nothing by which to judge our own concept of meaning. Karl Jaspers, a German existentialist, was aware of this fact, and so he taught that one must wait for some non-rational final experience to find some hope of meaning to life. But Jaspers cannot tell us what this final experience might be, because it is existential and purely subjective: it is non-rational, non-logical, and therefore non-communicable. Even people who claim to have had such experiences cannot communicate their experience to others. Thus to them the universe remains objectively meaningless, its only notion of meaning coming as a result of some kind of personal experience that is essentially a leap in the dark much the same as Kierkegaards religious leap of faith. Existential meaning (if we may continue to use that word) is based solely on subjectivity. This implies, as Sartre said, that in the first place man chooses and makes himself what he is, and in the second place that he cannot transcend his own human subjectivity. In his moral actions, therefore, he must choose for himself subjectively, since there are no such things as objective truths no external rights and wrongs. It should be clear to any rational thinking person that such a system, if put into practice, would result in moral chaos. Sartre attempted to defend the responsibilities of his position by stating that when a man chooses for himself he also chooses for all of mankind. In other words, if a man chooses to live and act in a certain way, he is saying in effect that he would wish that all mankind would live and act similarly. But although such a sentiment is noble in appearance, it

hasnt the strength to prevent chaos because the cry that logically arises from such a position is, Who is to say how mankind should live and act? Without some transcendent values, what meaning do my choices have for my fellow man if he too chooses his own actions? Sartre admits that ones personal choices are meaningless in saying that To choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time that value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil. We always choose the good, and nothing can be good for us without being good for all.27 Elsewhere he states, One may choose anything if it is on the grounds of free involvement.28 But if what we choose is good and has value only because we choose it on the basis of free initiative, then even the words goodness and value have no objective meaning whatever, but mean only what we choose them to mean. Sartre admits as much by stating that value is nothing else but the meaning that you choose.29 Thus cruelties may be good because we choose it; promiscuity may be good because we choose it. Good and evil are of equal value, simply because they are what we choose. All choices are ultimately meaningless for, even as Sartre himself said, no finite point has any meaning without an infinite reference point, and in his system all infinite reference points are destroyed with the rejection of the one Infinite, God. This is, of course, the anguish of which Sartre and his existential colleagues so often spoke. In knowing that one chooses not only for himself but also for all mankind, he cannot escape the feeling of his deep responsibility. Since everything is permissible if God does not exist, then as a result man is forlorn, because neither within him nor without does he find anything to cling to.30 Sartre says that this is the anguish that Kierkegaard called the anguish of Abraham when the angel came and told Abraham to sacrifice his son. As the existentialist sees it, If it really were an angel who has come and said, You are Abraham, you shall sacrifice your son, everything would be all right. But everyone must first wonder, Is it really an angel, and am I really Abraham? What proof do I have?31 In the existential mind there is no proof. Man must simply choose what the right path seems to him, not on the basis of what is true, but on the basis of what has meaning to him. In a circumstance in which a moral choice is demanded, the existentialist finds absolutely no basis for determining his course of action. As Sartre again says, if God does not exist, we find no values or commands to turn to which legitimize our conduct. So, in the bright realm of values, we have no excuse behind us, nor justification before us. We are alone, with no excuses.32 Though somehow out of all this Sartre insisted that he was not a pessimist but held to an optimistic toughness, his long-time friend and protge, Simone de Bauvoir, saw perhaps more honestly the logical conclusion of his position. Existentialism, she said, encloses man in a sterile anguish, in an empty subjectivity. It is incapable of furnishing him with any principle for making choices. Let him do as he pleases. In any case, the game is lost.33 The Christian existentialists like Kierkegaard and Barth must likewise make their moral and ethical choices in the same manner (and with the same forlornness), for their God is not an objective God who exists, but is one that they validate only through their subjectivity. On the bottom line both the atheist existentialist and the Christian existentialist see no rational meaning to the world at all, nor any rational meaning for life and humanity. Whatever meaning they

decide for life comes only out of their own subjectivity, and their ethical systems develop out of this view of things this world-view into equally meaningless guides for behavior. In truth, Sartres basic statement is exactly reverse to what can be observed in the universe. Rather than existence without meaning we see that essence precedes existence in everything, for everything is part of a plan, everything fits into a preconceived design and making. The Christian sees meaning to everything that exists because everything works in a system of order instead of chaos and chance. He perceives man as made in Gods image, and he sees the world and all that exists as part of His handiwork. Indeed, his world-view reflects the statement of St. Paul in Colossians 1:16, 17: For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. The Christian recognizes that as a result there are universal, religious, moral, and ethical truths that are transcendent truths which exist as absolutes, and that the God who created everything is an infinite, personal God who is a lover of righteousness. He created all things with a divine purpose, and hence essence precedes existence. This view is clearly that taught in Scripture. Romans 12:1, 2, for instance, shows us that our essence is to prove the will of God and to know and do what is good, acceptable, and perfect. I Peter 1:16 shows us that God desires that His special creation be as He is, holy. There is essence before existence. St. Matthew 7:15-20 and St. Luke 6:44 likewise teach essence before existence, because it is not up to a tree to determine its own essence; rather it produces fruit that is of its essence. Similarly, man is ordained to produce fruit that is of his essence, and the false man may be proved by the fact that his fruit is of another source than the divine essence bestowed upon him. What makes the dramatic difference between these two concepts of man and the universe the existential as opposed to the Christian concepts is the basic, overall world- and lifeview. One system begins with God, and consequently it sees all things in a proper perspective and understands meaning and value. The other begins without God and with empty, shallow human philosophy. Ultimately these are our only two choices, and everything else in life proceeds logically from this starting place. If we could somehow cut a man in half and dissect him to see how he works ethically and morally, we might find his cross-section to resemble the following diagram:

In the center rests his world-view. The question mark is where the world-view ought to be because it represents the fact that man has a choice. For the question mark man may substitute either God or human philosophy. There are no alternatives, and he must decide. It is impossible to remain indifferent, for in not choosing man makes a choice. As Trueblood has said, The man who says that he will not decide whether to let the weeds of his garden go to seed is really deluding himself, for he has already decided.34 This world-view, then (or life-view as some choose to call it), is that which resides at the center of all our thoughts and perceptions, and it constitutes the kind of grid through which we see the world and everything in it. Whatever is at our center will determine what our values will be or, perhaps more accurately put will determine whether we recognize values at all. What we hold to be of value will in turn determine our attitudes, and our attitudes will determine our behavior all of this providing, of course, that we live consistently with our world-view. We see, then, that a persons ethics is in fact an internal affair and ought not to be construed as some kind of external code of dos and donts. Although our ethics effects and is evidenced in our behavior, it actually rests further back at the source of all our values. We already have seen what kind of world-view a person has when he begins without God. Without God everything is permissible, says Sartre, and on that point he is totally correct. Without God we have no basis for determining values. If we accept the existential view of man, however much we may decorate that view with noble words and statements, we ultimately must conclude that man is nothing, and even the meaning he attempts to give to himself has no real and transcendent value. But when a person begins with the infinite, personal God who established transcendent values and who has communicated these values to man whom He made to be like Him and to glorify Him in his existence, then our world-view is radically different from that of the existentialist. Our values are real values with real meaning, and these in turn give us meaningful attitudes and behaviors that are consistent with the nature of our created being.

We see then that our ethics comes from the center, our world-view (God), and progresses outward to our behavior and not vice versa. As an example of how this works we might consider the Christians view of sex outside of marriage. If we concern ourselves only with the point of behavior, then we understand only that we have an arbitrary law that says the Christian is not permitted to engage in sex with someone who is not his marriage partner. There need not be an understanding as to why such activity is forbidden, but all that is needed is a simple adherence to this external rule. But if we understand first that God is a righteous God who is true to Himself and in whom the concepts of fidelity and unity have some absolute meaning, then we can thus perceive how chastity would itself have value, since chastity reflects the holiness of God. Therefore, if we hold chastity to be of value, then that will directly influence our sexual attitudes, which will cause us to view sex outside of marriage as opposing our sense of value. This attitude regarding the true value and meaning of sex in its rightful place will in turn determine our behavior. Our behavior, then, is determined by the internal value; it is not forced to conform to an external standard imposed upon it from outside. This understanding of our ethics can have a tremendous effect on our motivation, for we begin to view behavior from a completely different perspective. We change from the view that perceives sex outside of marriage as something of value that is denied to us, to the view that chastity is itself something of great value. This is a dramatic change from a negative to a positive view of our ethics. Too often when we approach ethics and morality, the Christian is prone to concern himself foremost with the point of behavior. But as we have just seen, instead we should be concerned with right and wrong at the point of the source of our values. This is in fact the ethic that Jesus taught and died to uphold. As Henry has pointed out, To Jesus of Nazareth above all Christian ethics owes the emphasis that sin is primarily thought or disposition, and that the sins of the flesh are but the working-out of the wicked inner life....35 Our primary concern, therefore, is with the source of our values: our world-view. If our base is philosophy, then our values will be relative and, ultimately, meaningless. If our base is God, then our values are real values based on an infinite, personal, loving, holy source. When the central point of focus is placed upon the externals of behavior, generally we allow our ethics to dissolve into some form of legalistic system of justification by works. Henry points out that frequently Fundamentalist ethics emphasizes external adherence to a few arbitrary customs and external abstinence from a few arbitrarily prohibited things, and that one cannot escape the impression that his main interest is in his code.... [Ones] impression is that the Fundamentalist is more concerned with his code than with the vast spiritual issues in life love, kindness, patience, tolerance, pride, self-righteousness, bitterness, or humility.36 If our ethics is thus perceived and we concern ourselves solely with the externals of behavior without first considering the whys and wherefores regarding the types of behavior we approve or condemn, then we will be guilty of losing our primary center of focus. This was exactly the problem the Pharisees exhibited in Christs time and against which He preached. Concerned only with behavior, the Pharisees had lost the proper attitudes and had corrupted their sense of values. Consequently their lives had ceased to have God at the center their code had taken precedence over God Himself. Their problem grew to the point that they became not so much lovers of righteousness as lovers of self-righteousness. They held stringently to the behavioral aspects of the Law but had lost the moral intent of the Law.

It is true that the Old Law did lay much more emphasis on the point of behavior than does the New, but the essence of both Laws is the same. The laws of behavior in the laws of sacrifice and ceremony are now gone, but the moral law of God remains unchanged. The Old Testament built a base for the New Testament; the New Testament is a continuation of the Old. The will of God, introduced in a few basic principles under the Old Law, now has been made manifest in its fullness in the life and work of Jesus Christ (cf. St. Luke 24:25-27; Galatians 3:24; Hebrews 9 and 10). This unity of Scripture must be properly understood and upheld for us to be able to learn from Scripture the more complete will of the One who gave it. Otherwise we run the risk of falling into the one of two extremes of biblical interpretation. On the one hand we may become one who fails to distinguish any significant progression between the Old and New Laws and who views the commands of the Old Law both moral and ceremonial to be binding to this day, failing to realize that the law of ceremony and ritual was nailed to the Cross (Colossians 2:14). On the other extreme we may become one who feels the Old Law has nothing whatever to say to us except perhaps in the realm of history. Those who hold the latter view are prone to see the Old Testament as utterly valueless as far as helping us determine moral choices today. But the Old Law had a divine purpose, and that was to lead mankind to the New Law of Christ. Although the Old Law placed emphasis on behavior while the New places it on the source, both reveal the same moral law of God and therefore both are valuable when taken in their proper contexts. The Old brings us to the New, taking us progressively from the external law of the Decalogue, to the shift of emphasis upon the inner man found in the teachings of the prophets, finally to the fullness of the Law as manifested in Jesus Christ. This New Law, rather than being an external one, is to be written upon our hearts, as the Hebrew writer said in Hebrews 10:16b: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them. Our Christian ethics rests not upon a system of behavioral rules, but upon a total world-view with God at the center.

5. Christian ethics rests on the Atonement James Denney has written, The new life springs out of a sense of debt to Christ. The regenerating power of forgiveness depends upon its cause.37 The death of Christ is the foundation upon which Christian ethics is built. Our ethics grows out of a grasp of what the Atonement means. Our choice of an ethical life is based upon the regenerative power of the Cross. In order to maintain a proper understanding of this sense of debt we owe to Christ, it is imperative that we recognize the difference between two essential theological concepts justification and sanctification. Too often we are inclined to equate the two and are led to view the Christian life either as that which is lived in order to establish a relationship with God or, at the other extreme, as that which is the automatic consequence of the new birth and which requires nothing on our part beyond belief in the redemptive work of Christ.

Properly understood, however, the concepts of justification and sanctification, while inseparable, are not to be equated. Justification is Gods gift of pardon which was accomplished by means of the work of Christ on the Cross. It is only in Christ that we may find justification, and that comes through grace as a gift of God it may not be bought or earned (cf. Ephesians 2:8, 9). Once justification has occurred through Christ, God no longer holds our sins against us but wipes the slate clean, so to speak, in order that sanctification may then proceed. This sanctification is the new life we are given as a result of our justification. One does not occur without the other, but we must remember which comes first. As Rudnick has said, God changes people for the better because He forgives them, but not vice versa. Sanctification is a result, not a cause, of justification.38 Thus viewed we may see that while our justification occurs once and for all time, our sanctification is a moment-by-moment process. It begins at the point of our justification but must continue throughout our Christian lives. And it is in response to the new birth that the new life owes its debt to Christ, and it is this debt of love and appreciation for Christs work that compels us to dedicate to Christ our ethical behavior. Above all things, the Christian must avoid the temptation to view his renewed relationship to Christ in justification as a final experience. Schaeffer points out that regarding justification
many Christians who are perfectly orthodox in doctrine look back upon their justification as though it were the end of all, at least until death comes. It is not so. Birth is essential to life but the parent is not glad only for the birth of his child. He is thankful for the living child that grows up.... So it is with becoming a Christian. In one way you can say that the new birth is everything; in another way you can say that really it is very little. It is everything, because it is indispensable to begin with, but it is little in comparison with the living existential relationship. The legal circle of justification does not end statically; it opens to me a living person-to-person communication, with the God who exists.39

We might draw an analogy regarding the ethical response that results from the new birth by looking at the actual birth of a child. Once a child has come into the world it is certainly true that it has entered into a new relationship with its parents. But it is also true that it has received that relationship in a new life which it gives evidence of possessing. If a child is born and then ceases to give evidence that it is alive and growing, then it has died. So long as it is alive it gives evidence of life and growth. And so it is with the Christian. Once born anew in the waters of baptism he does not thereafter cease to function, but rather he produces evidence of continued growth in Christ. Otherwise, like an actual child, he ceases to grow and dies. This is what sanctification is all about, a continual growing process in the Savior. And as the Christian grows in Christ, he also grows in ethical maturity. It is precisely because of this fact that ethical growth is an expected process in Christian living that static, legalistic codes which are established arbitrarily as a means of testing ones faithfulness to Christ fail to serve the beauty of the law of Christ and cause Christian ethical maturity to stagnate and die. Henry points out that Christian morality is not just a negative abstinence. It is a positive virtue flowing out from the regenerated core of the person. Sanctification is not a mere abstinence; it is the Lordship of Christ and the rule of the Spirit.40 The rule of the Spirit being made possible through the work of Christ, the Christian owes a debt therefore to the Atonement not only for the forgiveness of his sins but also for the new life

itself. It is in response to this new life that we live ethical lives. The Christian cannot say, Because I have lived an ethical life I have good standing with my God, but rather, Through the life and work of Christ, God has reached down to me and I will therefore live an ethical life for Him. The difference in motivation between these two positions is tremendous. An ethical life is not maintained for the purpose of attempting to establish a relationship with God (such would be futile and would end in despair), but rather because of our relationship with God we choose to live ethical lives. The fact that we may choose this ethical life does not prompt us to permissiveness because there is a strong constraint through our indebtedness to Christ. Christ has done all for me, says the Christian, therefore I choose freely to do this for Him. Because the motivation for Christian ethics is what it is, Christian ethics is sometimes called a therefore ethic. It is the result of a relationship that is built on the ground of the Atonement, and it constitutes works resulting from that relationship. As we saw in our dissection of mans ethical workings, the external acts of behavior are or should be the product and result of internal attitudes and values which grow out of our central world-view. In the Christians case this world-view is founded upon God and upon Gods redemptive work through His Son on the Cross of Calvary. The motivation of the Christian ethical life is therefore not from without i.e., not from some external legal code impressed upon him but comes from the law that God has written on his heart. The ethical life therefore results from what God has done for man. Romans 12:1, 2 expresses this motivation in Christian ethics as beautifully as any other single passage in the New Testament: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Here we have a perfect example of the internal law from God affecting our external behavior. I beseech you, says St. Paul, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God. This represents the external evidences or actions. The way this is to be accomplished, says St. Paul, is by being transformed by the renewing of your mind that is, by allowing the internal man to be transformed by the will of God. The important words in this passage are therefore, by the mercies of God, and living sacrifice. The word therefore in 12:1 has antecedents throughout the epistle. St. Pauls epistle follows a very logical pattern leading to this great statement on the basis of our ethical values. Its earliest antecedent is found in 1:18. Because the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and the wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth, therefore we ought to present our own bodies as a living sacrifice unto God, demonstrating in our lives the evidence of the God who exists and demonstrating also the personal relationship we enjoy in Him. John Murray defines Gods wrath as the holy revulsion of Gods being against that which is the contradiction of His holiness.41 We who enjoy a personal relationship with God ought never so to act as to bring revulsion to our Father by behaving in a manner that is in contradiction to His divine holiness. Our lives are to be in harmony with His, that we may prove what His good and acceptable and perfect will is.

Its next antecedent can be found in 3:21-24. Here St. Paul shows that now (in contrast with the past) the righteousness of God has been manifested, not through the Law, but through the Son, just as the Law and the prophets bore witness. Although the righteousness of God has always been manifested, there is under the New Law a momentous change in respect of this manifestation. It is not openly visible through Gods Son, Jesus Christ, who is he moral laws incarnate

as Von Haering expressed it. All have sinned and fallen short of Gods glory, but through the Son we are justified by grace as a gift, and that redemption is that of which Christ is the very embodiment. Therefore we ought so to live, says St. Paul.
42

We may also look to 5:8 and an antecedent to 12:1, 2, where St. Paul states that all this work was accomplished while we were yet sinners. It is therefore clear that our ethics cannot be an attempt to accomplish a relationship with God, for He began re-establishing our relationship long before we became conscious of its necessity. The work was done on Gods part alone, not only without our assistance but also while we were yet in rebellion against Him. Since He has reached down to us to draw us to Himself, even while we rebelled, we ought therefore to live our lives for Him. Our passage also refers back to 8:31-39. In this beautiful passage St. Paul expresses the infinite and unsurpassing love that God has demonstrated to man through His Son. Seeing that absolutely nothing can separate us from so great a love, we are therefore constrained to love Him and live for Him, presenting our bodies a living sacrifice to His glory. Finally, Romans 12:1, 2 looks back to the verses immediately proceeding in 11:32-36. Here we learn that God has consigned all men to disobedience that He might have mercy upon all. How unsearchable are His riches and how inscrutable His ways! And who has known the mind of God that he has been His counselor? Who has given Him a gift that he might be repaid? (How can we seek a relationship on the basis of our ethical goodness?) For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to who is glory forever. Amen. Therefore, by the mercies of God, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable worship. This sacrifice is in no wise a propitiatory sacrifice, for if it were it would mean that Christs sacrifice was not enough. Rather, ours is a thank offering, a sacrifice offered in response to (not in the place of or in addition to) the Atonement. This understanding of the true nature of Christs work on the Cross smacks right in the face of much contemporary religious thought which insists upon works as a means of establishing a proper relationship with God We must see that we are saved by grace through faith, and that this salvation is received as the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9). But in understanding this we also must discern the correct place of works in our lives. The confusion over this issue goes back many centuries. During the middle Ages the Roman church in the West developed a soteriological system of justification by works that was completely contrary to Jesus teachings. The New Testament bears clear witness to the fact that Jesus expressed His opposition to a religion of works, a religion which can open an account with God and seek to obtain salvation by merit.43 Against this Roman doctrine the Reformers were to protest most vehemently. These early Reformers, for the most part, seemed to have a correct understanding of the proper relationship between grace and works in a Christians life, realizing that salvation is a gift of God and that in response to that gift the Christian offers up good works as a thank offering. But over time some teachers began to conclude that since

justification is by grace, works have no bearing on a Christians relationship to God whatever. These people taught (as many in the West still do) that once one is saved through grace nothing else matters. Adherents to this concept believe that salvation is a static thing, and while they admit that good works are commendable, they insist that these works bear no connection to our standing with God. Of course, what these people fail to realize is that a living faith is a faith that gives evidence of its life through works, just as St. James said in his epistle (3:17-24). While this battle between the two concepts of justification was raging, there arose yet a third position among some religious thinkers in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the West who attempted to establish a happy medium between these two extremes. Rather than accepting the false doctrine of justification by works or the equally erroneous extreme of justification by grace alone with works bearing no relationship to ones faith at all, these people attempted to meld the two ideas. They came up with the doctrine that justification is accomplished through a system of grace plus works. Simply put, what this doctrine said was that grace takes us part of the way home, but we must rely on our own good works to see us through to the journeys end. To some this idea came to mean that justification (the removing of sin through baptism) is accomplished by grace, but sanctification (the re-establishment of a correct relationship with God) is contingent on our own good works; in other words, God saves us by forgiving our past sins, but we must then produce good works to show ourselves worthy of Him so He will accept us into heaven by and by. But in truth neither the two heretical extremes nor the attempt at a middle ground offers us a clear picture of the biblical doctrine of justification and sanctification, and none gives the proper motivation for our Christian ethics. Our justification is through the work of Christ not through our own efforts. We are saved by His blood, which we contact in the waters of Holy Baptism. As a result we are given, freely and unmerited, the new life. This new life which we as a race needed desperately, even more than breath itself, but which we could not attain on our own regardless how hard we tried is given as a free gift, and it therefore compels us to respond by offering God all our selves, including our ethical lives. We therefore produce good works in thankful response to the gift He has given us. These works are evidence of a faith that is vital and alive. Works, then, are the natural consequence of faith. Those who attempt to appeal to St. Paul in defense of their position that works play no part in mans relationship to God have an inadequate understanding of the Apostles religion. As Herman Ridderbos, a renowned authority on the life and teaching of St. Paul, has said, That man is justified without the works of the law does not for a moment prevent him [Paul] from vigorously demanding good works as the fruit of the new life and giving all kinds of prescriptions, commandments, advice for these good works.44 St. Paul, in fact, is preeminent among the New Testament writers in demonstrating the therefore quality of the religious life. He clearly recognized that the true Christian demonstrates certain qualities and works in his life, and that these demonstrations result from what God in Christ has done for him. The Ephesians letter stands as a prime example of this expectation. When we read 2:8, 9 we cannot stop there and expect to have received St. Pauls full teaching on justification and sanctification in a nutshell. Springing from this realization in these

two verses are all manner of evidences that are to be manifested in the Christian life. We have but to note the passages following which begin with the words therefore or for this reason. If we were to precede each of these sections with the idea taught in 2:8, 9, then we could see easily how St. Pauls life and teaching flow directly out of and in response to the Atonement which was made possible through Christ. Because we have been saved by grace, says St. Paul, you Gentiles should remember that though you were once far off you are now made near by the blood of Christ, and that as a result of His work the walls of partition have been brought down and we all have been reconciled to God in one Body (2:11-18). Because of Gods grace you who were once strangers and foreigners are now fellow citizens with the saints and members of Gods household (2:19-22). Because of Gods grace I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ and have become a minister to the Gentiles (3:1-12), but because of Gods grace you should not lose heart at my tribulations (3:13). Because of Gods grace I bow my knees to the Father (3:14-21). Because of Gods grace I beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling you have received, walking in love, humility, gentleness, and patience (4:1-3). Because of Gods grace you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk but should put on the new man which was created according to God in righteousness and holiness (4:17-24). Because of Gods grace you ought to put away lying, unjustifiable anger, stealing, corrupt speech, bitterness, wrath, clamor, and malice, and maintain in their stead kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness (4:25-32). Because of Gods grace you are to be followers of God as dear children and walk in love, putting away fornication and covetousness (5:1-6). Because of Gods grace you are not again to be partakers of darkness as you once were but are to prove what is acceptable to the Lord (5:7-13). Because of Gods grace awake, you who sleep, and rise from the dead that Christ may give you light, and walk no longer as fools but as wise men, giving thanks always to God and submitting to one another in the fear of God (5:17-21). Because of Gods grace let wives be subject to their husbands and let husbands love their wives, and so let all our social relationships be held in honor (5:22-6:9). And because of Gods grace take up the whole armor of God that you may stand (6:10-20). Everything you do, says St. Paul, do in response to and as a result of the grace you have received from God through Christ, and thereby glorify God in your bodies, for this is the explanation of your life and of your Christian conduct. Christian ethics, then, is not to be perceived as a system of ethics that decides right and wrong on the basis of what will do the most good for the greatest number of people, because it is not humanistically based. Rather it compels us to do that which will please Christ, for we are debtors to Him. He is to be the central focus of our lives, and it is His way we are to seek above all others (Matthew 6:33). Perhaps the greatest temptation a Christian has to face in this life is the temptation to take his world-view from the age in which he lives. We are easily drawn away from a concept of ethics that is Christocentric toward a system that puts man at the center. But if we conform to contemporary thought we lose our Christianity, for if we conform we become relativists and subjectivists and existentialists. When once we accept the idea that there are not always absolutes, we have abandoned our entire platform of existence in the field of Christian ethics. St. Paul warns us not to be conformed to this world, but rather to be transformed by the renewing concept of the mind. The reality that man is made in the image of God should be

brought to mind to give us our world-view; then we begin to grasp a real concept of the Atonement, that we may know and approve the will of God. Sartre said that if God didnt exist anything would be permissible. But right is right because God does exist and has a divine moral character, and that is the law of the universe. Our debt, therefore, is to Christ, and the love of Christ constrains our behavior because we are convinced that since He has died for all, all have died (II Corinthians 5:14). Our ethics therefore springs from the Atonement. The love of Christ constrains us because we are convinced that He has died for each one of us vicariously the death we ourselves deserved. What constrains us in our ethical lives is not so much our love for Him it is something much greater: it is His love for us. Christ stood in our stead; therefore when He died we all died from the curse of the Law. Therefore we who died live no longer for ourselves but for Him. We all died in Christs death, but just as He rose from the dead so too are we risen with Him. The old things have passed away and the new has come. And with the new comes also a new vision and a new perception of the world and everything it holds. To the Christian, whose old man died with Christ to be raised a new creation in Him, he is to view the world, as Schaeffer eloquently expresses it, as though he had already died, been to heaven, and come back again as risen.45 And this perception, like life itself, is a growing, maturing entity. The Christian who is maturing in his relationship with God, remarks Henry finds that he constantly sees the world with new eyes.46 If we turn back to II Corinthians 5 and continue reading in verses 14 through 21 we see this concept borne out. Because of Christs regenerative work, St. Paul says, we no longer regard others from a human point of view. Our entire world-view has been altered drastically. All things take on a new meaning indeed, all thing now have meaning and all this is from God who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.... For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. Through the Atonement all this has been made possible the new person, the forgiveness, the relationship with God, the new world-view in order that, of all things, we might become the righteousness of God! We are so to live as to manifest in our own selves the righteousness of God by reflecting His character, proving what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. We live ethically as a result of the Atonement. It is not that we are compelled because of what Christ will do or is doing for our lives, but we are compelled because of what He has already done in reconciling us to God. And we live righteous lives with His help, as we learn from St. John 5. In Him we will produce fruit not in order that we may abide in Him (nor can we abide in Him and fail to produce fruit) and apart from Him we can do nothing. Our ethics springs from Him and from His regenerative work in the Atonement, and this is the basis of our Christian ethics.

In summary, we see that our ethics indeed rests not on arbitrary rules but on a strong foundation. That foundation includes, first, the infinite, personal God who possesses a character of holiness and love; man, whom God has made in His image (i.e., man is personal and possesses

a moral consciousness) and to whom He has given an essence prior to his existence here on earth; the Word of God, which is found in the Holy Scriptures and which God has communicated to man propositionally in order to reveal to man who He is and what is His will for mankind; a total world- and life-view that encompasses all the above and directly determines our values, attitudes, and behavior; and finally the Atonement, in which God has reconciled fallen man to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, demonstrating thereby the love that now constrains us as His children to live ethical lives before Him. With this foundation we are able to recognize absolute, transcendent values, which include right and wrong, and with it we are able to approach every situation life may have to offer us. It is on this basis that we make our moral and ethical decisions and seek to be pleasing to Him who loves us.

The Meaning of True Spirituality


In this part of our study we wish to discuss the meaning of true spirituality. As stated earlier, we shall examine this topic for two principal reasons: first, in order that we may see how we are to put our ethics into practice so that we can comprehend the logical implications of our ethics; and second, in order that we may correct some of the current misconceptions about the nature of spirituality that are prevalent within the religious world today. To some readers it may seem academic to suggest that we need to analyze how we put our Christianity into practice in our day-to-day lives. For many, Christianity has become so deeply rooted in their existence and become such a controlling factor in their lives that they can hardly perceive the idea of not living within its precepts. But whether we have matured in our Christian walk to this degree or not, we ought nevertheless to realize that most of us are still waging a daily struggle to put ourselves under the lordship of Christ, and we all face decisions each day that require careful consideration and analysis. A close study of our expected behavior is therefore beneficial; not only for our own personal growth but also in helping us demonstrate to the unbeliever how the Christian may indeed live consistently with his beliefs. This point of consistency is our primary consideration, because it is essential that whatever ethical system one may adopt he should be able to live consistently within the system. If we look at our determinist and existentialist friends, for instance, we will find that it is impossible for them to live consistently with their beliefs about man and what man is. For example, a person who believes that the universe is all chance may argue persuasively in the lecture hall that the universe and life are nothing more than random chance, but when they leave the classroom we find that they do not live their own lives by chance. To take but one example, the late modern composer John Cage believed in the proposition that everything is chance, and he expressed that belief when he created musical compositions using various methods of randomly determining

what notes to write. But Cage, who also was an amateur mycologist, never utilized the chance method when gathering the mushrooms he intended to eat for dinner! It is clear then that man simply cannot live consistently with the proposition that everything is chance, for to exercise chance in mushroom gathering would likely result in a rapid cessation of personal existence. Likewise, the existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre was unable to live consistently with his belief that we live in a universe without meaning. Sartre taught that despite the meaninglessness of man, we should nevertheless attempt to authentic ourselves by an act of the will. Exactly how one might choose to act does not matter in this system it is the act itself that counts. As Sartre himself stated it, To choose to be this or that is to affirm at the same time the value of what we choose, because we can never choose evil. In other words, what we choose is good simply because we choose it. As an example we might cite a circumstance in which a man sees an old lady attempting to cross the street in busy traffic. In Sartres system the man should act, but it does not matter in which direction he acts whatever action he chooses will authenticate his existence. The man might act to help the woman across the street to safety, but he might just as well act to run her down with his car. In either case he will have authenticated himself by performing an act of the will. Neither action would be considered by Sartre as immoral, because morals do not exist in his system. Sartre often argued with his colleague and fellow-existentialist Albert Camus because Sartre felt that Camus did not live consistently with their shared philosophical beliefs. Camus never gave up the hope that man may someday discover morals, in spite of his belief that the world apparently is without meaning. But despite his arguments, Sartre himself failed to live consistently with his system, and he fell from grace in the eyes of many of his followers when he signed the Algerian Manifesto which condemned the war in Algeria as an immoral war. Hence, neither Sartre nor Camus (nor any other existentialist) could live consistently with the beliefs they espoused. This is important to note when we attempt to teach people about the truth of what is. What many people believe in theory is not true of the real world. But what Christianity teaches is true of the real world, and it provides a system with which man can live consistently. The Christian, unlike the determinist or existentialist, is able to demonstrate in his own life the consistency between what his religion teaches and how the real world actually is. As Carl Henry has expressed it, It is characteristic of the religion of Christ to say not simply you must, with an absolute sanction and validity absent outside the Hebrew-Christian revelation, but you can, and to show how the amazing quality of the Christ-life can be shared and approximated even before it becomes a fully accomplished fact in the life to come. Our point is that one can live consistently with Christian ethics. This is an essential tenet of our belief, not only in proving the reality of Gods will to the unbeliever, but also in helping us to determine our decisions in the grey areas of life. If we make a decision that renders us incapable of remaining consistent with our basic Christian position, then we must rethink our decision. That is to say, if we make a decision with which we are incapable of remaining consistent with our beliefs, we either have made a wrong decision of have made it for the wrong reason. We will deal with this point again later in Part Four of our study.

In addition to the question of consistency, we also want to look at what it means to be a spiritual person in order to correct some misunderstandings many people have in regards to spirituality. This is a point that concerns all of us, for every Christian should desire to demonstrate spiritual growth throughout life. Spiritual growth is an essential function of the Christian, and where it is absent there is a withering and death of the spiritual process. But as we each seek to attain that growth, it is imperative that we maintain a clear view of that for which we are striving. If we set our course without a proper understanding of our desired goal, we are bound for frustration and sometimes even the attainment of unsought and unwanted results. Our era seems to have spawned a particularly large number of well-intentioned Christian men and women who, while seeking to please God, have become increasingly confused as to the course they are to take in His service. Most of us find it quite easy, for instance, to feel that we are embarking on a spiritual path when we have just heard a stirring sermon on the importance of dedicating ourselves to the work of the church, or when we have just attended a workshop dealing with the importance of Christian missions. At times such as these we often feel certain of our goals and become intent on reorganizing our priorities in order to accomplish these greater works for our Lord. But when we turn again to our daily routines and our clearly mundane existence, too often we feel that the crushing realities of our lives as a wife, father, student, or employee are thwarting our endeavors to press on to our higher calling. Such a view of our various stations and duties in life as hindrances to the spiritual walk we desire is prevalent among many religious bodies today. Quite often we hear of people who have given up their jobs, friends, and even families so that they can dedicate themselves more fully to spiritual matters. And while it is true that there are instances in which such actions could be necessary, it also must be borne in mind that the reasons behind many such decisions are based on an improper understanding of the nature of true spirituality. Seeking what they believe to be a higher calling, many are doing nothing less than abandoning the spirituality they seek. We therefore must consider seriously the question of the meaning of true spirituality and what it means to be a spiritual person. It is hoped that this section of our study will aid us in answering these question so that we each may grow into the kind of parent, teacher, factory worker, administrator, housewife, or church worker we should become, for we will be dealing with the question of spirituality not only within the context of our responsibilities to the Lords church in areas we already recognize as spiritual, but also will do so within the context of our day-to-day experiences and affairs. Let it be impressed upon the readers mind from the outset that too often many of us make improper distinctions between activities and actions that we deem as residing exclusively within either asacred or secular category. In actuality, we do not find any such strict dichotomy presented in the Word of God. Instead we find that according to Scripture, there is nothing that we as Christians may do or think that is strictly and exclusively secular in nature; contrariwise, there is also nothing that is strictly sacred that would preclude the interplay of our humanity.

The division of everything into sacred and secular categories has its origins at least as far back as the Greek philosopher Plato. Plato taught that physical objects were but impermanent manifestations of representations of unchanging spiritual Ideas, and he drew a sharp distinction between physical matter and spiritual matter. This concept of a strict dichotomy (sometimes referred to as a Platonic dichotomy) was later espoused by some of the pagan converts in the early church. When a person perceives all things as existing exclusively within either a sacred or secular category, there are two possible logical conclusions that may result, and we find examples of both of these within the early church at Corinth. St. Paul spends much of his time in his epistles to the Corinthians refuting this philosophy. Some of the Christians at Corinth were holding to this dichotomous view of the universe and made sharp distinctions between good and evil, light and dark, spirit and matter, and sacred and secular activities and actions. Their reasoning concluded that the body and everything connected with it are evil; the spirit and all concerning it are good. From this view arose two schools of thought. One group held that, since the spirit and body are two separate entities and mutually exclusive, one can do whatever one wants in the body so long as the spirit remains holy. Thus they could perform any number of immoral acts in the body while at the same time keeping the spirit aloof, worshiping God and singing His praises. (We also encounter that same heresy in St. Johns epistles.) St. Paul has to remind these errant Christians that the body is the temple of the spirit, and that we should glorify God in the spirit and in the body (I Corinthians 6:12-20). The second group in Corinth reached an almost opposite conclusion regarding moral behavior. Believing in the strict division of body and spirit, they came to feel that in order to keep the spirit holy they should deny the body anything that gives it pleasure and should adopt an ascetic manner of life. These errants too St. Paul corrects in I Corinthians 7, teaching husbands and wives to render to one another their due benevolence. In teaching this, St. Paul demonstrates not only the innocence of the expression of conjugal rights, but he also goes further to point out that it is our duty to perform these secular acts as a means of maintaining spiritual purity. To St. Paul, a view of spirituality that divides the body and spirit into exclusively warring factions was contrary to Christs teachings. As Ridderbos has observed, every ascetic element that seeks sin in the natural or created, or which attempts to further the avoidance of sin by the avoidance of the natural use of things, is alien to [Paul]. Although such extremes in thought are rarely found within the church today, we do find practices that prove them clearly to be the children of the same error. These may be seen among Christians who divide activities into sacred and secular categories. (Note that we are not here talking about activities that are expressly forbidden to the Christian, but rather are discussing ordinary daily activities.) Those who hold to such distinctions do not make such sharp divisions between spirit and body as did the Corinthians, but they nevertheless often make distinctions between, say, attending services of the church or participating in mission activities (sacred) and working at ones job or spending an evening at the opera with ones family (secular). But it should be observed that since Scripture teaches a view of man that includes his whole person, it is just as wrong for any of us to divide our activities into dichotomous sacred and secular categories as it was for the Corinthians to divide their perception of the world into

two mutually exclusive dimensions. To demonstrate why this is so, we might consider the following similarities. The sensualists at Corinth, who believed that one could perform any kind of act in the body so long as the spirit remained pure, did not understand that what one does in the body has consequences that affect our spiritual lives as well. They believed that simply by maintaining this distorted spiritual purity (which was accomplished wholly outside the realm of humanity), they remained pleasing to God. There are still those today who seem to hold a similar view when it comes to works. They believe that they may do as they please in their secular lives, so long as they counterbalance those actions with good works that will offset whatever evil they might fall into. There are even some religious groups that hold to the view that salvation is accomplished through good works, and that what we do in the secular realm doesnt matter so long as we do what is expected of us in the spiritual realm. On the other hand there are those today who remind us in many respects of the Corinthians ascetics. The ascetics believed that they needed to deny themselves all pleasure in order not to be tainted in the spirit. To them only the spiritual was important, and the less one was concerned with the body and with matter the more one could devote time and energy into seeking spiritual things. (We are not speaking here of those who choose asceticism as a means of personal spiritual discipline, but of those who believed that all matter including the body is inherently evil.) They sought no earthly pleasure, no comfort, nothing for the body at all beyond what was absolutely necessary for maintaining life. They had gone so far as to deny themselves marital relations, not just for a season, as St. Paul advised, but on a permanent basis, believing that such acts only called attention to the body and pulled one away from spiritual pursuits. All of I Corinthians 7 is taken up with St. Pauls admonitions to this group. St. Paul told them that husbands and wives should render their due benevolence in order to avoid fornication. That is to say, those who were denying themselves the secular pleasures in order to become more spiritual were instructed that the way to become more spiritual was instead to perform the very benefactions they were avoiding. Some religious people today again resemble these admirable but mistaken disciples of the first century. By dividing all works into sacred and secular realms, the present-day adherents of this view have merely taken the same dichotomy and applied it to a different property. Seeking spiritual growth, they conclude that only the sacred tasks really matter; the secular works are to be performed only out of necessity in order to sustain life and to provide a means of supporting the family. Whatever lies beyond the absolutely essential must be denied or minimized in order to seek out the higher spiritual goals. What the groups from both eras fail to recognize is that God did not create man as a dichotomous being or place him in a dichotomous universe. God created our bodies and matter just as He did our spirits, and in creating them He pronounced them good (cf. Genesis 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). To say that the material world is evil simply because it is material is to take a non-Biblical view of the world, for Scripture clearly teaches that the world is part of Gods creative handiwork. (It also should be remembered that it was this same heretical view of spirit and matter that led to the great iconoclastic heresy of the eighth and ninth centuries.) The Lord

told St. Peter not to make distinctions among Gods creation when He said in Acts 10:15, What God has cleansed you must not call common. In like manner, we must not view man as a dichotomous individual. (Indeed, it is even a contradiction in terms to call him such, for the very word individual means one that is indivisible.) God created man as a whole being, a unified creature possessing both spirit and flesh. If we are to serve Him as He wishes, we are to serve Him in the whole person, including both spirit and flesh. Such is to say that whatever we do as Gods children, we do it unto Him not solely in our spiritual lives but in all things. As The Preacher has said, Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Our spirituality is not to be found only in the churchly activities in which we engage, but in all aspects of our lives. Carl Henry has said that When Paul outlines the effect of the Spirit in mans inner life, his stress does not fall on resultant religious tasks for which men are now gifted, nor on such factors as power in preaching, prayer, and soul winning. His stress is on ethical factors, on the way of the Spirit that contrasts so sharply with the way of the flesh. He goes on to point out that while it is true that St. Paul does bring out the charismatic expressions of the Christian life, his emphasis is on its moral and religious forms also. We see then that all of life is spiritual to the Christian and spiritual in that we do what it is our duty to perform. It is not ours to classify activities as sacred and secular. If anything is worthy of being done, it is to be done unto the Lord. St. Paul said as much both to the Corinthians but also to the Thessalonians, some of whom had stopped working in order that they could wait upon the Day of the Lord, which they believed was imminent. It appears here [in Thessalonians], writes Ridderbos,
with great clarity that faith in Christ on the one hand, and applications with diligence and order to ones daily work that one may thus earn his own bread and be an example to others on the other hand, are not two things that have nothing to do with each other or of which the first would even stand in the way of the second, but that it is precisely obedience and faith in Christ that constitute a most powerful and unmistakable incentive for an industrious life.... It is to this effect that Paul also, in rejecting all manner of ascetic and spiritualistic heresy, writes to Timothy that godliness is profitable for all things, having promise for life for the present as well as for the future (1 Tim. 4:8). The revelation of Christ does not abrogate the order of the natural and present life, but makes it recognized and practiced, from the viewpoint of Christ, exactly in its divine significance.

All of this is not to say, of course, that certain elements of our lives cannot be overemphasized or that activities, though spiritual, cannot be taken from their proper perspectives and allowed to become obstacles in our path. It is, however, to emphasize the honor and glory in all our tasks, however insignificant or lowly they may appear to us, and to impress upon us the evil that is intrinsic in our discrediting such works as unimportant or, worse, as holding us back from greater things. This section, then, is designed to serve these two purposes: to help us see our ethics in action, and to help us understand the true and Biblical meaning of spirituality. In reaching this understanding of what it means to live spiritually, we should begin to see that indeed all of life is spiritual and that we merely need to properly recognize priorities within the whole of our spiritual lives.

1. The spiritual person demonstrates the character of God in his life Man has an essence, a purpose for being, that preceded his existence. And that purpose for existence which modern man cannot explain is that we are to love the God who made us and show forth His glory in our lives. This means that we are to be a living demonstration of the fact that God exists as a personal God who has a divine character of holiness and love. Whatever is not an exhibition that God exists, writes Schaeffer misses the whole purpose of the Christian life now on this earth. I Peter 1:9, 10 teaches us that Christians are called with a purpose, and that is to proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. As His children, we are to offer visible evidence of three essential facts: first, that God exists; second, that this existing God is a personal God with a divine character; and third, that this God has reached down to us in love through His Son, and in the marvelous work of the Atonement has given victory to those who will follow Him. We might summarize our entire ethics in these three points by saying that our ethics is to be a demonstration of Gods reality, including the reality of the kind of God He is and what He has done for mankind. When we say that we are to live in such a way as to give evidence to the fact that God exists, we do not mean to imply in any way that Gods existence were contingent upon our behavior, as though He were some mystical postulate as modern man often perceives Him. Rather, we recognize His existence as an objective reality, and we order our lives in consequence to that fact. We might demonstrate how this works by using an analogy. If someone could show us that a fire existed in the building where we are currently sitting, we certainly would be sure to order our lives in consequence to that fact. The destiny of our lives would, in fact, be dependent upon how we reacted to the fact that our building was on fire. Similarly, once we realize that God exists really exists we are forced to accept the consequences of that reality. The fact that God exists has a profound effect upon our perception of life and the world in general. We perceive that there can be meaning to the universe and that it is conceivable that this existing God has communicated truth to man, for in Him we realize there can be absolute truth. If we, then, who believe in God, fail to give evidence of that fact in the ordering of our lives, how could we expect the skeptic and atheist to be drawn to the awareness of Gods existence and to reorder their own lives to His will? Although the fact that God exists can been seen in creation in general, His character is to be observed in our lives and in our behavior. Schaeffer points out that Christians are to demonstrate Gods character, which is a moral demonstration, but it is not only to be a demonstration of moral principles; it is a demonstration of his being, his existence. Elsewhere he states, If the individual Christian, and if the Church of Christ, is not allowing the Lord Jesus Christ to bring forth his fruit into the world, as a demonstration in the area of personal relationships, we cannot expect the world to believe. Though there are certainly evidences outside ourselves that point to Gods reality, we as Christians are to live our lives as further proof that God exists. Further, we show in our demonstration the character of the God who exists. We do this because we know that He has communicated His will to man, and His will is that we are to like Him. This is not, as some skeptics would maintain, unreasonable of a personal God. Some insist

that if God had created us as individuals, He would want us to be ourselves and to behave as individuals; He wouldnt ask us to be something were not by conforming to His ways. But what these skeptics fail to realize is, first, that we are a fallen race. By conforming to His divine character, we are reassuming the rightful role mankind had in the beginning. Second, they seem not to grasp that beauty is found not in diversity alone, but in harmony. What is the beauty of nature but the beauty of the harmoniousness of all creation, all things working in concord? In the same way, moral beauty is seen in lifes harmonious connection with the nature of the God who created us and made us to bear His image. We can understand this even in the human realm by observing that it is perfectly natural for a parent to desire his children to imitate his better qualities; and so it should not be either unnatural or unreasonable for God to wish such an imitation on the part of His own children. It was such a desire in Gods heart from the very beginning, for when He created man He did so in His own image. There was, it may certainly be assumed, much more involved in the act of creation of man than the bestowing of a soul and a reasoning mind to distinguish him from all other creation. There was inherent in the act of creation the desire, which was present before the foundations of the world were spoken into existence, for a being who would approach Gods own likeness and who would aspire to His infinite goodness and mercy. For what was Gods purpose in creating man but to share of Himself with beings formed in mind from within His very heart? In history we find that this same element has played an integral, if not preeminent, part in mans relationship to God. What did God see in Noah but a will fashioned after His own (Genesis 6:8,9)? What was King Davids greatest attribute but that he was a man after Gods own heart (Acts 13:22)? God has ever desired of man that he might show forth His divine character on earth. But simply because man is expected to conform his life to the will of God does not preclude mans individuality. Just as we observe a great diversity within nature working together in harmony, so man need not surrender his individuality to render his will in harmony with his Creators. Conformity does not imply anonymity. But where individuality and free will are sought to the exclusion of this divine harmony, only sin can result, for such was the nature of mans fall. Diversity within life is part of lifes beauty, but when diversity alone holds sway there is no unifying feature, no beauty, no righteousness, and no reflection of the reality of God. It is only when lifes diversity reacts within the context of the harmonious character of Gods will that moral actions can be seen to demonstrate the beauty and reality of the universe that exists. God, who is holy, has said therefore that we, as His creation, are to be holy in our own lives. This He has spoken from the giving of the Law (Leviticus 11:44) to the giving of His Son (I Peter 1:16). It bears worth noting that God made this desire known no fewer than five times in almost exact wording throughout Scripture: You shall be holy, for I am holy (cf. Leviticus 11:44, 20:7,26; 21:8; I Peter 1:16). As we saw in the first section of our study, the Christians God is not like the god of pantheism who is an impersonal force beyond good and evil. The Christians God is a lover of righteousness and a hater or evil (cf. Psalm 45:7 and Hebrews 1:9). Therefore, our demonstration of His holy and righteous character must include a moral demonstration conforming to His

holiness. Just as the fact that God exists has a consequence in our lives, the fact that He is holy likewise has a moral consequence in our lives. It demands that we imitate His character and live in a manner consistent with this reality. But in addition to being holy, Gods character is also that of love. These two are inseparable and are intrinsic to His being. Scripture, through which God has communicated to man and has revealed Himself to us, tells us that these divine qualities are more than mere attributes. They represent God in His very being. God is not just a holy and loving Person, but He is the very embodiment of holiness and love. I John 4:8, 16, Psalm 99:3, and 111:9 express this quite clearly. Because these qualities or characteristics represent God in His very being, we as His children must demonstrate these qualities in our lives in order that the character of God may be evidenced through us. Since God is holy, it was necessary that propitiation be made before fallen man could assume his rightful place before Him. Since God is love, He would send His own Son to be that propitiation. So it was through His divine character that divine grace has been made known to all men, and it is through mans demonstration of like character that many may know that we are His and may, in turn, give glory to God, just as Jesus said in Matthew 5:16: Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Regardless what our station in life might be, we are instructed to adorn ourselves with the character of God. St. Paul asked this even of slaves in Titus 2:9,10: Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things. As Christians, the slaves were to adorn themselves with Gods character and to demonstrate lifes beauty in all that they did. This is not to say that the slaves could make life beautiful (indeed, it is difficult to conceive of the life of a slave as beautiful), but that they were to show lifes beauty by adoring the doctrine of God and by reflecting His marvelous character. The Psalmist expressed most perfectly the heart of every true follower when he said, One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple (Psalm 27:4). When we do likewise and endeavor with our every breath to inquire of the Lord and to demonstrate His character, we have come a long way in our spirituality, for we recognize that this demonstration is a moment-by-moment demonstration that encompasses every practical of our lives. Nor should this demonstration be construed as a mechanical obedience to an arbitrary legal code of behavior, as though we were striving for an adherence to a legalistic concept of justification by works. Our relationship with God is a personal relationship based on the person and work of Jesus Christ. As Schaeffer has said, Our relationship with God must never be thought of as mechanical. That is why a strong sacerdotal system must always be wrong. We can never deal with God in a mechanical sense, and we should not deal with him on a merely legal basis, though there are these proper legal relationships. Our relationship with God after we have become Christians must always be a person-to-person relationship.

By so living, we not only give evidence of Gods existence and to His personal character, but we also give evidence of the third part of our demonstration which is the victory that has been won in the Cross. We demonstrate the validity of Christianity which says that through the Cross we are made new creatures and are put again in a proper relationship with our God. We demonstrate that salvation is not simply a future reality not an event that will transpire only in some faraway time but that it is a present reality in an eternity that has already begun. We demonstrate that we have already passed from death to life and already possess the eternity that shall be more fully realized at the Judgment. As Christians, we are perhaps most culpable on this point. Too often we fail to exhibit the truth that God has reached down and has given us a sure victory over sin and death. We fail to acknowledge this victory in our lives. But note how Jesus spoke in John 5:24 where He said, Most assuredly [He did not say probably], I say to you, he who hears my word and believes in Him who sent me has [not will have] everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has [not will have] passed from death into life. Jesus said that those who believe in Him posses now, at the present time, everlasting life and have already, today, passed from death into life. Such a promise should have us on our knees thanking God daily for the victory He has already delivered to us, both as a future expectation and as a present reality. Our demonstration, then, is an attestation to the God who is true and to the truth of His promises. The demonstration of Gods character must include the trust in His promised Word, and itself is a fundamental proof of true spirituality. It is not a demonstration affected in order to come into a relationship with Him, but is one that is made in consequence to the relationship we enjoy in Him already. We glorify Him through this as a thank offering, just as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 50:23: Whos offered the sacrifice of thanksgiving glorified me (ASV).

2. The spiritual person values man as made in the image of God Just as we saw in the first part of our study, we make most of our moral and ethical decisions when we choose our view of man. Consequently, the Christian neither views man nor treats man the same as those who take a lesser view of mankind. To the Christian, Even the lowliest, weakest, least interesting human being on earth is one to whom God has given life and an eternal future. This realization evokes respect. Unlike citizens of the world who seek to use people for what can be gotten out of them, and unlike even those who praise the greatness of Man with a capital M but are unconcerned with the individual, the Christian maintains a high view of man both individually and collectively because he recognizes him as made in the image of His Creator. The Psalmist said, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visits him? For thou hast made him but little lower than God, And crownest him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:4,5, ERV). Whether we see man as crowned with glory and honor or view him as a cosmic accident has a profound effect on our moral decisions regarding our fellow man. The existentialists and the determinists cannot hold this high view of man because neither system gives man any reason for existence. In a deterministic system, where man is reduced to

the sum total of his molecules, man is ultimately perceived as a being of no real worth and who is not responsible for his actions. In this system, man is reduced in the end to nothingness just as he is in the existential system because when all is said and done we find that, since he is nothing more than a machine, man becomes equal to non-man. In either system morals have no meaning, or cruelty and non-cruelty become equal. Therefore, mans treatment of his fellow man is left up to the caprice either of individual human choice or of genetic codes. In either system, man logically comes down to the bottom of the scale because, unlike all the animals and other forms of life on this planet, man can never be fulfilled he is a fish with lungs, because he possesses personality in an impersonal world. But the Christian does not so view his fellow man. Instead, he sees not only purpose and meaning, but also values, because man is made in Gods image, a living icon of His Creator. The Christian should never wish to use, abuse, or manipulate another person, or do anything that would cause another person to feel less than human because his humanity is significant and valuable since it is God-given. Rather, we should endeavor to treat all men with respect because we recognize, even when the person in question does not, just who and what he is. Jesus surely realized the tremendous importance of our view of man when He said that the second greatest commandment of all is to love ones neighbor as oneself (Matthew 22:39). St. John likewise, in his first epistle, expresses the same sentiment: God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him (I John 4:16b). Whether this high ethics shall be applied by a Christian to a particular person, writes Henry, is not based upon the character of that person nor upon the relationship that exists between the Christian and that person. Love is rather a fundamental principle of Christian ethics.... The story is told of an old monk who, whenever someone visited him in his cell, would prostrate himself before them and kiss their feet in welcome. His fellow monks did not consider this inappropriate when a prince or other noble visitor came to him, but when observed doing the same even with beggars and thieves, he was asked why he would treat them so. The old monk replied that whenever he looked upon his fellow man he saw in them the image of God Himself, and he was compelled therefore to bow down and venerate them as living icons even when the image was tarnished and when the bearer of the image was not conscious of the gift they possessed. Our relationship with our fellow man is formed in consequence to Gods relationship with us, for if we are abiding in Him we are reflecting His divine character, and that character is that of love. By acknowledging this, and in seeing that our fellow human beings are also made in Gods image (whether they recognize it or not), we endeavor to behave toward them in a godlike manner, treating them with love, respect, honor, and dignity.

3. The spiritual person shows that the demonstration of the power of God in his life is real, but not perfect While the Christian is to walk in Gods light and live according to His will, he nevertheless must realize that his demonstration of Gods power in his life will always be far from perfect. But because his demonstration is imperfect does not mean that it is not real. We are but finite

creatures endeavoring to live lives demonstrative of the character of an infinite God, and we should never expect our ability to do so to reach sinless perfection. Rather, we are to show in our own feeble way the reality of our grasp of Gods perfect character. But because we cannot achieve perfection in this does not mean that we are to accept anything less than perfection as our standard. We are always to walk in the light of Gods perfect character, just as St. John instructed us in I John 1:5-7: This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin. It is important to note here that St. John does not speak of walking in perfection as a requisite for having fellowship with God, but rather that we are to walk in the light as He is in the light. Walking in the light represents an imperfect demonstration of the infinite God, but it is nonetheless a real grasp of His divine and perfect character. Just as the love we might have for a fellow human being need not be perfect in order to be real, so our demonstration of Gods character need not be perfect to be real. And just as love should become the reference point for our behavior toward the individual we love, however flawed or inadequate our demonstration of it may be, so Gods perfect will becomes our reference point for moral behavior in the realm of ethics. It is true, Henry observes, that the believer at no point perfectly incarnates the will of God. Yet the regenerate life is now placed consciously within the Divine orbit, and the will of God becomes the determinate reference point for the behavior. No Christian should ever expect his life on earth to become so perfect that he is able to rise above sin. St. John himself warned his readers of those who delude themselves into thinking they have achieved sinless perfection (cf. I John 1:8, 10). But in spite of St. Johns warning, many Christians (and perhaps many more would-be Christians) entertain gross misunderstandings about spirituality in terms of perfectionism. Many feel that the call is to absolute perfection, and some have indeed deluded themselves into thinking they have achieved a higher state of Christianity than the rank and file and have been admitted into a spiritually elite clique; others have realized through an honest acknowledgement of their faults that they cannot attain perfection and have grown discouraged in their attempts to live the Christian life. Indeed, one of the chief excuses often heard why people who believe in Christ refuse to embrace Him is because they feel they just arent good enough to be Christians since they know they cannot lead perfect lives. Even some who do accept Christ later throw away their faith because they cannot walk in it perfectly. But what every person and especially every Christian ought to recognize is that God does not expect sinless perfection out of any of us. He knows all too well that There is none righteous, no not one (Romans 3:10). What He does expect is a real and honest surrender of our lives to His will. But even this surrender will be imperfect, for we can never entirely overcome sins influence in this life. What we can overcome, with Gods help, is sins utter control over our lives. If the Apostle John makes anything clear in his first epistle it is the fact that every Christian sins and that none is perfect. That is why he tells his readers of the Advocate they have in Jesus Christ, because he knows that no Christian walks in sinless perfection. My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an

Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (I John 2:1). When the Christian falters, he need not abandon his walk with God. He has an Advocate in Christ who will plead the Christians case before the Father. What is required of us is the acknowledgement that we have sinned we must not attempt to excuse ourselves or call sin anything less than what it is and If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (I John 1:9). We must never make the mistake of believing we can rise above sin in this life, for if we do we are not demonstrating our achievement of the goal of perfection but are only showing the world that the truth is not in us (I John 1:8). And if we say we are without sin, St. John says, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us (1:10). Sometimes we see Christians led astray by such men as St. John here describes, those who say our call is to absolute perfection and who claim to have apprehended that goal in their lives. Those who listen to and believe these false teachers often are honest people who realize that they themselves have not yet reached perfection and probably never will. Hence, many of these otherwise faithful Christians abandon their walk because they see it as a hopeless pursuit. This they ought not to do, because our call is not to sinless perfection but a call to a walk in the light. While we ever strive for perfection (for to do less would be to have a lesser standard), we must acknowledge that our walk is never of itself perfect. As Schaeffer has pointed out, we must not insist on perfection or nothing, or we will end with the nothing. But because we cannot walk in absolute perfection does not mean that we are to surrender all efforts to reach toward perfection, nor does it mean that we are to become complacent and self-satisfied. Jesus said in Matthew 5:48, Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. Our standard is the perfection of God Himself, and we are not to lower that standard, however far we are from achieving it. The Christian is always to strive toward that goal and to measure his life by it. Where we fall short, we simply pray, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner, then continue on in our struggle. In that way we each demonstrate that the power of God in us is real and genuine, but it is never equal to the greatness of God Himself.

4. The spiritual person carries this reality into all areas and every moment of his life. The Christian is called to be both a priest and a citizen of a holy nation (I Peter 1:9,10). Therefore, he is called to show forth Gods excellence, beauty, and reality in his life. Gods controlling influence should be seen in every area and in every moment of our lives not just in those areas we term spiritual, but in every area of life. As Rudnick states, The worshipful response of the new person is surprisingly broad in scope. It is by no means confined to the sanctuary and to personal devotions. Ultimately, all of life and work becomes an occasion for recognizing God and for reacting with faith and with praise. St. Peters first epistle is clear about the universality of our religious demonstration in life. I Peter 2:11,12 teach us that we demonstrate the beauty of God in our lives by our deeds and our conduct, and this is all-inclusive, referring to all the good works which they [the Gentiles] observe. If we could look back at the original Greek word here translated good, we would note that the word connotes that which is beautiful. In this way we see that our moral actions are

in themselves aesthetic and beautiful, because beauty is intrinsic to moral behavior. Just as we observe nature to be beautiful because in it we see all things working together in harmony, so moral behavior likewise is beautiful because it demonstrates a heart that is in harmony with the God of heaven. When the Psalmist spoke of the beauty of holiness, he was not speaking metaphorically but was describing the intrinsic beauty of holy living. Beauty is intrinsic to moral behavior because holiness is intrinsic to God Himself. Therefore the Psalmist could speak of the beauty of the Lord in Psalm 27:4 and be speaking synonymously of His holiness. It is by that same concept of equating righteousness with beauty that St. Peter instructs wives to adorn themselves in chaste behavior in I Peter 3. I Peter 2:13-17 teaches us that we are to carry this reality of beautiful conduct into the areas of citizenship and neighborliness. Some people claim that they are good citizens in spite of the fact that they are Christians. This is a contradiction. We are to be good citizens because we are not in spite of being Christians. For examples, we might look at several early converts who not only were Christians but also were soldiers and public servants in the Roman Empire a clearly non-Christian entity at that time. We note, for instance, that the first Gentile convert, St. Cornelius, was a centurion in the Roman army (Acts 10). A Roman jailor also was among the first Gentile converts to Christianity (Acts 16), and St. Paul speaks of having preached the Gospel to the entire Praetorian guard (Philippians 1:13). Publicans (tax collectors) were often seen associating with Jesus and were among His earliest followers. In none of these cases do we have evidence that these converts renounced their civic duties. Rather, they carried the reality of the power of God into those areas of their lives as well. (Observe the change in the publican Zacchaeus after His contact with Jesus in Luke 19:8: Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.) St. Paul himself, a Roman citizen, neither renounced nor flaunted his citizenship, but he used it to Gods glory and to further Gods cause on earth (cf. Acts 16:37-40; 22:25-29). So ought we to be good citizens, For this is the will of God, that by doing so you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men. I Peter 2:18-25 show us that this demonstration is to be taken even into our menial tasks as servants or employees. If we suffer for having done right in our work, then we are to bear it patiently and so be approving to God, for by so doing we show the example of Christ who, being without sin, bore our sins on the Cross. He did not revile or threaten when He was reviled or threatened, but He trusted in Him who judges justly. He bore our sins that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We have been healed by His wounds. Our ethical life proceeds from the Father because of the saving work of Christ. This reality too is to be demonstrated in every area of our lives. In I Peter 3:1-6, St. Peter proceeds to give instruction to Christian wives to adorn themselves with a beautiful life. The very actions we perform as Christians are to attest to Gods excellence and beauty, to His holiness and love. It is most regrettable that many people have the idea that we serve God only when engaged in something called religious activity. In truth, we serve God in everything we do: in our work at home as Christian housewives, in our jobs as Christian employees, in our civic duties as Christian citizens. Christianity is not something we engage in which gives us feelings of ecstasy and euphoria, but is a moment-by-moment awareness of the excellence of God and a moment-by-moment demonstration of that excellence

in our lives. As Schaeffer has illustrated, our religious experience doesnt end in the moment of our justification, but the clock continues to tick; and in every moment of time, our calling is to believe God, raise the empty hands of faith, and let fruit flow through us. Unlike the Platonists who perceive life as a dichotomy, Christians are to recognize that we serve God in the whole person. And since the whole of life is religious, the whole of life is Christianity. To believe him, not just when I accept Christ as Savior, but every moment, one moment at a time: this is the Christian life, and this is true spirituality. I Peter 3:8-12 sum up St. Peters discussion by drawing to mind this very quality in our lives, that we do not obey God simply by observing some ritualistic observances but by turning away from evil and doing right, For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous. Our lives are to be beautiful and beautiful in that they demonstrate the beauty intrinsic to righteous living. This is not done by centering our focus upon the outward man, but by focusing on the inner person, the unseen personality or character. Our reference point is not self or even humankind. Our reference point is God. True spirituality is theocentric. As we have seen, the Platonists and secularists often encourage people to leave their first duties in order to pursue that which they perceive to be spiritual and religious. Sometimes we even hear Christians say, I neglect my study or my work to do that which is spiritual. This writer well recalls a particular incident that occurred while in charge of a group of student workers in a college dormitory during his undergraduate days. One of the workers, who was scheduled to work at a particular time, was nowhere to be found. This necessitated a hasty shuffling of schedules to compensate for his unexpected absence. After all that hassle, the student later walked in, very late. It turned out that he had been engaged in a religious discussion with someone outside the dorm, and he felt that that higher act automatically excused him from his secular responsibilities. Now we readily acknowledge that, on rare occasions, a person in extreme spiritual crisis may require our immediate services, in which case all other responsibilities become secondary. In this instance, however, such was not the case as it was simply a discussion of certain matters that could have been addressed at a later hour. So this student, though well intentioned, presented a dichotomous view of the world by shirking his job so that he could discuss something of a religious nature. He demonstrated the view that his religious discussion was scared whereas his job responsibilities were secular and therefore unimportant by comparison. Fortunately, as this student grew he later readjusted his thinking in such matters. But regrettably, his earlier actions reflect the perception of spirituality held by a large number of Christians. We should understand that we do not glorify God by being unreliable employees. Instead, we glory God by performing our duties well. When a Christian is a student, his study becomes a spiritual pursuit. When a Christian is an employee, his work is a spiritual endeavor. Whatever we do, if we do it to the best of our abilities and to the glory of God the Father, it is spiritual. But we reiterate that this is not to say that all activities are of equal importance and that there are no priorities to be observed. For instance, we are not to infer from this example that the students religious discussion was unimportant or that his dormitory work was somehow more important. It is simply a matter of establishing priorities, and common sense generally will show us which takes priority in a given case. As a Christian, this young mans first responsibility was to demonstrate God in his life. As a Christian employee, he was to glorify God by fulfilling the

demands of his job. He could not abandon that obligation, except under abnormal circumstances, without forfeiting his priorities. When he saw a need that resided outside his first obligation, he was responsible to arrange to meet that need. But he could not properly forfeit one need to meet the other on the basis that one is more spiritual than the other. What is a persons religion if it allows him to make a mockery of his job in order to debate a point of Scripture, in light of II Thessalonians 3:6-12? What is the Gospel if it allows one man to fail in his responsibilities to another in this case an employee to his employer in light of Matthew 7:12? Do we not, in these instances, first show the power of the Gospel by being the best employee we can be? We do not fail to teach or to demonstrate the Gospel of Christ when we refuse to abandon secular responsibilities in order to hold a religious discussion. Indeed, we are teaching, through example, that it is important for the Christian to be an honest, responsible individual who meets his responsibilities and performs his tasks to the glory of God. And as we thus teach by example, we are demonstrating to others what it means to be a Christian and are showing how they too ought to live and act and arrange priorities in their lives. But what are we to say of the numerous ambiguous circumstances in which we find ourselves from time to time circumstances in which we are forced, as this young man was, with making a choice between two evidently good alternatives? In analyzing such situations, it may help us to remember three points. First, we should remember that whatever we do it is to be done to the glory of God. But in saying this, we must be certain that we understand what that phrase implies. Sometimes we use a good phrase so often that it ceases to have any real meaning, and we must be careful not to do that. To glorify God means that whatever we do is to be that which will give Him honor and glory based on the person-to-person relationship we enjoy with Him. Too, it is that which will honor His name among the unbelievers who observes our behavior. Most of our difficulties in establishing priorities arise from our having an erroneous or inadequate concept of the type of relationship we have with God. We tend at times to think of it in terms of a legal arrangement rather than as a personal commitment. We ought never to forget the personal, one-to-one relationship we enjoy, and that in this relationship we are to strive to do what will glorify and honor Him. Second, if we have examined our options and found (as in this case) that both are courses of action that could honor God, we then must ask which, under normal conditions, would be our first priority at the time in question. If we are faced, as our student was, with choosing between working at our job or continuing a religious discussion, which would have the higher priority under normal conditions? Third, once we have decided which course would be of higher priority under normal conditions, we then have to ask whether the conditions now presented would take precedence over our normal first priority. To continue with our example, we recognize that under normal conditions our student should be working in the dorm at the time in question. But suddenly something else comes up a friend wants to talk about a religious question and he has to decide whether this impinging responsibility will take precedence over his normal first priority. As stated before, had this friend been in an extreme spiritual crisis that might well take priority over his normal first obligation (though it would not have prohibited him from notifying his

employer!). In the actual case, this was not the circumstance as they were simply discussing a point that could have been continued at a later time, after he had gotten off work. In that case, would the discussion have taken priority over his normal responsibility of working in the dorm, or would he have honored God more by performing his allotted duties and arranging to continue the discussion later? Common sense should reveal our answer. Let us use two other examples to help illustrate the point. Suppose that Saturday evening some friends drop by our house unexpectedly, and we enjoy their company well into the night. The next morning we awake and realize the house is still a mess. We recognize as Christians that keeping our house clean and in good order is important and that we honor God by maintaining an orderly house. But, does cleaning the house take priority over our normal obligation to worship in the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning? Obviously it would not, as the cleaning could easily be performed at a later time. Only a distorted view of priorities would consider cleaning the house as something that could not be delayed in preference to the Divine Liturgy. But instead let us consider a different set of circumstances. In this case we are preparing as a family on Sunday morning to attend the Liturgy when our small son falls and hits his head against a table, injuring himself so that obviously some stitches will be required. Under normal circumstances, our first priority is to attend the Liturgy at this time. But due to the impinging responsibilities suddenly thrust upon us by our sons injury, we then must ask whether attending the Liturgy would remain the primary duty. In this case we should see that taking our son to the hospital would take precedence over attending the Divine Liturgy. In most areas of life when we are faced with such choices we should have relatively little difficulty deciding what to do if we remember our first point that we are to do what will give honor to God in our person-to-person relationship with Him. The reason many of us have difficulties in this is simply because we forget what kind of relationship we enjoy. If we view our relationship with God in terms of a legal contract rather than as a father-son relationship, we often feel that when circumstances such as these confront us we are torn between fulfilling our legal obligation and remaining acceptable to God, or violating the contract and being rejected by Him. One who takes the directive of Scripture not to forsake the assembly and extends it to a legalistic extreme comes to believe that nothing (short of perhaps ones own illness or death) should ever keep a person away. Attending the Liturgy comes to be viewed not as a privilege but as a legal requirement, a duty that must be fulfilled regardless of circumstances or motive. But we must view our relationship in its proper context, as a person-to-person relationship, just as the relationships we have with our own children and our children to us. But having said that common sense should generally help us determine our priorities, we also must acknowledge that there are occasional instances in which our decisions are not so easy and in which common sense alone does not help. There are occasions when we are confronted with circumstances in which both our options seem to be equally important and it seems impossible to determine which should take priority over the other. But in these circumstances it is still essential to keep in mind our personal relationship with God. In so doing we can avoid the paralyzing fear with which the legalist must approach his decision, fearing that by making a wrong choice he may risk losing his relationship altogether. Such fear would be justified if indeed our relationship were a legal one, for in that case there would only be black and white in

every situation. But our relationship with God in reality is more like that between a father and his son. Children, too, often face tough choices in their lives, and not always between right and wrong but sometimes between two rights, one of which must take precedence over the other. If a child makes a decision and chooses the poorer of the two courses, the father does not as a result disown him. He still loves him and encourages him. The important thing to the father is not so much the decision that was made but the reason the child made it. When a son has taken a given course of action in the belief that it will please his parents and give them honor, then he is at least working from the right base and is endeavoring to do what will enhance his relationship. It is not as though the son has certain legal durries to fulfill in order to stay in the parents favor. Rather, he has a one-to-one, person-to-person relationship, and he seeks to maintain and enhance that relationship through his actions. Similarly, we have this kind of relationship with God. There are times when we will make a choice in favor of a poorer course than God might have preferred. But God is not a highminded magistrate waiting for us to make one false move. He is our Father, and He understand the difficulties we have and forgives our mistakes. Of more concern than the decision we make is our reason for making it. If made on the basis of selfish ambition, even the better course would be wrong. If made in an honest effort to do what we think will best glorify God and enhance our relationship, even the poorer course will be acceptable. God will forgive our mistakes and encourage us and help us see the better course as we mature in Him. Having said that circumstances often will alter our course of action, we must not be led to assume that this means Christianity reflects a form of situation ethics. This simply is not so. Unfortunately, many people may perceive our discussion in this fashion, especially those who lean toward legalism and see everything in terms of black and white. But there is a tremendous difference between what we have been discussing and situation ethics. Situation ethics says that in certain circumstance things that are normally wrong may become right. Adultery, murder, lying all may be perfectly correct actions in certain situations according to the situationist. But it should be clearly noted that we are not here discussing cases in which we are confronted with making a choice between something right and something wrong. We are talking about priorities of right conduct. In all the examples thus far cited, all actions in themselves are right conduct. It is not wrong to work at our job, to clean the house, or to take an injured child to the hospital. We are simply discussing which action, under a given set of circumstances, maintains a higher priority a choice between two rights. If a parent were to neglect a childs injuries and attend the Liturgy instead, he would have done wrong, of course. But his wrong would not lie in his going to church. His wrong would lie in his failure to meet the needs of his child. It is very important that we define ourselves properly in these instances because failure to do so leads many people to confuse what were discussing with situation ethics. (We will address the problem of situation ethics in greater detail in Part Three of this work.) One further danger that one must avoid in these circumstances lies in the fact that some people who are always looking for excuses to shirk their responsibilities may satisfy themselves with the false idea that they are glorifying God in a decision when in reality they are only trying to avoid meeting other obligations. This isnt always just in the area of church work, but it often entails choosing an alternative in order to avoid being with ones family or to avoid fulfilling some other responsibility. Sometimes we even see the whole picture turned backward

and find a person engrossed in church work so that he can avoid having to perform manual labor or being with his family. These people will pervert the ideas weve discussed here and will twist them around to excuse themselves. This is a danger to avoid. But so long as we keep that first point in mind to honor God, truly honor Him, in all that we do then that danger should be negligible. A final caution: Those who hold to the belief that only spiritual things in life take unequivocal precedence over everything else often experience problems not only in choosing between sacred and secular activities, but also in choices they must make when involved in large and active churches. Many churches today maintain a great multiplicity of programs for the parishioners, and if a single individual became involved in several of these programs he easily could be away from his home every evening of the week. A person thus involved is often praised and held up as an example for others to follow. But unless that person is single or otherwise frees to devote so much time to these programs, one wonders whether he is honestly fulfilling his Christian responsibilities to his family. Often we have witnessed children of supposedly faithful, hard-working Christians grow up and leave the church, and we wonder why. Sometimes it is the result of a parent who became so engrossed in parish-related activities that he virtually excluded his family from his list of priorities and never devoted the time to ensure that his children were growing in the nurture of the Lord. It is good that parishioners become involved in the programs available to them, but they must arrange all aspects of their lives so that one responsibility is not forsaken in order to fulfill another. (Most parishes that offer a variety of programs do so in order to help people avoid this problem. They encourage people to participate in the programs through which they may best utilize their specific talents and which will help them meet both the needs of the parish and community as well as their own personal or family needs.) Too often many Christians look for spirituality in the spectacular and extraordinary. But true spirituality is seen in the ordinary. Ones actions and outlook in life are to be controlled by his constant realization that he stands before God as His creature, and he maintains in his consciousness an awareness of who God is and what His character is like. If a Christian is a wife, that is a spiritual vocation. If a Christian is a student, that is his spiritual vocation. This writer recalls with sadness having read an article once in a Protestant church bulletin that told of an incident in a congregation that had gotten on fire for personal evangelism. One of the sisters in this church was married to a man who was a total invalid. This kind woman waited on her husband night and day because he was unable to look after himself. It was only as a result of volunteer help from other members of the church that she was able to leave him long enough to attend worship on Sunday. She was a sensitive lady and had been moved by the many sermons that addressed the importance of personal evangelism. This lady deeply wished that she were able to join her fellow Christians in Bible studies and outreach, but the needs of her husband precluded any such activity on her part. She talked with the minister about her dilemma, but the minister informed her that unless she got out and began winning souls for Christ, she was going to hell. How sad that some would perceive Christianity as such a heartless religion! Spirituality is not found in the spectacular, monumental sacrifices that we might make in order to perform some spiritual task. True spirituality is found in the ordinary, day-to-day tasks that we all must

perform. A Christian housewife is involved in a spiritual vocation, and a wife who tends to the needs of her invalid husband is performing a beautiful spiritual service. To the Christian mechanic, adjusting an engine and changing the oil are spiritual. To the Christian janitor, sweeping the floor and cleaning the windows are spiritual. To the Christian scientist, his study of the universe is spiritual. .

5. The spiritual person serves God in his whole person The Christian is neither an anti-intellectualist nor a rationalist. But at the same time, he is not irrational. Christ once said, Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:17b). St. Paul also, in writing to the Corinthians, said to be not children in understanding (I Corinthians 14:20). The spiritual person recognizes that he is to serve God with his mind every bit as much as he serves Him with the spirit and the body. Charles Kingsleys proverb Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever is an un-Christian concept. We have discussed the Platonists of the early church who held to a dichotomous view of man. As a rule, they perceived man as composed of a soul which is good, a body which is evil, and a mind which is suspect. But such a view does not fit with the biblical view of man. God created man as a whole person composed of body, soul, and mind, and all of these constituents are to be used in his service. Much modern religious thought says that man should bypass the mind when engaged in religious pursuits and should retreat into mysticism in order to find meaning. In this sense the modern theologians differ little from the Sufis, Muslim mystics, who hold that the soul can receive a revelation of God by a direct religious experience (not through the senses or the intellect) and by this means enter into fellowship with him. Modern Christian theology insists likewise that there is no rational way to discover God or find religious meaning, so it says we must take that non-rational leap of faith about which Kierkegaard spoke in an effort to find some kind of meaning. As Christians, however, we are to recognize that since God created our intellect it is not to be suspended but is to be used in our service to Him. The idea that experience rather than intellect must be relied on in the area of religion is unbiblical, just as belief without substance is also unbiblical. Colossians 3:17 says, And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. In Christian ethics we must realize that the whole person is to be brought under the Lordship of Christ, and that includes the mind. The intellect is not to be bypassed as we approach either our religion or our ethics. Rather, the mind is to be employed in all our ethical decision making. As we have stated previously, Christianity is not a keeping of oneself from a certain number of religious taboos but is a bringing of oneself under the Lordship of Christ. We have stressed the use of the intellect in great measure in this study, but it is not for the purpose of minimizing the heart. Both are to be utilized in our Christian walk. But too often we

seem to encounter a form of Christianity that is all heart and little or no intellect. This is what we must guard against. There is a rational basis for our beliefs, and it is imperative that we recognize this and teach others this fact especially our young who tend to fail to see the rationality behind their beliefs. When we accept our religious beliefs on the basis of faith alone whether we are speaking in the realm of theology, doctrine, or ethics we are only joining with modern man and are stating in effect that rationality has no place in religion. But unless we can defend our beliefs rationally, we have no basis for knowing whether what we believe is true or false. Hence St. Peter instructed all believers to be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you (I Peter 3:15). William Barclay points out that this verse teaches us plainly that our hope must be a reasonable hope. It is a logos that the Christian must give, he says, and a logos is a reasonable and intelligent statement of his position.... As Biggs puts it, he was expected intelligently and temperately to discuss matters of conduct. Barclay further points out what should be self-evident in this, that our faith must be a firsthand discovery and not a second-hand story. There is a mental process involved in the thinking out of ones beliefs so that one may, as St. Peter instructs, be able to defend what he believes and tell others why he believes it. One factor that led to the rise of anti-intellectualism in recent years was the purposeful distortion of the statement that God cannot be proved. Everyone who is honest with himself must admit, as we saw in the first part of this book, that in the sense of absolute proof the statement is correct. The problem has arisen from the fact that many of us stop there without considering also the fact that, in absolute terms, nothing can be proved not even ones own existence! Yet because many have accepted the one side of the statement that God cannot be proved (absolutely), they have concluded that proof is not a requisite to a belief in God and therefore that the mind is useless in the pursuit of religion. Elton Trueblood addressed this problem at some length in his book A Place to Stand, where he says:
The greatest danger that comes from the frequent repetition of the phrase, God cannot be proved, is that it lodges in the public mind the idea that reason has nothing to do with the matter at all. This leads millions to the impotence of mere fideism. The word means acceptance of faith alone, with no concern for intellectual content. The crucial difficulty of this position, however popular it may be at times, is that it provides no means of choosing between radically different faiths. It gives no basis for rejecting the Nazi faith or even the faith of voodooism. Once the life of reason is rejected, there is no reason why anyone faith is better or worse than any other. The pathetic fact is that the people who say they do not need to give reasons for the objective reality of the faith they espouse do not seem to realize how sad the consequences of their position are.

Trueblood was an honest apologist. He clearly recognized that if our beliefs are irrational, they ought not to be held. In another place he admits, If God is not, then the sooner we find it out the better. If belief in God is not true, it is an evil and should be eliminated from our entire universe of discourse. False belief is evil because it diverts energy from the practical tasks that require attention. If prayer is not an objective encounter with the Living God, we shall do well to make this discovery and give up the nonsense as soon as possible. Our minds play an integral part in all this. We cannot divorce our minds (or our hearts) when we approach God. Both are essential. If our religion is without intellectual content it is an

insufficient religion. If it without emotional content, it is likewise insufficient, for it would not address man in his whole person. Sometimes we run the risk when stressing the importance of intellect in religion of being criticized for diminishing the emotional side of faith. It is granted that sometimes people do go too far when engaging the intellect, but that is far less common in todays world. More often we find the emphasis to be almost exclusively on the emotional, experiential side of religion. There are two principal reasons why we should engage the intellect. In the first place, the more one understands about God from an intellectual standpoint the more he grows in an understanding of and appreciation for the loving, merciful things He has done for man. Such understanding draws ones heart in love and awe to Gods Atoning sacrifice made through His Son. Therefore, it is difficult not to be drawn to God emotionally when one develops the proper rational understanding of what He has done for mankind. On the other hand, if one leaves the mind behind and relies only upon his own emotional experiences as the criteria for his faith, he may experience things that make him feel good, but what he fails to realize is that these experiences are almost always empty and without context. He isnt aware of this because he has no rational way to analyze his experience. With the proper balance between intellect and emotion, he can see that the spiritual person, in serving God with his whole person, is fervent but not frenzied, as the experiential person tends to be. There was a painting that was popular several years ago that showed a group of people walking into church. The painting was not very unusual except for the fact that none of the people had any heads. Regrettably, this is how many people perceive their faith. To them their religion is a mindless pursuit in which reason and rationality have no place. They have chosen their beliefs not on the basis of what is true, but only on the basis of what they perceive to be true for them. Hence the reason so many of the more liberal denominations have all but ceased to engage in any type of evangelistic outreach is because they feel that there is no objective validity to their faith and any one belief is as good as another; no religious belief at all is equal to nonrational religious belief. All this occurs when we separate reason from religion. But as Trueblood has written,
The more rational we become the more we are concerned for the objectivity of truth. The same proposition cannot be true for one man and false for another, because then the confusion would be intrinsic and the effort to know the truth would be a meaningless undertaking. Here the clarification provided by Alec Vidler is particularly helpful. Speaking of the Christian faith, Vidler has written, Either it is true for all men, whether they know it or not; or it is true for no one, not even for those who are under the illusion that it is true. Though the subjective judgment of any individual man or group of men may be mistaken, it is essential to the life of reason to recognize that there is something which the individual or the group is mistaken about. What men are mistaken about is what we mean when we refer to the truth, regardless of the character of the inquiry. What we must do, as finite persons, is to try to improve our methods of inquiry so that, whether we are speaking of atoms or of the Living God, we can be brought progressively closer to knowing what is, in distinction to what we happen to believe. I prefer to believe i s an unChristian sentence.

What we must do, he says, is to try to improve out methods of inquiry. Mindless religion is no religion at all. St. Paul said in I Corinthians 14:14,15: For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding [mind] is unfruitful. What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing

with the understanding. If we pray in the spirit alone, St. Paul says, the mind is unfruitful. In such a case what are we to do? St. Paul says we are to pray with both the spirit and the mind. Whatever we do, we are not to suspend the mind. In true prayer we are conscious of who God is, and we pray to Him intelligently and not in ignorance or meaningless jibberish. We come before Him and praise Him in the whole person. According to pagan practices and to some modern Christian beliefs, worship is supposed to be an ecstatic experience. But St. Paul says it must be intelligent. If the mind is unfruitful in the exercise of speaking in tongues, then it is not to be done. The spirit and the mind must be used simultaneously in our worship, not alternately. Though St. Paul says we are to be childlike in malice, in mind we are to be full-grown (I Corinthians 14:20). The spirit of anti-intellectualism is far too prevalent in modern Christian thought, and it has creeper even into many conservative churches as well. The world has bred among us pragmatists who do not approach a given doctrine or biblical precept with the question Is it true? but instead Does it help me? Is it valuable from my viewpoint? Because many of us have failed to instill in our young people the proper framework from which to make ethical decisions, young Christians are more and more prone to approach ethics pragmatically. Somewhere along the way we have failed to show them that there is a rational, objective reality to our moral and ethical beliefs, and many young people today feel that we accept these standards on nothing more than subjective faith and perhaps some of us do. Pragmatists think that religion should be merely practical. If it seems impractical in a given area, then that area must be rejected or revised. True Christianity is the truth of what is, and we should be concerned with understanding, not with what seems pragmatically useful to our subjective experience. Experience cannot serve as our test for truth. Our criteria for truth are the Holy Scriptures and Canon Law. One of the noblest features of man, who is made in Gods image, is that he has the ability to think. Luke 12:54-57 teaches us very plainly that we are to apply in the spiritual realm the common sense we use in the physical. Communication in words presupposes a mind that can understand them. God has communicated to us through words; shall we not then use our minds to understand them? I Corinthians 10:15 and Ephesians 1:17 both teach that we can know the Word of God and have true knowledge. We cannot know anything exhaustively, but what knowledge we possess can nevertheless be true. Colossians 1:9, 10, John 4:24 and Luke 10:27 also speak of our using our minds in Gods service. This includes the use of our minds in establishing our Christian ethics, for self-control is primarily mind-control. What we sow in our minds and hearts we reap in our actions. Again, it is with the whole man that we serve God. When St. Paul taught the truth to others he said that we persuade men (II Corinthians 5:11). His method of teaching was not revivalistic as much of todays preaching is in the Protestant world, but it utilized the process of persuasion. Revivalism works on the emotion by gathering together large crowds and building up excitement. This appeals to many people because it gives them a good feeling. But if they could step back and analyze the teachings

theyre hearing, they might just see that often they are empty of content. Most who become caught up in revivalism do not do that, however, because they enjoy that subjective experience and apparently enjoy suspending the intellect in the process. But this was not the method of St. Paul. Though one could hardly claim that St. Paul was unemotional (cf. Philippians 3:18, II Corinthians 1:4, etc.), he certainly placed great stress on the importance of the intellect for he recognized that it is with the whole person that we serve God. St. Paul did not go about flattering peoples intellectual conceits, but he did appeal to their intellectual integrity. We ought also to approach others in the same manner, and we further should realize that the uneducated person is just as rational as the well-educated. While one may lack the degree of knowledge of the other, both are fully capable of rational thinking. Emotionalistic religion is not designed for one class of people and intellectual religion for another. Both qualities are expected, in proper balance, of all classes of people, for in Christ no class is recognized. When once we begin to see that man is not dichotomous but that he was created as an integrated whole, we also should realize that all of creation was made in like manner. There can be no distinction between sacred and secular. One outgrowth of the Platonic view is that some people believe that everything that gives pleasure is sinful. The Essences of our Lords time held this belief and denied themselves the benefit of anything that would make their lives easier or more enjoyable. Likewise the mystics felt the same, that no soul can have [the] direct experience of God if not first purified from self; the cleansing of the soul of self-love and from sensuality is essential for those who would attain to the Divine Wisdom of the Vision of God. Even the Reformer John Wesley was of the same persuasion, and he went to the extreme of refusing to allow his children to play because he reasoned that if they play as boys they would play as men. But we are never taught that pleasurable things are wrong in and of themselves, provided we keep them in their proper God-ordained context. On this point Rudnick has observed, The Christian does not need to be pampered or indulged, for that would be materialism and worldliness. However, he does need food, rest, fun, and comfort in suitable amounts. Because material things are also Gods good gifts, the Christian has a right, even a duty, to enjoy them and to show his thanks to God for them by so doing. Even sex, which many Christians somehow construe to be an innately evil indulgence, within the institution of Holy Matrimony is both pleasurable and beautiful, and St. Paul strongly warns those who deny themselves this beneficence of the dangers such denial can present to ones spiritual life. All things are beautiful when kept in their proper sphere, because all things were created by God and ordained by Him. It is only when we take them out of their proper sphere, pervert them in unnatural ways, or indulge in them to excess that they become unwholesome and sinful. The idea that pleasure and mirth are intrinsically evil is not at all a biblical view. Even in Christ we find examples of humor and levity. In Matthew 6, Jesus draws a caricature of a type of spirituality, and we would do well to recognize the humor in his illustration. The humor is clearly present in this passage, and it may perhaps be more easily recognized if we substitute for hypocrites the word actors or pretenders, for such is the meaning of the original Greek.

Jesus uses humor here to make a point about the absurdity of self-righteousness. In the caricature of the almsgiver, He presents a facetious picture of a man who glories so much in the praise of other men that he blows a trumpet before giving his alms. Putting that in a modern setting, we can see how ridiculous it would be if someone took out a trumpet and blew on it before dropping a large bundle of cash into the collection basket. There is humor here, just as there is in verses 5, 7, and 16 of the same chapter. This is not comedy, for comedy generally makes light of values; but it is an effective, humorous way of presenting profound truths about man. Elton Trueblood, in his book The Humor of Christ, cites at least thirty places in the Synoptic Gospels where examples of humor can be found in Christs teaching. St. Paul also used humor in the form of irony when he addressed the Corinthians, and we should recognize the humor there as well (cf. II Corinthians 11:16-12:13). Man is the only creature God has endowed with a sense of humor, and as man is to serve God in his whole person even that aspect of our humanity must be used to His glory. To reiterate, there is no aspect of man, of life, or of the universe that, taken in its ordained perspective, is evil in and of itself. God cannot create anything evil for such would be a contradiction of His own infinite goodness and holiness. Evil arose when Gods creatures began to distort and corrupt the goodness of His handiwork and rebelled against His will. The Christians obligation is to endeavor to maintain a proper view and a true understanding of all things in order that he may utilize them to the glory of the God who is the Creator of all things. This effort must begin with our recognizing that he is a unified being created as an integrated whole to serve our God.

6. The spiritual person lives by Scripture As has been stated previously, one of the greatest temptations confronting the Christian is to adopt his world-view and his system of ethics from contemporary philosophy. But he who desires to please God and to present his body as a living sacrifice must avoid this temptation and instead get his world-view from Scripture. Scripture is the standard by which all other things are to be judged. This does not mean that we must take a legalistic position as the Pharisees did because, as we have shown, Scripture does not gives us rules to govern every aspect of our lives. But it is from Scripture that we are given principles, on the basis of which Canon Law is formed and from which we are to make our moral and ethical decisions. St. Paul tells us to Test all things; hold fast to what is good (I Thessalonians 5:21). The good things are determined by the norms of Scripture. In I Corinthians 14:37, St. Paul also says, If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him ackowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. Our spirituality, therefore, is to be determined by our reliance on Scripture and its interpretation by the Holy Church. It is not to be contingent upon our adherence to a set of arbitrary prohibitions and requirements set up by man, but is to be contingent upon our bringing our lives into harmony with the divine communcation of God. Spirituality is seen in the mundane, ordinary aspects of our lives and not in some extraordinary or supernatural way. The

spiritual person therefore finds Gods spirit through Scripture and the Church, not through ecstatic experiences. His reliance on Gods revealed Word is preeminent in his life. This, of course, does not mean, as some have felt, that he is to abandon all other pursuits but the study of Scripture, but that in all his pursuits, however great or small, his life and actions are to be governed by the norms of Gods Word. In the realm of ethics, too, he finds his decisions shaped and controlled by these directives. It is only when we allow our lives to be so governed that the Word of God becomes, as the Psalmist wrote, a lamp to my feet And a light to my path (Psalm 119:05).

Situation Ethics: A Temptation to Relativism


Although it is not read much today, when Joseph Fletcher first published his new morality in 1966, he stood the Christian world of ethics on its head. The influence of his work, which was written in an almost colloquial style and became popular among both intellectual and lay readers of the day, had far-reaching effects that in large measure shaped the way most contemporary people view ethics in the twenty-first century. Because of its ubiquitous influence in todays culture, we wish in this section to return to Fletchers original treatise, Situation Ethics, and compare its tenets with what we have been studying about Christian moral foundations. While this analysis will by no means be exhaustive, it is hoped that in this section we may demonstate the inherent weakenesses of situation ethics and show that, whatever its claims to the contrary, it is not a Christian system(1) Rather than establishing itself on the solid foundations of absolutes upon which Christianity itself rests, situation ethics is in essence nothing more than a theologized adaptation of twentieth-century secular relativistic philosophy. It is largely because situation ethics claims to be a Christian ethic that it has become so widely accepted by many religious groups in todays world. Although in its early days situationism was espoused only by some of the more liberal elements within Christendom, through the years it has become a major influence in nearly all Christian circles and has been adapted to varying degress by not a few of even the most conservative faiths. Its impact today is particularly strong upon the young, and it is often appealed to in an attempt to retain traditional Christian concepts while simultaneously conforming to the ethical and moral laxities of the world. The influence of situationism has not been limited to the liberal-minded and the young, however, since many conservative Christians who otherwise adamantly denounce such a system nonetheless lapse into situational thinking from time to time in attempts to justify various actions and behaviors. It is therefore a necessity that we examine the system closely and determine whether its tenets are true and to what extent, and to endeavor, if it is false, to erradicate its influence in our lives.

Since this present analysis will be brief, the reader is encouraged to pursue additional reading on the subject, especially if he intends to work with young people or converts to Christianity, for they are among the most highly influenced by this system. Our aim here will be to show only a few of the many flaws in the basic teachings of situation ethics.

One of the greatest appeals that situation ethics makes for all religious people is its claim of recognizing the Christian ideal of love as its only norm for behavior. The fact that love is the central message of the Gospel makes situationism appear to grow out of a biblical framework. By appealing to love and by using a number of other Christian connotation words, situationism presents itself in the guise of Christian principles. So when we approach this system we must bring to remembrance the illustration our Lord used of the wolf that disguises itself in sheeps clothing (Matthew 7:15). The fact that liberal theologians would readily accept and promote this system comes as no surprise, seeing as neither situationism nor modern theology recognizes any semblance of absolute values. But the fact that so many conservative believers are also influenced by situationisms tenets should concern us; for, as it is hoped it shall become evident, any attempts one might make to nurture oneself on situationism can only lead to ethical bankruptcy and to despair. Rudnick has pointed out that the result of adopting a situational framework is a radical relativism bordering on anarchy. Each person feels free to decide for himself what is good and what is evil. Right and wrong are reduced to personal preferences or opinion.... To deny that God has given us clear and binding ethical guidelines is to invite ethical confusion and revolt.(2) Unlike genuine Christian ethics which rests on a firm foundation of absolutes, situationisms stance is upon non-rational faith commitments. Fletcher, as the high priest of situationism, states that there is only one thing that is intrinsically good, and that is love nothing else. In his own words, he states that Situation ethics has only one norm or principle or law (call it what you will) that is binding and unexceptionable, always good and right regardless of the circumstances. That is love....(3) Yet nowhere does Fletcher present a rational basis for accepting this proposition as true. He definitely does not accept this belief as a matter of scriptural revelation because his own view of Scripture cannot allow it. He does not recognize the Bible as being divinely inspired, so he therefore has no basis for accepting the proposition that love is the only norm as though it were a divinely given directive. Fletcher claims to accept his premise on the pretext of accepting revelation as the norms source;(4) but while he accepts revelation in this aspect, he rejects all other revealed norms or laws except the one command to love. One might ask why we should be so selective? Why choose love as the only norm and not fear or justice or righteousness? Since there is no rational basis for choosing love above any other precept found in Scripture, Fletcher has no reason to insist that his presupposition is any nearer the truth than any other that might be selected on impulse. Fletcher does not (and cannot) appeal to Christ in any specific way to support his system, and he thereby falls short of providing any biblical authority for his beliefs. Situationism, being

based solely on such passages as love fulfills the law, says Henry, excludes an objective authoritarian ethic entirely. Setting aside all positive commandments as legalistic, it accepts as ethical norms only the readings of loves dictates.... [The] assumption that undefined love is the law finds no basis in the teaching of Jesus and the apostles.(5) Fletcher merely accepts the belief that love is all-important on the basis of a faith assumption. His is nothing less than a Kierkegaardian leap of faith, or the acceptance of a belief as a matter of personal preference. To paraphrase Alec Vidler, Joseph Fletcher has no more rational basis for believing in love than he does for believing in Nazism or voodooism all are faith assumptions. When one looks into Fletchers real reasons for accepting love as his only norm one can see quite clearly that his acceptance is on the basis of utility and utility alone. He states that love must work in coalition with utilitarian distribution, spreading the benefits as much as possible.(6) He openly admits that situationism freely joins hands with utilitarianism, and we might observe that all Fletcher really did was rewrite John Stuart Mills concept of utilitarian behavior by using a number of Christian connotation words. His entire work ends up being what John W. Montgomery calls a utilitarianism with a kind of Jesus flavoring to it.(7) But utility is hardly the basis for Christian ethics or even for love itself. Utilitarianism is not what Christianity is about. As Henry observes, to be morally good is to obey Gods commands. The performance of Gods will alone constitutes mans highest good. The rule of life is to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt. 6:33)(8) Though Henry recognizes that there are practical aspects to Christian behavior, he sees that the Christian life must be first motivated by spiritual considerations from which the practical issue spontaneously.(9) Evil, he goes on to say, is to be avoided because it is evil.... [T]he good is never instrumental, something to be prized only for the sake of that to which it leads.(10) If we accept the proposition that God does not exist, then we may as well accept situationism as our code of ethics, for without God there can be no basis for choosing between right and wrong. Everything becomes meaningless, so one might just as well accept as a nonrational faith assumption the idea that love possesses value. But one might equally accept any other belief (such as strength of arms or personal preservation) on the same criteria, since whatever one chooses is ultimately meaningless. Yet when one accepts God as an objective reality, as the Christian certainly should, one must then choose on the basis of the revealed truth of God truth that Fletcher does not acknowledge. Perhaps the ultimate flaw in Fletchers situation ethics is that in spite of telling us that love is the only norm, he never defines what love is. The failure to define terms is carried over into nearly all his arguments, in which we find also any number of befuddling contradictions, irrational faith assumptions, and wholesale confusion about and misinterpretation of Scripture. The number of flaws in Fletchers system should alone render his arguments suspect, but his cardinal failure to define his sole absolute shows him to have been less than a serious ethicist.(11) Fletcher says that love is the only norm, but without telling us what love is, or what is means to do love, we are left directionless. He attempts to offer some strange kind of definition by saying that love and justice are the same,(12) but he also fails to define the word justice.

We all would do well to learn what love and justice properly are and to form our ethics in consequence to their true meanings rather than, as Fletcher attempts to do, define our terms so that they conform to our preconceived beliefs. We might begin by stating what love is not. Love, properly defined, is not a rule; it is a motive. That is important. Love cannot tell a person what to do, but it can tell him how to do it. It cannot serve as a norm but must instead be guided by norms. As Henry has observed, The life of love is not self-instructing and self-directing. Love does not spontaneously and automatically disclose how it is to come to self-expression. If it fulfills the law, it neither obliterates the commandments nor is it their source.(13) He further states that Love is a requirement of the Law, not an alternative to it,(14) as Fletcher would maintain. Indeed, as the hymn writer Bonar has said, Love without law to guide its impulses would be the parent of will-worship and confusion, as surely as terror and self-righteousness, unless upon the supposition of an inward miraculous illumination, as an equivalent for law.(15) Unless we allow that we can be miraculously illuminated inwardly from above, we have no other means of guiding our love impulses than by law, for love is not a law unto itself. Fletcher, of all men, could not admit to a miraculous illumination from above because he did not believe in the Holy Spirit.(16) He openly admits that there can be no illumination to help in our decisions because he grants that it is true that all of us are limited in how much we can know about things, and how competent we are to evaluate even what little we know or think we know.(17) Elsewhere Fletcher attempts to define love as the Holy Spirit, insisting that love is not the work of the Holy Spirit but that it is the Holy Spirit. Yet in an interview with Wayne Oates,(18) Fletcher said he was an agnostic on the question of the Holy Spirit. This leaves one wondering whether Fletcher was in fact an agnostic on the question of love itself. Love, he states, is the only norm, but apparently he wasnt certain whether that norm exists at all! As for justice, it is properly defined as rightfulness or lawfulness or the quality of conforming to accepted standards of right and wrong. Since love is actually a motive (not a norm), it therefore cannot represent the quality of conformity to an accepted standard of rightfulness though it can be a motive for the acquisition of that quality. Any attempts by Joseph Fletcher to equate the two are as futile and as absurd as an attempt to equate fear and law. Though fear of punitive reprisals may well serve as a motive to obey a law, it can hardly be classified as the law that is to be obeyed. In like manner love, when properly defined, cannot be equated with justice, and there is therefore no rational definition of the Fletcherian concept of love-justice. Love is the power that fulfills the commandments, writes Henry, and without it any attempt to keep the commandments will be defective.(19) Fletcher indefatigably attempts to get Jesus to say that love is enough and that we ought to do away with the law, but his efforts prove futile. Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Although Jesus purpose in coming to earth was not to legislate, He did come to teach more than an ethic of love. For instance, we might look at His teaching on adultery in Matthew 5:27,28. Here Jesus did not instruct His listeners to do away with the law against adultery; He did not tell His disciples that they instead should allow love to determine whether in a given situation adultery would be right or wrong. Instead Jesus took a law that was good and

went a step further. Not only does adultery per se remain a violation of scriptural norm, but the desire to commit adultery becomes a violation of the norm as well. The reiterated but I say unto you does not presuppose a criticism of the earlier statement of the content of ethics in the form of law and commandments. It is a criticism of the reduction of the content of those commandments, either by relaxing their stringency, or by giving them a merely legalistic and subspiritual significance.(20) Jesus did not place His emphasis on obedience to the letter of the law but on righteousness, because, as Rudnick points out, only the gospel of Gods love can implement the kind of changes which God wants to bring about in us. The law has no power to change us in a way that makes us acceptable to God.(21) In the teachings of Jesus there is a balance of emphasis on justice and love, not on some kind of indefinable love-justice. Ridderbos has shown that
it is absolutely impossible, without having recourse to arbitrariness and artificiality, to deny this double significance of the law, namely, both as pedagogue to Christ and as rule for the new life, either on the one side or the other, or to distinguish aspects even terminologically from each other. One will therefore not be able to maintain that love or the Spirit or even Christ is the norm and the rule of conduct for the new life, at least if this would mean a substitution for the law.... Love functions ... not as a new Christian ideal or as a new norm, which comes in place of the law or makes it superfluous. It is precisely required here as the summary of the law ( anakephalaioutai; Rom. 13:9). In other words, the law does not find its criterion in love, but just the reverse, the requirement of love is so imperative because in it lies the summary of the law.... But this detracts nothing from the significance of the law as the expression of this love and as a source for knowledge of the will of God.(22)

The nearest we may come to finding a reasonable definition of love (or justice) in Fletchers system is stated in his Proposition IV: Love wills the neighbors good whether we like him or not.(23) Certainly, in conjunction with the complementing ethical teachings of Jesus, this is a good principle. But without a fundamental groundwork from which to operate, the principle by itself is a valueless posit, because without the groundwork how can we now what it means to love our neighbor? Would any and every action be included? The situationist would say yes, if it willed the neighbors good. But are there actions that are wrong even if done in love? If everything can count for love, what then is love? And is there not a bottom line below which love can fall and still be called love? Galatians 5:18-21 would seem to indicate that love has its moral limitations. The proposition that love wills the neighbors good, then, does not tell us which neighbors good we are to seek, nor does it enlighten us as to what acts would indeed constitute our neighbors good. Fletcher attempts to elaborate on these vital questions, but without success. In chapter six of his book he draws several illustrations in an attempt to guide the situationist in his decisionmaking, but after analyzing these illustrations the reader ends up only more directionless than before. In the section titled Calculation Is Not Cruel, Fletcher begins by stating, it is right to deal lovingly with the enemy unless to do so hurts too many friends (Fletchers emphasis). But in light of his avocation of pan-agapeism (that man is to be as God and love everyone), how is it possible to draw a circle of love that leaves certain people out? Who are our friends and who are our enemies? We find in fact that in this noble-sounding sentiment, situation ethics only absolute, its only norm, is not universal at all but is highly selective. It might be asked why

Fletcher did not instead state his Proposition IV as, Love wills the neighbors good whether we like him or not, unless doing so hurts too many people that we like. The first illustration Fletcher uses in his attempt to make his point concerns a bizarre situation (which nearly all his illustrations are) in which an individual is somehow confronted with the choice of saving a baby or the Mona Lisa from a burning building. Which is the person to save? Fletcher says that if the person making the decision is a personality, he should save the baby. But could we just as well ask whether a situationist might conclude that the loss of the Mona Lisa would be a greater loss to mankind? Might not more people be hurt in the end by the loss of the famous painting than by the loss of the baby? What if the baby belongs to someone he does not know, while the museum curator happens to be his close friend? A consistent situationist could not argue against either choice because he has no transcendent base for making his decision. Hence, Fletcher offers no help in the decision-making process with this illustration. Fletcher follows this illustration with another, just as bizarre, in which one has to choose between saving his own father or a medical genius who has discovered a cure for a common fatal disease. In this case, Fletcher says that if one properly understands agape, he carries out the medical genius and leaves his father to die. Here the decision is not to be based on any innate Christian idea of goodness or familial loyalty, but simply on the cold, impersonal rationale of what is the most useful to the most people. In this illustration Fletcher openly admits that situationism joins forces with utilitarianism. A third illustration concerns an actual event that occurred in Italy during World War II. In this instance a village priest was involved in the sabotage of a Nazi train. In retaliation, the Nazi authorities began executing twenty hostages a day until the saboteur surrendered. The priest would not give himself up because he felt that he was needed to give the people absolution, since no other priests were available. After three days, however, a Communist and fellow resistance fighter betrayed the priest in order to stop the massacre of innocent civilians. Fletcher states that One may accept the priests assumptions about salvation or not (the Communist evidently did not), but no situationist could quarrel with the method of ethical analysis and decision. In other words, situationism does not help a person make ethical decisions, since its tenets would decree that the priest would have done right whichever choice he made. With Fletcher it is the method that is important. Such are the problems one encounters with the Bentham-Mill concept of utilitarianism which Fletcher adopted for his system. It cannot tell man what constitutes goodness, nor can it help one know what will necessarily result in benefitting the most people. Fletcher can give us no better idea of what constitutes the most good for the most people. He rules out any possibility of there being absolute standards to guide our behavior, and he recognizes no values of transcendent worth. He does not concern himself with the inner conscience of individuals but presents only illustrations involving the interrelation of people in a society without any apparent concern for the purpose of life as a whole, or for the relationship that man ought to have with God through Christ. For all of Fletchers talk about God, it is clear that his understanding of God and man in relationship to Him is considerably different from the biblical view. It is highly questionable

whether Fletcher maintained any real ideas about God at all, and it is certain that he never viewed God as the One to whom we owe ourselves through the work of the Cross. Fletcher considered man his own master, the sole proprietor of his mind and body. At no time in his work does he ever consider the question posed by C.S. Lewis, Does it not make a great difference whether I am, so to speak, the landlord of my own mind and body, or only a tenant, responsible to the real landlord? Scripture pictures man as abiding in the latter condition. He resides in this temple of flesh, which is not his own, for only a short time. After that there is eternity. In that eternity, man is to give an account of the things done while in the body and will be granted a destiny pursuant to his earthly behavior and in light of his relationship to Christ. Scripture is most clear on these points. St. Paul states unequivocally in I Corinthians 6:19 that we are not our own but were bought with a price. In consequence to that fact, we ought to glorify God in our bodies. There is therefore a higher purpose for man than strictly a utilitarian function that relates only with fellow human beings. Jesus was not just concerned with social behavior but also, and more importantly, with religious truth. Fletcher sees man as existing in a closed universe (which means that even if there is a God out there somewhere He no longer concerns Himself with mankind but has left us on our own). Fletcher sees no need for concern with inner morality or a hereafter, his only interest being in the here and now. He likewise sees no intrinsic worth to any behavior and merely concerns himself with a getting aloneness with those around us. His sole concern is not rocking the boat of the present, and he places all his emphasis on the externals of behavior and the external results. The only evil he understands (dare we use that word!) is death. In the final analysis, Fletchers definition of love (even when applied as a motive) falls short of any biblical definition of that term. To Fletcher love is no more than a utilitarian function or mathematical formula by which one attempts to discern which action in a given situation will be the most useful to the most people. It does not seek meaning or beauty in righteousness but merely usefulness. Its value does not lie in its being an intrinsic quality of Almighty God, but lies in the utility of the moment. It is not that which draws man to God out of gratitude for the love He has shown to us, but is that which compels man to will his neighbors good for the sake of mutual survival. In addition to failing to define love and justice with any appreciable meaning, Fletcher also improperly defines the terms legalism, antinomianism, and situationism. Fletcher defines as legalistic any system that recognizes transcendent rules that cannot be violated. Any system that would adhere to the concept of absolutes any absolutes would be classified by Fletcher as a legalistic system. In so defining legalism he has only created a Procrustean bed, modifying his definitions to fit the terms. Legalism properly defined means reliance upon law for justification, not simply the recognition of laws or rules. The Pharisees, for example, were legalists because they believe they could be justified before God by keeping the letter of the law. They did not see that the law existed to guide their behavior, and that justification could come only through the atoning work of Christ on the Cross. Henry states, Love does not do away with the Law by destroying the propriety of conduct by obedience to revealed precepts. Legalism is not due to the law and commandments, but to a misuse of them. Such an understanding of the nature of

legalism is alien to Fletcher, who says that any system of ethics that is based on Scripture is legalistic. The New Testament, however, is very anti-legalistic in that it strongly criticizes any mere external conformity to certain moral standards. But its criticism of such a misuse of law does not imply a criticism of the law itself. Fletcher seems completely unable or unwilling to see beyond the externals himself, and hence any behavior that would match that which is prescribed by Scripture is deemed by him to be legalistic. We may commend Fletcher at least for defining antinomianism correctly, but we wonder how he is unable to see himself as he does so. Using the Gnostics as examples of antinomians, Fletcher points out that they were so flatly opposed to law even in principle that their moral decisions are random, unpredictable, erratic, quite anomalous. We ask how one could better describe the situationist. To say that Fletchers exemplary decisions in Situation Ethics are anything more or less than random, unpredictable, erratic, quite anomalous would be to fail to examine the evidence. A prime example of this may be found in reviewing two of the situations given in chapter eight titled Love Decides There and Then. In one situation a ship has sunk and one of the lifeboats is carrying twice the number of survivors it is designed to hold. The first mate orders most of the men to jump into the sea so that the women and children would have a better chance for survival. When the men refuse, the mate throws them into the sea. The remaining survivors are later rescued, and the mate is charged with murder. Fletcher says that legalism determined that the mate was wrong, in spite of the loving concern he had shown for the others. Situation ethics, writes Fletcher says it was bravely sinful, it was a good thing. But immediately following this story, Fletcher tells of Captain Scotts expedition to the South Pole in which one of his men became badly injured and had to be carried on a stretcher. Carrying the stretcher slowed the whole crew dangerously, but Scott refused to leave the man behind. As a result, all the men died. Although Scotts decision was the exact opposite that of the first mate, Fletcher says it does him as much honor as the first mates. The choices these two men made were at complete odds with each other, yet Fletcher says both were right. On this basis how does situationism provide any guide to forming ethical decisions? Situationists, by Fletchers own examples, are indistinguishable from the antinomians who (again by Fletchers own definition) follow no forecastable course from one situation to another. They are, exactly, anarchic i.e., without a rule. They are not only unbound by the chains of law but actually sheer extemporizers, impromptu and intellectually irresponsible. It is important also to note that Fletcher commends Scott for his action only by assuming Scott was not simply legalistic in his decision. other words, Fletcher is not really so concerned with loving kairos as he is with the rejection of legalism; he is not so concerned with what does the most good for the most people as he is with the adherence to situationism; he is not so concerned with the promotion of love as he is with the rejection of law. How is one to discern what action is best in a given situation when he must first reject all absolute standards? Fletcher attempts to answer by saying,
... in his more immediate situation he must make his own decisions, and should. If it is true that ones opinions are no better than his facts, then situation ethics puts a high premium on knowing whats what when we act. We are

always free and often well advised to call in expert and professional advice if we choose to call upon it. But if law cuts down our range of free initiative and personal responsibility, by doing our thinking for us, we are so much the less for it as persons.

By these criteria we may accurately assume that Fletcher is not as concerned with our love for our fellow man as he is with our free initiative. In his own words he has shown himself to be flatly opposed to law even in principle, just as he claims the antinomian Gnostics were. It seems, in fact, that Fletcher would rather we made a bad decision one that could well end up hurting people than to rely overmuch on the advice of others or on any external sources (which he would define as legalism). This attitude toward legalism (even his own distorted view of it) shows that Fletcher had an outright phobia of law. He would even willingly risk abandoning his only norm of love for the sake of ensuring free initiative in the decision process, for he is not here pleading for love but for a total rejection of law. In this fanatical rejection, the basis of Fletchers final decision to act is reduced to unprincipled action on the basis of some kind of last-minute mystic intuition. The end result is that Fletchers morality turns out to be nothing more than the very existential ethic he ostensibly rejects. What he doesnt appear to realize is that it is untrue that external authority always involves the moral agent in blind dependence? Another confusion of terms prevalent in Fletchers writings is in his constant failure to distinguish between an act that one does and the intended consequences of the act (which allegedly are the criteria by which the act itself is to be justified). As we approach the final step in decision-making within a situational framework, we immediately are confronted with the fact that it is we who are forced to make the decision of how to act, and it is we who must somehow, despite our finite limitations, determine beforehand whether the ends we expect to accomplish will justify the act we perform. In this we discover that we have to put ourselves in the position of the infinite, omniscient mind. This, of course, is impossibility. We cannot know, and oftentimes cannot even guess, what the results of our actions will be in the long run of things. Though our actions are often well-intentioned, they frequently result in ends nowhere dreamt of in our finite speculations. Not only are we critically limited in our vision of future consequences, both immediate and consequential, but we also must admit that as man we do not always seek the good. Situationism assumes man to be innately good as well as supernaturally foresighted, neither of which can be borne out by history or even casual observation. William Barclay has suggested that If all me were saints, then situation ethics would be the perfect ethics ... but man has not yet come of age. Man, therefore, still needs the crutch and protection of the law. Until man becomes innately good, and until his ability to visualize eventual consequences of his actions becomes much more acute, situational perspectives remain highly questionable at best. For now, at least, man still needs the support and help of the law. Montgomery has observed, Psychoanalysis ... has shown in the twentieth century that people are really not aware of the degree to which selfishness strikes them in their actions.... In order to deal with the problem of selfishness, it is necessary to have external objective standards by which our selfishness can be brought in the light. Presupposed an unselfish nature in man, thus exhibiting itself to be among the most nave systems ever conceived by human imagination.

One of the most serious questions confronting a situationist is how he can know whether the action he chooses will in fact render the result he intends and will benefit the most people. Fletcher, sad to say, offers no help; he only cites situation after situation and, at best, tells some of the immediate effects of the decisions made in those circumstances. Many of the decisions he cites are contradictory, yet they are praised for the method, not the consequences of the actions. After reading through his illustrations, one is left to wonder what has happened to the proposition that we are to seek the most good for the most people. Apparently Fletcher assumes that we all know which choice in a given situation will ultimately result in the most good for the most people, just as he also assumes we know to whom we intend to provide the greatest good. Regarding the latter, Fletcher tells us that we are to love God in loving our neighbor. But who is our neighbor in Fletchers view? We are told that we ought to love as a neighbor our enemy as well as our friend and to treat our enemies well, unless to do so hurts too many friends. Now if we are someone with few friends and many enemies, what would then constitute the most good for the most people? Which are we to love more? If we may be allowed the indulgence, perhaps we should examine this question by utilizing the typical Fletcherian technique of presenting a hypothetical and utterly bizarre situation. (It might be worthwhile to mention at this point that rarely does Fletcher present a normal, everyday situation as one of his examples, but only fantastic, outlandish situations that a person may confront no more than once in a lifetime, if at all.) In this situation we shall assume that we are a small group of Christian vacationers touring the Holy Land. One member of our group is a prominent politician and is sympathetic to the Palestinian cause and has been working toward a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He joins us having just come from a meeting with several top-level Israeli leaders who are in hiding because a Palestinian terrorist group has threatened to assassinate them and then begin a purge of all Jews in Palestine. As our group sits in a hotel lobby it is assaulted by members of this terrorist group who kidnap the lot and demand to know the whereabouts of these Israeli leaders. The terrorists tell us that if our friend will inform them of the location, they will let us go; if not, they will kill us one by one. So if our friend talks, he will save the lives of his Christian friends, but the lives of countless Jews will be the price. If he remains silent he will save the Jews, but he will forfeit the lives of his friends. What is the mans decision to be? Our little group constitutes all the friends he has in Israel, and he is pro-Palestinian to begin with (though he opposes the use of terrorist tactics). Which group of people is he to love more, his small group of friends or his numerically superior enemies? It is impossible to know how Fletcher would answer in this situation, but it seems reasonable that he would decide that the man should refuse to betray the Israelis and allow his friends to be martyred because he would then be saving the larger number of people from death. But what of a remotely similar situation Fletcher presents in his book in which a Negro woman has to make a choice between saving the lives of a small group of friends and an entire nation of people? In this situation Fletcher says there was a group of Pilgrims hiding from the Indians when an infant in the party began to cry. Knowing that the babys cries would alert the

Indians to their position, the Negro woman smothered the baby to death. Her small band of friends was saved. What are we to say of this? Certainly is was true that the Negro womans action did that which resulted in the survival of her small party or friends; but what did her act contribute to the Indian nation? Was not her act in the long run but one small contribution to the near irradiation of the entire Indian race from this continent? Surely we could parallel the Negro womans action with our tourist friends in Israel. Could we assume that our colleagues choice should be to betray the location of the Israeli leaders so that his friends may remain safe? And all of this without even considering whether true good is accomplished in either case survival, yes. But more on that in a moment. In determining whether our action will result in the intended consequences, we might look at Fletchers case which he calls Sacrificial Adultery. In this instance a German woman had been captured by Soviet Forces in World War II. Knowing that her children needed her during this trying time of fear and hunger, she asked to be released so that she could return home to them. However, there were but two conditions allowing the release of prisoners of war: illness or pregnancy. The woman decided to ask a prison guard to impregnate her so she could be freed. The guard complied, and the woman was released and reunited with her children. Nowhere in this discussion does Fletcher ask whether any other consequences are significant except the womans reunification with her children. He does not ask, for example, whether the Soviet guard was respected as a person or was simply used as a tool to achieve the desired end an end that some might consider selfish at that. Fletcher never asks whether the woman was running the risk of the guards conscience in asking him to impregnate her. It is particularly striking to look at this case of sacrificial adultery and compare it with Fletchers statement that Love is of people, by people, and for people. Things are to be used; people are to be loved. It is immoral when people are used and things are loved. Yet was not the Soviet guard used? Was he loved as a person, or was he simply used as a thing? In all such cases, Fletcher concerns himself only with the immediate, external consequences and judges acts on the basis of their utilitarian value. He often forgets to turn the page to see what could be on the other side, even if only from a utilitarian viewpoint. (How was the Soviet guards family affected? Did his wife divorce him for his infidelity? Did his children go hungry as a result? We are never told, and Fletcher seems not to care.) He also fails to consider the inner, spiritual consequences of an act. For instance, he never asks whether, in the case of the Pilgrim party, the mother of the child suffered irreparable emotional harm as a result of the Negro womans action, nor does he consider the consciences of the Negro woman and the other members of the party who had to live with the knowledge that an infant had been sacrificed for their safety. Fletchers real problem is that he does not distinguish between an act itself and its intended consequences. Paul Ramsey says of this that many human actions ... may be properly redescribed as, or elided into a description of, the doing of the intended consequences. Instead of flicking on a switch, we can say turning on the lights.... There are some human actions,

however, whose description cannot be elided into or re-described as the doing of the intended consequence.... A Nero cannot properly say that in his action of burning Rome he was illuminating the imperial palace, even though this was what he did by means of that action.... The gassing of a number of babies of Jewish women in medical research is properly called genocide, not promoting the advancement of science for the future health of mankind.Throughout his book, Fletcher persists in re-describing an act as its intended consequence. Hence he does not call the act of sexual intercourse between the German woman and the Soviet guard adultery but the reuniting of a family he does not call the killing of an infant murder but the saving of a Pilgrim party. If one takes Fletchers position seriously, he may just as well call genocide (to use Ramsays analogy) the promoting of science for the future health of mankind. It is by means of this re-description of acts as intended consequences that Fletcher seeks to justify his system. But on the point of justification itself we find a grossly disparate view in Fletchers ethics from what Scripture presents on the matter. In Fletchers system an act that to a Christian is at best highly suspect may not only be the better choice but can be, in fact, a justifiable and good act. Hence, when he draws illustrations about murder, adultery, and lying he does not call these acts merely the better choice than their alternatives but says they are in themselves good. Wrong not only becomes excusable but sometimes becomes right. As Fletcher says, ...situation ethics has good reason to hold it as a duty in some situations to break [the commandments], any and all of them (Fletchers emphasis). He maintains that this is possible because we ought to be concerned with doing right rather than seeking the good. Somehow he fails to realize that doing right is seeking the good. It is with his contention that wrong can sometimes become right that we as Christians must disagree most strongly. While we may not be able to say that under no circumstances would we ever tell a lie, for instance, we should be able to say that at no time would a lie ever be selfjustifying or an example of good Christian behavior. There is a world of difference between these two positions. When the Christian lies he knows he has done that which is contrary to his code of ethics, and he seeks forgiveness for it. When a situationist lies it is, in many cases, fully in accord with his code of ethics and is acceptable and right. In the former case the lie is forgivable; in the latter is was never wrong to begin with. Hence, in situationism the work of the Cross is diminished, since there is rarely a need for an individual to approach it for forgiveness. The true Christians justification lies in the Cross alone. The belief that certain actions that are normally wrong can become, under abnormal circumstances, somehow justifiable in themselves or in the ends thereof is perhaps how situation ethics has most impacted many Christians today, for there are many who adamantly reject the system yet still believe that there are certain situations in which our ethics can change and normally immoral actions can become moral. This is tantamount to endorsing relativism in Christian ethics. What we should realize is that though there can be circumstances in which all our choices appear to be wrong, when we choose a wrong and act upon it, it remains wrong even though the end result may be perceived to be good. More will be said about this in Part Four of our work.

There are many other profound differences between Christian ethics and situation ethics besides the understanding of justification. Perhaps the most fundamental difference surrounds the nature of God. The Christian believes in an infinite, personal God who possesses characteristics of holiness and love, a God who is an objective reality. Joseph Fletchers view of God is that God is love in an almost pantheistic sense. He states that Gods existence and belief that Christ is God in man cannot be proved. Fletcher was, as much as he may have rejected the term, a Christian existentialist, one who accepts matters of religious truth on the basis of blind, irrational faith assumptions leaps of faith that, in his own words, are not steps in logic or even in common sense. Fletchers book claims to believe in God as a personal being, but he uses the word personal in quotation marks. It is clear both from his apparent reservation about the word and from other statements about God that he had no real concept of who or what God truly is. Even if he could somehow see God as a personal being, he would perceive Him as a being without understanding, compassion, or mercy, based on his gross misconstruction of legalism. But truly, to Fletcher himself God was nothing more than a mere postulate. Love (as he defines it) was Fletchers only god. His view of Christ was even less noble. Situation Ethics admits that a person need not accept Christ to be a partaker of the true love of God, since God gives love (equated to God Himself) to all men in the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is love (if it actually exists). ...[T]he basic challenge offered by the situationist has nothing to do in any special way with theological over against non-theological faith commitments.... (This is not to say, however, that ones faith is without an important bearing upon the situations action and decision-making.) How he arrives at the latter statement we can only guess, for elsewhere he endorses William Temples belief that an atheist who lives by love is saved by his faith in the God whose existence (under that name) he denies. So, according to Fletcher, wherever love is present salvation is present, whether Christ is there or not. There is therefore no need for Christ in his system, and Jesus is reduced to a mere man whos most immediate bearing ... is that of paradigm, model, and example ... thats it. But even as a model Jesus is found wanting, for in his discussion of Mark 14:3-9 Fletcher says, If we take the story as it stands, Jesus was wrong and the disciples were right. He maintains that Jesus taught no systematic ethic because, in Fletchers own words, Jesus was a simple Jewish peasant. He had no more philosophical sophistication than a guinea pig. As a result of his subordinate view of the Holy Trinity, Fletchers view of man is also far from that which is spoken of in Psalm 8:4,5. Though his system presupposes that man is by nature good, Fletcher states that Christs coming was not primarily to make us good but to give us faith in the goodness of God. He does not see man as a creature that has fallen from heroic proportions and who is now being reconciled to his rightful place before God, for he rejects the Fall and seemingly pokes ridicule at those who believe in it. People who think there was literally once a Fall (they abound in church circles) would say that law is needed now to control us... To Fletcher, man exists in a closed system and is valuable only as a utilitarian object to keep the whole absurd machine of humanity running as smoothly as possible. There is no transcendent meaning or value to man, and he has no existence beyond what he knows in the present life. Situation ethics recognizes no revelational content to Scripture (except the one command to love), and it rejects all revealed truth. It views the Bible as a social document drawn up by

men who clouded over the ethical directive to love with a vast number of legalistic doctrines that were never part of Jesus teachings. If one accepts the idea that Scripture offers rules to govern our conduct, then (in Fletchers view) either cheap melancholy or utter frustration will follow ... [the Bible is] an editorial collection of scattered sayings, such as the Sermon on the Mount, [that] offers us at most some paradigms or suggestions. As a result of such a view, we observe that wherever the Bible contradicted Fletcher, Fletcher merely dismissed the Bible. It should be abundantly evident, then, even on the basis of this short examination of Joseph Fletchers new morality, that situation ethics is far from being a Christian ethic, either in method or content. Fletchers system may at best be called only a utilitarianism with a kind of Jesus flavoring to it. We all would do well to guard against its influence, both within our churches and in our individual lives. Its pervasiveness alone has done more to promote its heretical tenets among true believers than any amount of personal teaching could ever have accomplished. Because it has become so engrained in our society, it has assumed the nature of a fog, creeping quietly and softly into our ethical framework. Just as a fog can steal into a room through a window opened only a fraction of an inch, so can situationism invade our thinking stealthily and little by little through books, lecture halls, television, and motion pictures. We ought to be on guard all the more against the influence of situationism and seek to fill ourselves with the truth of what is so that we may better stand against all errors of man. The light of Gods word can penetrate the fog of situationism and expose it for what it really is.

Putting It All Together: Ethical Decision-Making for the Christian


As stated in the preface of this book, there is a higher purpose for our study than simply the academic analysis of our belief system of Christian morality. Our examination of Christian ethics has as its primary purpose the strengthening of our knowledge of the basis for ethical decisionmaking, which it is hoped will enable the Christian to make moral decisions consistent with the revealed Word of God. Without practical application, our beliefs remain sterile and impotent, regardless how true they may be. It is the purpose of this book as a whole, and this section in particular, to help guide the reader into the proper framework from which to work in making moral choices in everyday life. In this section we shall be addressing ourselves to a kind of summary of the truths we have previously discussed and will then consider how to put these truths into practice. The author will attempt to describe the procedure he uses in applying these truths to the decision-making process and will discuss the reasons why he draws the given conclusions. Following this, he will then offer a brief look at several of the frequently asked questions Christians generally propose in

discussions on ethics, along with the authors treatment of these questions and a description of the ways in which his answers have been reached. The questions and answers, however, are designed merely to provide examples of one Christians use of the decision-making process and should not be construed as dogmatic responses. The reader is asked to bear that thought in mind as he reads through this section.

Foundation and Motives When the Christian finds himself faced with the necessity of making an ethical decision in any particular matter, regardless how difficult that decision may be, he enjoys a distinct advantage over the person who operates under a different system of ethics. This is because the Christian knows his ethical system does not consist simply of a list of arbitrary dos and donts, nor is it founded upon a number of relative and therefore meaningless values that provide no real help in guiding our decisions. Rather, the Christians ethical system rests securely on absolute and transcendent values that grow out of the person and character of God Himself. Since the Christian believes in an infinite and personal God who is a lover of righteousness, he stands aware of the fact that there are ethical and behavioral values that go beyond man and beyond the moment there are values that are true for all men and for all time, values that prove certain behaviors to be good and beautiful in and of themselves, irrespective of the culture or situation in which they may be met. These values and truths are founded upon the character of God and have been communicated to man through the Law and the Prophets and, finally, through His own Son, the Law made flesh. But although God has spoken to man and given him truth, the Christian realizes that God has not spoken exhaustively He has not given man conrete rules to govern every aspect of his life and work. Rather, He has more often taught us principles by which we are to be guided in making our free-will choices in matters about which He has otherwise remained silent. Instead of creating us as mechanical automata, He created us in His image, which includes bestowing upon man the ability to think and reason. God intends for man to use this gift, bestowed on no other creature on earth, to respond to Him in loving appreciation for His atoning work through His Son on the Cross. He expects us therefore to reach most of our ethical decisions on our own out of loving concern for His divine will. We see then that God has not left man directionless. He has given man truth concerning righteousness through His revealed Word and has given man the perfect example of righteousness in Christ Jesus. He has further given man a religion that is rational and that rests on revealed truth truth that has been revealed both through the natural world and also through the supernatural via the prophets, His Son, and the Holy Saints and Apostles. And He has also given man a pure motive for following after righteousness: love. Love is indeed the Christians perfect motive. But what some fail to realize is that our motive does not rest so much on our love for Christ as it does on Christs love for us. It is His greater love that constrains us and urges us on to strive for righteousness in our ethical lives. His love is the starting place, for it was His love that led Him to the Cross on our behalf even while

we were in rebellion against Him. So great a love elicits a response from its recipients. That response is essential, but it is not primary; Gods love for us is primary. We are called simply to respond to that love and offer our lives as a thank offering for what He has done for us on Calvary. In addition to love, however, the Christian also enjoys the motivation of reward. But this too is closely linked with love, both Gods love for us and ours for Him. The reward motive is often viewed by non-Christians in purely eschatological terms, as though the righteous shall receive special gifts or blessings in some far-off time and place. There is, of course, the eschatological side of reward that awaits the Christian beyond the Judgment, but there also is a present and continuing reward that is immediate. And that is our reestablishment into a right relationship with God the Father through Christ His Son. In this we seek to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To some Christians, especially those who are very sensitive to the importance of the love motive, the idea of reward as a motive for righteous behavior seems repulsive and denigrating. But this attitude comes from an improper understanding of Christian reward. If we were speaking of reward in terms of a mercenary contract, that would be a repugnant motive for following the beautiful and holy directives of God. But if we allow ourselves to forget all concepts of reward, we let go of our value of life itself. C.S. Lewis deals with the concept of reward in his essay, The Weight of Glory.(1) He points out that there is a difference between a reward that is a mere bribe and one that is intrinsic. A bribe is a reward that bears no intrinsic relationship to the thing done in order to obtain it. For instance, a man may promise someone $1,000 if he will climb to the top of the Empire State Building without using the elevators. In this case there is no direct relationship between climbing to the top of the building and receiving $1,000. A person could climb to the top and not receive any monetary reward whatever he shouldnt expect to unless someone had made him that offer. But the reward the Christian seeks is an intrinsic reward; it is that which results naturally from his having walked in righteousness before God. An example that illustrates an intrinsic reward in corporeal terms might be that of a man who wishes to improve his physical condition. Toward that end he engages in a series of exercises. The reward he seeks improved physical conditioning cannot be separated from the action he performs; it is intrinsic to the activity. They are inseparable because one naturally results from the other. Such is the Christians hope of reward. It is worth noting that Christ never used the concept of rewards to win people over. Rather, He would remind those who came to Him that He had no place to lay His head and that they should count the cost before becoming His disciples. In spite of this, huge crowds still followed Him. The reward they sought was an intrinsic reward not a bribe and it is the same reward Christians today must seek: not the crowning of goodness with some sort of heavenly prize, but the privilege of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.

The Logical Process

When the Christian realizes that his religious beliefs are rational, and when he realizes that God expects our service to be in the whole person (which includes the mind), then he may properly understand that we are to approach our ethical decision-making in a rational manner. But while we use a rational approach, we do not attempt to rationalize our behavior at least not in the common understanding of that word. To most people, rationalization implies inventing plausible explanations for acts that, in truth, are improper or misguided. In this sense the Christian never rationalizes his behavior. Instead he uses reason (rationality) as a means of understanding Gods will so that he may apply it to his life and behavior. He does not act on reason alone, of course, but he does use reason to read, interpret, understand, and apply divinely given directives. Had God expected less, He would not have communictated to man in rational terms. Neither do we mean to imply that once the directives are received man is left entirely on his own to interpret and apply them. We are promised help through the Holy Spirit, through the Spirit-indwelt Church, and through prayer. Though we may not expect the kind of help many people anticipate a kind of mystical endowment of supernatural wisdom or intuition, or a direct and miraculous communication from God Himself we nevertheless understand that God will help guide us in our decisions. So when a Christian approaches a given question, he approaches it in his whole person not with the heart alone, nor with the intellect alone, but with both intelligently and prayerfully. Once the Christian understands these basic principles, how is he to operate the decisionmaking process? To answer in a single word, we might say logically. By this we mean that he follows a logical and systematic approach to his decision, beginning with the truths he knows. But perhaps we might better illustrate this by explaining the four essential steps necessary in most ethical decisions. 1. We must first ask whether God has spoken specifically to the question. For some of our decisions this is the only step necessary in arriving at our answer. If Scripture or Canon Law offers us a specific rule that deals directly with the topic in question, then the Christian accepts that as an absolute that is unaffected by culture, time, or situation. Generally God has provided concrete ethical rules when we are dealing with what might be called essential or fundamental ethical questions, such as murder, adultery, or stealing. On these points Scripture speaks specifically and dogmatically, and we as Christians must accept these pronouncements unequivocally. We see them as rules that cannot be broken under any circumstances without transgressing the law and incurring the guilt of sin. But having stated that biblical rules are not altered by culture, time, or situation, we must nevertheless recognize that there are certain biblical rules that were given in reference to a specific time or condition. The Levirite law that commanded a Jewish man to become a father by his brothers widow, for example, would be an example of these types of culturally conditioned rules. In this case the Israelite law has been superceded by New Testament directives it is no longer applicable to mankind today. In cases such as this we must realize that certain rules were

culturally conditioned. Proper study of Scripture and of the Church Fathers should inform us when these cases apply. When we turn to Scripture to find answers we also must bear in mind that even when it speaks very specifically about a question, it may address the question both in terms of absolutes and relatives. It is important that we understand these two terms and apply them correctly, both in formulating our own decisions and in analyzing others. As an example, we might consider the question of Christian dress. On this question Scripture speaks quite specifically and directly, for we read in I Timothy 2:9 that women should adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing. Here the question of how a woman should dress is answered with the absolute affirmation that she is to adorn herself with modesty. But the application of that rule is relative. What we mean is this: All Christian women (and men too, for that matter) are obliged to dress modestly. But modesty is a relative quality, for what may be modest in one culture at one time may be immodest in another culture or another time. A woman wearing a typical business suit popular in America in 2012 could very well epitomize the height of modesty in her culture at the present time. Transporting that woman to Elizabethan England would find her being labeled as licentious, for at that time even prostitutes did not casually expose their calves in public. So while the Christian is directed to dress modestly, we are left to determine what constitutes modest dress for our given situation. Modesty, then, is relative. But behind that relative there rests a very certain absolute that the relative is designed to uphold: chastity. Modestys purpose is to preserve chastity. Now chastity is not something that varies with different cultures or times. Whenever or wherever one exists, one is either chaste or unchaste. Modest apparel therefore is that which would promote chastity, whenever or wherever one is found. In St. Pauls time a woman who braided her hair or adorned herself with gold, pearls, or other costly accoutrements would give the appearance of worldliness and moral laxity, so these things obviously were to be avoided by a woman who wished to appear chaste. In our culture today such adornments do not necessarily carry the same implications (except when taken to noticeable extremes) and therefore are not of themselves improper apparel. A similar example may be seen in I Corinthians 11:1-6 where St. Paul instructs the Corinthian women to keep their heads covered in public. In Corinth at that time it was the mark of a harolt for a woman to go about with her head uncovered. In light of that, Christian decency demanded that Christian women should cover their heads. But, as Henry points out, to use this passage of Scripture to make long hair mandatory for all women of all times is to miss the point. To insist on decorum and modesty at all times is to rightly apply the passage.(2) It is therefore essential that we distinguish between absolutes and relatives, even when Scripture speaks very specifically about a given question. Failure to do so could well lead to our making rules where God has given none or, at the opposite extreme, accepting as relative what God plainly intended to be absolute.

2. If God has not spoken specifically to the question, what principles has He provided that relate to the question? On many points about which we have questions, God has not addressed the issues specifically. As already mentioned, if we wish an answer to questions about abortion, genetic manipulation, or the use of mind-altering drugs, we cannot simply go to a Bible concordance and find passages that talk about these things. We must instead consult the Church Fathers and Canon Law. But sometimes even these may not address our question directly. In such cases we must then look for underlying principles that will help us determine whether these things are right or wrong in light of Gods directives. This requires, first of all, identifying the issues involved. For example, Rudnick points out that beneath the question Should I or should I not have an abortion? are additional, highly significant questions of a more general nature: Does a fetus have a right to life? Is a fetus a human being? Does a woman have a right to control her own reproductive processes? Should an unwanted child be born?(3) Rudnick goes on to say that such a process requires an intellectual exercise that presupposes some aptitude and training. That is why such questions are difficult for a person not accustomed to employing the intellect in such matters. Perhaps it would have been much easier for us if God had simply given us endless rule books to govern every conceivable circumstance the Christian might face. But had He done so there would be no place for love or the redeeming work of Christ, for justification would be possible through a strict adherence to the letter of law. Such a system of ethics could be followed without reason and could be obeyed without love. No motive except the fear of punishment would be of any relevance. Nothing could be further from what God desires of us. We should never complain that God has left us with unanswered questions, for With freedom did Christ set us free (Galatians 5:1, ERV). God desires of us a heart that seeks after righteousness out of love and in resposne to His love for us (cf. Zephaniah 2:3 and Amos 5:14,15). He therefore gives us directives, but not always rules. He wants us to use our freedom, but not as an excuse for sin; we are to use it in the pursuit of righteousness. When we approach the truly difficult questions in life, we may find guidelines but not always concrete rules that will help us form our decisions. But in searching for these directives we must exercise great care and not simply assume that the first biblical passage we read will, of itself, provide us with all we need to know. Canon Law forbids abortion, but did the Fathers simply turn to a passage of Scripture to find it forbidden? They could not, because the word abortion is not found in the Bible. Rather, they had first to determine Gods view of nascent life, and even this is not clearly stated in any single passage. For example, turning to Exodus 21:22-25 alone could imply either a high or low view of nascent life. (This is especially true if one reads from a translation.) Even Hebrew scholars have debated whether this passage is dealing with a situation in which a woman was caused to miscarry so that she loses the fetal life yet no additional harm follows, or whether it is a situation in which she is caused to give birth prematurely and yet no harm follows to either mother or child. Because the implications of this passage are subject to question, one could not base a decision on this example alone.

But we are fortunate in that, as Sir Frederic Kenyon has pointed out, No doctrine of Christianity rests solely upon disputed text.(4) In every case where a vital passage of Scripture is subject to question, we can find additional passages that are not open to dispute and which will help in determining the proper meaning of the problem text. In the case just cited, we are able to find several passages besides Exodus 21 which address themselves to the status of the unborn fetus.(5) In all these other passages we find a high view of nascent life, and therefore the Fathers were able to know that the fetus possesses value from the moment of conception and that it is to be regarded as significantly more than a mere mass of tissue. All the steps in our decision-making process are crucial, but this one in particular is perhaps the most important in that it places so much responsibility upon man himself to properly research, understand, and comprehend scriptural directives and to apply them to our lives. There are no shortcuts available. We cannot expect some sort of miraculous revelation beyond what God has already revealed. Neither can we simply refuse to meet the issue, because even in refusing to address ourselves to a given question we are taking a stand and a non-biblical one at that. No, because we want to please God because He has first loved us, we endeavor to learn His will so that we may better conform to His likeness. Our obedience involves much more than the acceptance of a simple faith-assumption, and it requires far more of us than a mere verbal confession of our belief in Him. If we are in Him it is because of His wonderful grace, and that grace deserves a proper response: that of conforming our lives all of our lives to His will. 3. Once we learn the principles relating to the question, we make a decision that is consistent both with our basic doctrine and with those principles. Our basic doctrine is that everything we do is to be done to glorify God. If our decision is in harmony with this basic precept, and if it is in harmony with the principles we have learned which relate to the question, then we may conclude that our decision reflects the will of God in the matter. This is not to say that our decision is therefore infallible or that it represents the whole will of God on the subject, but it is consistent with His teachings and reflects His will perhaps not perfectly, but nonetheless realistically. We must, however, always recognize that we as humans are subject to errors of judgment, sometimes because we allow our subjective feelings to influence our decision and sometimes because we fail to exegete Scripture as carefully or as fully as we should. It is therefore important that we make our ethical decision-making an ongoing process, constantly weighing our decisions and comparing them with what we know of the will of God as we mature in Him. Henry has pointed out that The Christian who is maturing in his relationship with God finds that he constantly sees the world with new eyes.(6) Similarly, J.B. Lightfoot observed that the new birth was a reconciliation in Gods image; the subsequent life must be a deepening of that image thus stamped on man.(7) Often the young Christian in particular is prone to make his decisions prematurely and without having thought through his choices adequately. He is to be commended for endeavoring to reach his own conclusions, but he needs also to be directed into ascertaining whether his decisions are, as he perceives them to be, in harmony with Gods revealed directives. As we mature we frequently learn that decisions we made when we were young were wrong or were not as concise as they should be, or perhaps that they were more legalistic than God intended. This is where Gods mercy plays an integral role in our spiritual lives, for He realizes that as we mature

we grow into a fuller understanding of His true will for man, and that implies the constant updating and rearranging of our priorities and ethical decisions. This is also why we may say that, at least in some areas, God is less concerned with the decision we make than He is with our motivation for making them. This is not to imply that He will be pleased with gross errors of judgment, but that He will be more pleased with our making a choice that, though immature, is made out of loving concern for His will and with a genuine desire to please Him. About this Henry has written:
the Christian life is a growth, not an automatic machine; it is a spiritual walk, in which one advances in insight into the claims of revealed ethics, a walk in which conscience, still fallible even in the lives of the regenerate, is progressively conformed to what is good and right. It is one of the featurs of Christian growth that the devout spirit recognizes some thoughts and deeds to be wrong today that passed as acceptable but yesterday an experience repeated often through the tomorrows of life. It is not that the standard has changed, but that the true and the good are more fully perceived, and devotion to them is enlarged. In the Christian life, grace and conduct are everywhere correlated. When the believer is aware of his failure before the moral standard, he is not doomed by the Law, since he knows salvation by grace. In the midst of his shortcomings he looks to the shed blood of Calvary and is thankful. He knows how to make the Law minister to the Gospel. The regenerate heart does not gain acceptance with God by good works, but rather expresses gratitude to God for the forgiveness of sins by doing them.(8)

We again should reiterate that this step in our decision-making process is to be made both intellectually and prayerfully. We ought not to trust exclusively in our own resources (for that will lead to pride), but ought to call upon God for guidance that He may know we are seeking to please Him and that He may help us decide to the best of our abilities. We may then trust that His grace will be sufficient to cover any shortcomings our decision may entail, provided that we continue to endeavor to search out the riches of His wisdom and grow therein. 4. We act upon the decision formulated. Having reached our decision, we then are to act upon it. This means ordering our lives in such a manner that our behavior becomes consistent with our decision, which in turn must be consistent with our basic doctrine and the Christian world-view. It is not enough for the Christian simply to know the truth, but he must endeavor to live the truth. It is only when ones moral principles are put into action that they properly become ethical. One thing is very important to remember at this point, however, and that is that we may often note that others who share our same set of beliefs will sometimes act in ways very different from how we have decided to act. When we see such disparity of behavior, we should bear in mind that there are three possible explanations for this: a) Either we or our brother is wrong in the decision we have made. One or the other (or perhaps both) has reached an erroneous conclusion concerning the point in question. In such a case we both ought to reexamine the evidence, preferably together, that we may better discern the correct answer. This requires openness, understanding, love, and the willingness to admit mistakes. b) Our brother may be living inconsistently with his principles. Sometimes it is the case that a person knows how he ought to act but chooses of his own free will to behave differently from what he knows to be right. All Christians do this at one time or another, being a part of fallen humanity. We should be understanding and forgiving toward our brother when we observe

this trait commonly called hypocrisy when practiced habitually realizing that we too need forgiveness for the same weakness on occasion. Beyond that, we also also have an obligation to exhort our brother to live more consistently with his beliefs and encourage him in his Christian walk. In cases of persistent rebellion, however, the Church sometimes must resort to discipline to help the wayward brother. c) Both we and our brother may be right. In many areas we find that there can be more than one way of doing things and more than one answer to a given ethical question. These are evident when we are dealing in the area of relatives. As in the example given earlier regarding modest apparel, one Christians concept of modesty may be somewhat more or less stringent than anothers, perhaps dues to his ethnic or geographical background. This does not mean that the person with a more strict code of dress should violate his conscience in order to conform to a less restrictive code, nor does it mean that he should impose his more rigid code upon others. We all should recognize that there is some flexibility here, as there is in many other areas, and we ought to give liberty where liberty is due. As St. Paul said in Romans 14:2-4, For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge anothers servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. The important thing when dealing with relatives is that we each seek to do that which will please our Master. We do not try to see how far from the standard we may deviate before we cross the line into what we know to be wrong, but instead we exercise common sense and loving concern for the standards God expects His children to uphold. If we do that, St. Paul says, God will make us stand and will not cause us to fall on that account. Many difficulties have been caused among Christians because of the failure to understand the concept of relatives in a number of areas of moral behavior. Perhaps this lack of understanding is an overreaction to the teachings of such men as Joseph Fletcher who taught that everything is relative. In an effort to combat situationisms influence, some have attempted to set up absolutes in all areas of life, even to the point of decreeing what constitutes modest apparel. This writer well remembers a time during the 1960s when Christians all over America were debating just how long a boy may wear his hear or how high a girls hemline was permitted to be, endeavoring to establish a concrete Christian rule in terms of inches! Christians ought rather to recognize the difference between absolutes and relatives and give liberty where relatives are concerned. A Christian should not judge his brother in such areas unless the brothers actions are clearly and unequivocally contrary to scriptural directives. We might question him or wish to discuss the matter with him, but we ought not to judge him censoriously, for Jesus said with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:2). We are not speaking here of the moral discernment of right and wrong where rules are concerned or of the exercise of our critical faculties by which we are to make value-judgments, but about what many people simply call nit-picking fault-finding in which one person goes about deliberately looking for things to criticize in others or which result in our applying our own arbitrary moral standards on another. This type of behavior, as McGarvey puts it, is judging from surmise, or from insufficient premises, or from ill-will.(9)

In many areas of life the Christian is free to set his own standards, provided they remain in harmony with underlying absolutes and provided that he sets them with the correct attitude toward his relationship with God and his fellow man. His decision may be more liberal (using that term in the sense of possessing freedom) than anothers, but he nevertheless may be correct in his decision as may also the more conservative brother. We ought not therefore judge one another or impose on others our own standards which we were free to adopt according to conscience. But the Christian must also guard against the other extreme in this as well. While it is true that we are to give liberty in matters of relatives, we are to remain unmovable in areas where absolutes are clearly given. We are to be free, says St. Paul, but are not to use our freedom as an occasion to sin (Galatians 5:13, I Corinthiasn 6:12b). On matters where God-given rules have been spoken (such as stealing or committing adultery), we can give no liberty. Any brother who transgresses an absolute must either reform his life or be delivered again to the world which does not recognize norms.

Questions with Answers We previously have stated that if we begin with the proposition that God does not exist then we are left with no absolutes to govern our decisions and are therefore left only with questions without answers. In Christian ethics we still have questions, but we have a significant advantage over the secularist because in our system answers are possible. They are possible because we acknowldge the God who is there and who has a divine will that He has communicated to man. Through this communication we may find divinely given directives that will guide us in finding our answers. [Test test test] In the last few pages of this book we would like to address ourselves to a few commonly asked questions that often come up among Christians engaged in ethical discussion. Our purpose in presenting these questions is simply to illustrate the process that the serious Christian might employ in working out his answers to these questions. They are not presented for the purpose of simply promoting the authors view on select points, but are merely illustrative. They are not to be taken with dogmatic intent. Indeed, it is acknowldged that dedicated Christians may disagree on some of these points, and this is all the more reason why we ought each to strive to understand the will of God more perfectly and to the best of our abilities. Where we disagree, our duty to God and to one another is to approach the issues intellectually, prayerfully, and with loving concern for one another, discussing our views openly yet compassionately. The author realizes that he, being human, is subject to errors of judgment just as we all are and, if shown to be wrong, is willing to conform his beliefs to a fuller understanding of Gods will. Every other Christian has the same obligation to recognize that he is not beyond correction and should weigh all sides of a question carefully before rendering his individual conclusions to the glory of God. It oft has been stated that there is no shame in admitting that one is wrong; there is shame in refusing to change once weve been shown to be wrong. It is the earnest hope of this author that each Christian may hold strongly to the beliefs and conclusions he has reached, but that he will with that resolve retain also the integrity to examine his positions continually in light of his

understanding of Gods will as he matures in his walk. If the proper attitude toward God, ones ethics, and ones fellow man is maintained, growth is ensured through the fellowship of Jesus Christ our Lord, both for the individual Christian and for the overall community of believers as a whole.

1. Who am I? 2. What is my purpose in life? 3. What is Christian ethics? These three questions are posed together because they represent essential questions that every Christian must answer. No other ethical question can be addressed before these are met, for our understanding of who we are, what our purpose is, and what our ethics is all about will determine our response to all other questions pertaining to life and morals. If the Christian is unsure of his answers to these three questions, it is time for him to sit down and reexamine his beliefs. Although there may be different ways of stating our answers to these questions, every Christian should share the same essential understanding. The Christian sees himself as a being that has been created in the image of the infinite, personal God and who has been endowed with certain divine characteristics. He, like God, is a personal being, and like God he is rational, thinking, intelligent, and capable of verbal communication. He is a being that has a moral consciousness and a will that is free to act upon that consciousness. He is different from God in his finiteness (which means that though he has the ability to know he cannot be all-knowing), but he sees himself as a being who has been crowned with glory and honor and is but a little less than God. But he also recognizes that he was not created to be, nor is he capable of being, his own master. He, so highly formed, is a fallen creature and remains in rebellion against God to this day. Having lost his rightful standing before God through the fall, he has become a sinful creature yet with heavenly potential. He understands that God gave His only Son to die in order that he may again stand in proper relationship with the Father of light. Therefore the Christian sees himself in three ways: (1) as a being nobly created and crowned with glory and honor; (2) as a being that has fallen from these heroic proportions to the level of sinful rebellion spawned by false human pride; and (3) as a being that has been restored to his rightful relationship with God, not through his own works, but through the grace of God in the antoning work of Christ Jesus. In viewing himself thusly, he sees himself as a responsible being who, out of a debt of love, seeks to express his gratitude for being restored to fellowship with God. He understands that he was created with a divine purpose and is not here by accident or chance, and he perceives his purpose as glorifying God all his days. That, says the Preacher, is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13). He further understands that he glorifies God when he lives according to His precepts and directives, thereby reflecting the beauty of God in his life by reflecting Gods own character. His demonstration of God is imprefect but is nontheless real.

In possessing this view, the Christian also sees what his relationship to his fellow man ought to be. In having a high view of man (as opposed to the modernists view of man as nothing more than an accidental collection of molecules) he treats man and interacts with him respectfully. Most of his moral choices are determined when he chooses his view of man, and the Christian sees man as valuable. In both these areas all Christians should agree. If we view who man is and what his purpose in life is otherwise, then our entire ethical system will be altered. Christian ethics, in summary, is the carrying into life the whole world-view and life-view of God; Christian ethics is behavior that is theocentric and governed by the will of God. Once we agree on these points then our discussion of various other questions relating to ethics may be intelligently and prayerfully pursued. Without this common ground, our discussion cannot proceed logically because the presuppositions are disparate. In order to answer any other question we must first go back to the beginning and establish some common ground from which to proceed.

4. At what point does faith-based ethics leave off and freedom of human choice begin? As we approach this question we might first pose another: Is it possible for there to be a situation in which a person cannot rely on biblical directives to formulate a response? As we have noted, it is true that God has not always provided us with rules to govern every aspect of our lives; but He has provided us with principles. On the basis of these principles we are to determine what our correct response should be in any given circumstance. Whatever our question, we approach it with a biblical framework. Regarding human choice, we should of course understand that in one sense human choice is present in every situation: man may choose his own course as a matter of free will, whether that course be right or wrong. But in the sense in which the question is posed, there is no point at which we are given over to rely solely on ourselves for answers. We have not been left directionless in any area of life. We often may have to choose our own answer to various questions, but we do so in light of God-given directives. Human choice for the Christian means a choice based upon the norms of scripture and which conforms to the will of God. Life lived under God is free.

5. Does ethics differ in the Old and New Testaments? A common misunderstanding of many people is that God has given different systems of ethics through the ages and that His ethical directives under the Old Law were different from those of the New. If one examines scriptural evidence carefully, however, he will find that this is not the case.

We have spoken elsewhere of Gods immutability and constancy, so we will not reiterate that point here beyond calling to mind the fact that God is without change or variation (James 1:17). Yet it is evident that we can see differences in His dealings with man in ancient times and in the present day. Our question must be whether this is a result of Gods having changed, or whether it is a consequence of mans changing relationship to Him. Scriptural evidence points to the latter. Man, both individually and collectively, undergoes change, and his relationship with God likewise changes though God Himself remains the same. John Haley draws an illustration to demonstrate how this is so. He asks us to imagine a rock situated in the ground and around which there is a large circle. A man comes along and walks round the rock, following the circle. As he goes around the rock his relationship to that rock changes, but the rock itself remains unchanged. It is, Haley concludes, much like what Whately has written: A change effected in one of two objects having a certain relation to each other, may have the same practical result as if it had taken place in the other.(10) So what appear to be changes in Gods ethical standard are in fact only changes in man himself in relation to it. It might help us to think of the relationship of God to man as that between a father and his children. A parent lives by certain moral, ethical, and behavioral standards, and he expects his children to exhibit those same standards in their lives. But as we watch children advance from infancy through childhood, adolescence, and adulthood, we see that different patterns of behavior are tolerated by the parent at different levels of maturity. What was allowable in the behavior of a four-year-old child would be intolerable in a seventeen-year-old. The parents behavioral standards have not changed, but the child&#s relationship to those standards have. It has been much the same with Gods relationship to mankind. When man fell it was a monumental fall. Man fell from a beautiful relationship into the depravity of sin, rebelliousness, and false pride. The early history of man given in Genesis shows the degree to which man degenerated into a moral infancy. God gradually led man back to adulthood, first through the childhood of the Patriarchal age, then through the formative years of the Law which served as his schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24), and finally to his adulthood in the freedom that Christ brought. Thus, though the ethical and moral standards have remained unchanged since before the foundation of the world, Gods tolerance of mans adherence to those standards has changed as man himself has changed. This is no hypothetical analogy. Scripture often speaks of Gods relationship to man in such terms. In one of the most beautiful passages of the Old Testament God speaks of the nation Israel as a child He has taught to walk and has fed and cared for. Paraphrasing from Hosea 11:14 we hear God say, When Israel was a child I loved him and called him out of Egypt. But as I called him he went from me and sacrificed to Baal and burned incense to images. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim how to walk. It was I who took him in my arms but he did not know it was I who healed him. I drew him with cords of a man and with bands of love. I took away his yoke and laid meat before him. What more touching picture could be painted of a parent lamenting over a beloved child who has rebelled against him? God has called us in this age to a higher demonstration of His most perfect will. We ought therefore to learn from the past and see how God has brought mankind thus far. The laws of

rituals and ceremonies have been done away, but the ethical law of God has only been more clearly revealed. We have been granted to see it more perfectly than those who lived under the Old Law.

6. Is sex outside of marriage wrong under any and all circumstances, even if it is done in order to help someone? This question begins to get at the root of what our ethics is all about: life. The first five points we have discussed, though they determine our ultimate choices, are in a sense academic. With this question we begin to look at specific actions and attempt to learn what our course of action ought to be in various areas and circumstances. As we approach this question we should begin with the first step in our decision-making process. Thus we ask, Has God spoken specifically to this question? In this case we learn from Scripture that He has indeed spoken to the question of sexual relations outside of marriage. Nearly everyone is familiar with the biblical absolute instituted in the Seventh Commandment that expresses Gods will for sexual constancy. This command is reiterated with force throughout the Word of God and is of serious enough consequence that under the Old Law its violation carried the death penalty. Under the New Law of Christ the command for sexual fidelity within marriage remains unchanged, though it is magnified. In Matthew 5:28 Jesus taught that not only is the act of adultery contrary to Gods will, but the intent to commit adultery is also forbidden. There are a number of passages in the New Testament alone that provide us with the absolute rule that sexual infidelity is prohibited. I Corinthians 5:1-13; 10:8; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5,6; Hebrews 13:4 are but a few of these. The standard is clear: One must either engage in sex with ones spouse or with no one at all. Some have been confused on this point by Christs dealing with the woman caught in adultery as recorded in John 8, and they have been led to believe (or simply have chosen to believe) that Christ approved of the womans actions. This is certainly not the case. For one thing, had Christ approved of the womans adulterty He would have been contradicting His own teachings on the matter. The real point of His message was this: The woman was guilty of adultery and was condemned to death under the Law. Jesus never once said she was not deserving death. In fact, He passed sentence on her by telling the others to stone her. The only problem was that none of her accusers met the criteria to be her executioner because, as they realized when Jesus said that the one without sin should cast the first stone, they were all guilty under the law. And that was Jesus purpose, to show these self-righteous legalists who were blind to their own faults that they were sinners as well and would all have to die through Christs death before they could be justified. Christ forgave the woman because she would suffer death for her sin in the vicarious death of Christ. Her act was not approved, but forgiven. As for the latter part of the question, whether sex is wrong even if it is done to help someone, we must realize that, according to Scripture, sex outside of marriage is universally

condemned, regardless of circumstance. To imagine a situation in which illicit sex could be performed for someones benefit is contrary to the nature of Gods creation. The only way we might encounter such a situation would be to conclude that sex would be beneficial in a given instance based on a subjective value-judgment of the situation in question. We have no way of knowing how an illicit sexual encounter may work to ones ultimate good. It may give one pleasure and momentary gratification of the sex urge; it may perhaps casue one to feel somehow fulfilled in some secularistic sense. But these are all value-judgments and are subjective in nature. The true consequences of the act could hardly be perceived as transcendently good. Either physical, emotional, and/or spiritual harm would be done because such an act would be a violation of an absolute standard and a violation of mans created nature. In saying this, we should not be understood to imply that because such an act would be wrong it would be unforgivable. Whenever the Christian sins he has recourse to forgiveness when he confesses his sin and turns away from it. Whatever ones sins might be, when his heart has been turned within him and he seeks Gods will, those sins can be forgiven. But, because they are forgivable does not mean they are something less than sin. Occasionally someone may try to counter this argument by brining up some kind of bizarre situation in which a woman is given the choice of having sex with someone or seeing her children killed if she refuses. The argument here is that sex would be justified in this case because it would be done for someone elses good (the good of the children). But there are two things inherently wrong with this line of argument. In the first place we are discussing the kind of situation that, in all probability, will never confront any of us during the entire course of our lives. It is true that circumstances like this do occur on rare occasions (one such occurred in the authors city of residence at the time of writing this book), but should we base our ethics on such remote possibilities, as Joseph Fletcher did in Situation Ethics? Rather than assuming that because in such a bizarre set of circumstance having sex might be deemed a better choice than allowing ones children to be murdered, and then concluding from that line of reasoning that sex outside of marriage is not always wrong, should we not instead begin with the abolute standard that we will not seek sex outside of marriage and allow that rule rather than the incongruous circumstance to govern our daily lives? Would it not be more prudent (and more true of reality) to approach an unusual circumstance with a set of prearranged standards than to approach everyday situations with a standard based on the abnormal circumstance? The second point to be made about this kind of situation is that in such a case the woman is properly being raped and is not performing an act of her own choice. If a person sees a woman having sex with a man who has a gun pointed at her head, the observer would be anything but rational to conclude that she was not being raped. In the situation described the gun is simply being pointed at her childrens heads. The act still constitutes rape. The womans participation would not be by choice in the sense of free will, but would be limited to a choice between two evils proposed by a criminal mind. In whichever course she chooses a sin will be committed (if the criminal makes good his threat), but the sin would not be hers. If she gives in and allows him to rape her she has only sacrificed herself in order to save her children. Her act is not good in the sense of being of transcendent value (as Fletcher would say of it) but is a beau geste. Christ

allowed Himself to be killed for others, but in doing so he was not commiting a sin, though sin was committed. He certainly was not committing suicide, and neither would a woman in such a highly unusual set of circumstance be committing adultery. Therefore, we cannot use such a situation as an example of choosing of our own free will to engage in sex outside the institution of Holy Matrimony.

7. Is it wrong for the Christian to drink alcoholic beverages? With a question such as this we may begin to observe the full use of our decision-making process because, as we shall see, God does not give us an absolute rule regarding the consumption of alcoholic beverages. Nowhere does Scripture say, as it does with adultery, thou shalt not consume alcohol. What we must do, then, is to look for underlying principles or underlying absolutes that relate to this question. In our search we find that there is an absolute closely associated with the subject at hand, and that is the absolute prohibition against drunkenness. Throughout Scripture the people of God were repeatedly warned of the dangers of wines excess. Deuteronomy 21:20,21 says that one of the characteristic of a rebellious and unruly son is drunkenness, and its punishment was death. St. Paul delivered a specific command in Ephesian 5:18 where he said, And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit. Drunkenness is clearly condemned in Scripture and is an absolute, just as the command against adultery is absolute. However, this does not answer the question of whether drinking alcohol in moderation is also wrong. It is wrong to consume it to excess, but we may still ask whether it is wrong in moderation. As we approach this question we have to examine ourselves carefully to determine whether we are approaching it with a preconceive conclusion that has been influenced by our background. Some Christians who have been brought up in homes where alcohol is freely consumed in moderation see no problem with drinking. Others have come from backgrounds that lead them to believe that alcoholic consumption is inherently evil and believe that they should abstain unequivocally. They view it just as sinful to take a spoonful of alcohol as it would be to drink oneself into a drunken stupor. But what we must do if we wish to find an honest and intelligent answer is to discover the directives weve been given. To do otherwise would be to set up our own standards as absolutes without the authority for so doing. We also must be careful to use exegesis in our study (finding out from Scripture what we ought to do) rather than employing eisegesis (deciding what we ought to do and then looking for scriptural passages to support our preconceived belief). If we look carefully at Scriptures handling of wine (the word most often used to refer to alcoholic beverages in the Bible) we find that it is generally viewed as a companion to gluttony (cf. Deuteronomy 21:20, Proverbs 23:21, Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34). But we recognize that both gluttony and drunkenness are sins of degree quite unlike adultery or murder. A person may

eat and not be a glutton; a person may drink and not be a drunkard. The argument used by some legalists at this point is that regardless how much or little one drinks, he becomes drunk proportional to the amount consumed. The author has in his possession an article from a popular Protestant magazine that actually states, The truth is, after one drink a man is one drink drunk.(11) The writer of this article may just have well have argued that after one bite of food a man is one bite a glutton! Such an argument is ludicrous and without any scriptural validity. Still others make a moral case out of alcohol using as a basis the great number of tragedies that have resulted from its abuse personal heartaches, disease, highway deaths, the breakup of many homes. While such points should be well taken, the fact remains that such instances are examples of the abuse of alcohol and need not imply that its moderate use is inherently wrong. One who categorically forbids alcoholic consumption in any degree on the basis of societys misuse of it may as well forbid all sexual activity, since it too has been sorely abused by society and has led to much heartache, disease, death, and the destruction of many homes. Sex is not inherently evil; neither is drinking. They both may become evil when taken out of their proper contexts: sex in marriage, wine in moderation. Drunkenness, like gluttony, is a sin of degree, a sin of excess. If one chooses not to drink at all based on the kind of reasons we have described above, he may have chosen a better course but he has done so for the wrong reasons. If a person feels he cannot drink because he believes that after one drink hes one drink drunk, then by the same reasoning he would have to conlude that he cannot eat. Often a legalistic-minded Christian will point to Proverbs 20:1 as the basis for his absolute prohibition against drinking. But a close reading of that passage will reveal that it simply warns against the abuse of acohol; it does not provide a strict prohibition against its consumption. The latter part of the verse states that whoever is led astray by it [wine] is not wise. That reflects the absolute against drunkenness, but does not create an absolute against all degrees of consumption. Christians who use these examples to prohibit drinking altogether often are dedicated people endeavoring to please their Lord, and they should not be condemned for their abstinence. Their problems lie with the method of reaching their decision and their tendency to impose their own standard upon other dedicated Christians who do not agree with them in the matter. Had we a clear God-given directive against all degrees of drinking, the abstainers would be right in their insistence that all faithful Christians should emulate their behavior. But the truth is there are no such standards just as there are no specific standards that tell us what type of clothing we are to wear. These choices are dependent on the individual and the society and time in which he lives. One is to dress in a manner that will uphold chastity. One is to eat and drink in a manner that will uphold sobriety. Neither eating nor drinking are in themselves evil; they are what is called in ethical terms adiaphorous (ethically neutral). Too often in matters such as these our backgrounds and subjective impressions of such things bring too much of an influence to our decision-making. Many of our attitudes about alcohol particularly in America are carryovers from the so-called Puritan ethic which largely held that anything that gives pleasure is wrong (though, ironically, the Puritans were not

teetotalers!). Those were the days when such things as going to the theater, laughing on Sunday, and touching between the sexes (even holding hands in public) were strictly taboo. These prohibitions were not derived from God-given directives but were set up by religious men who were obsessed with an almost Pharisaical attitude toward the outward display of righteous behavior. But because many Americans do have hang-ups about the consumption of alcoholic beverages, we ought to bring to mind another directive Scripture gives us that of our influence on others. Turning now to I Corinthians 8, St. Paul here discusses the problem some Corinthians were having regarding eating meat, a controversy that bears a close similarity to our problems with alcohol today. At that time in Corinth many of the Christians were purchasing and eating the meat of animals that had been sacrificed to pagan gods, realizing there was no religious significance attached to those meats as far as they were concerned. But to some of the newer converts who formerly had participated in pagan religious observances with those same meats, they could not divorce the religious significance from the eating of the meats. This was causing a problem. These newer converts could not understand how a Christian, who recognizes only the one true God, could eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, since in their minds this constituted worshiping those idols. St. Paul told the Christians at Corinth that those who were eating meat were right in their conduct. They were at liberty to eat those meats, because they recognized there was no religious significance attached to them. But, St. Paul says, because eating those meats was causing some of the weaker brethren to lose their faith, the meats should be abstained from. St. Paul was saying in effect that if eating meat would offend and weaken the faith of another, even if the meat was a matter of indifference to himself and to God, he would nevertheless refrain from them rather than risk causing his brother to stumble. The conscience of the brother was of far more importance to St. Paul than his own liberty to eat the sacrificial meat. This directive should guide us also in our lives today in relation to taking care not to cause a weaker brother to stumble by drinking alcohol in his presence. If we are living among Christians who have been strongly influenced by the Puritan ethic and have great difficulty separating drinking from drunkenness, then for their sakes we ought not to drink in their presence. We might even choose not to drink in public at all rather than risk a brothers seeing us and becoming weak thereby. We might even choose to abstain from alcohol altogether within such a community. In such a choice we would recognize that drinking in itself is a matter of indifference, but whichever course we take ought to be made to the glory of God. This is not to say that we must give in to the whims of every fellow Christian because, as Henry says, the Christian will need to distinguish between the weaker brother who is genuinely offended and the cavilling brother who uses an appeal to conscience as a tool to serve his own ends. Jesus sharply rebuked the religious hypocrite (Mt. 15:14), and none can be more hypocritical than one who pleads conscience to further his own cause.(12) The stronger brother is not to be judged by the weaker, and the weaker is to recognize the strongers Christian liberty (cf. I Corinthians 10:30). But neither is the stronger to critize the weaker, nor is he to abuse his own liberty at the weaker brothers expense. We ought rather to help the weaker brother grow into a more mature understanding of Christian morality than his legalistic

perception allows. This does not mean we should encourage him to drink, for until he matures in his understanding that would violate his conscience. But we should encourage him to be tolerant and understanding and to realize that because one of his fellow Christians may take a glass of wine with his meal it does not mean that he is a drunkard or a hypocrite. As a cautionary measure it might behoove us to add one final note regarding the Christian and alcohol. In showing that it is permissable for a Christian to drink in moderation, we must be cautious that we do not leave the floodgates open, because the believers liberty is not to license.(13) Humans tend to react in extremes. On the one hand we see the consequences of acohol abuse and pronounce its consumption in any amount to be wrong. On the other we find that it is not evil in itself and give ourselves free license. Neither position is in harmony with Gods will. We are called to freedom, but we are to exercise that freedom judiciously. We are free to drink in moderation, but we may discover it expedient not to drink. Whichever course we decide upon under our given circumstances, we are to decide in the hope that it will better glorify God in our lives.

8. Is a lie ever justified? Before we can answer this question adequately we must first take care that we define our terms correctly and decided what we mean by a lie. If we mean by a lie a practical joke, irony, or a fiction story then we mean something different from the standard definition of a lie. Ethically defined, a lie involves the telling of an untruth with the deliberate intention to deceive. Often when a person asks whether it is ever permissible to tell a lie he has in mind the lies people normally tell when answering common greerings. Usually people greet one another with the question How are you? and the typical response is Fine, thank you even if we feel terrible. This is not a lie because there is no deliberate intention to deceive. Indeed, a person may run the risk of being denied this common greeting if he bears his soul and all his problems to everyone who greets him in such a manner. People do not expect an absolutely truthful response in the exchange of greetings but merely a courteous exchange of pleasantries. If the person inquiring is truly desirous to know of ones physical or emotional condition he generally will reword his question in such a way as to make his intent clear. Another form of courtesy often mistaken for lying is the answer given to such questions as How do I look? or What did you think of so and so? Again, most people ask these questions expecting a complimentary response (and generally will be offended by anything less), and it is only a formality to reply favorably whether we agree with what we are saying or not. If the questioner expects an honest and critical appraisal instead of the customary reply, he will phrase his question differently, usually by adding the word really. This indicates that he wants the actual truth and not simply the courteous platitudes dictated by good manners. To see an example of this type of exchange we might turn to Genesis 23 where Abrahams discourse with Ephron the Hittite is recorded. Abraham proposed buying a field with a cave from Ephron to use for Sarahs burial. In verse 9, he offers to pay the full price for it. Ephron replies in verse 11 (paraphrased), No, sir, listen: I give it to you. Bury your dead. In response Abraham

bows to Ephron, then stands up and says, Tell me the price of the field, for I will buy it and bury my dead. Ephron answers in verse 15, What is a piece of land worth 400 shekels of silver between you and me? Take it, bury your dead. In the next verse Abraham measures out 400 shekels of silver for the purchase of the field. Now all this verbiage had a purpose in the ancient world. In it was expressed common courtesy between two men in a transaction. At no point did Ephron intend to give the field to Abraham gratis, though his words sound that way to us today. Abraham understood this. Middle Eastern courtesy required Ephron to offer it to Abraham as a gift, just as it also required Abraham to insist on paying. Though our society does things differently today, we show a similar courtesy sometimes among friends when, for example, we stop on the way to a friends house and purchase some foodstuffs he has requested. If we want him to pay us back but dont want to appear so crass as to simply hand him the receipt, we generally say something to the effect of, Dont worry about it. Whats $20 between friends? In stating the cost we imply th at we expect him to reimburse us, but we do it in a less offensive manner than by blatantly asking for the money. No lies have been exchanged in such transactions because no intent to deceive has been present. We must not confuse common courtesies with lies. Neither do we find the use of irony to constitute lying. Irony is saying one thing but in such a way that we mean something else, usually indicated by the tone of voice employed. The prophet Micah used irony in answering King Ahab when he was asked whether Ahab should go to war against Ramoth Gilead (I Kings 22:15). St. Paul used irony when writing to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 11:16-12:13). Many other such instances are recorded throughout Scripture. The way in which a statement is worded or the inflection used in ones voice gives evidence that the statement is not to be interpreted as truth but as irony. This is not lying. But if our original question refers to a lie in the real sense telling an untruth with the deliberate intention to deceive then we may find strict biblical injunctions against it. Numerous passages reflect this absolute law, which is perhaps the most fundamental law of the God of truth. Exodus 23:1, Leviticus 19:11, Psalm 34:13, Proverbs 6:16,17, Proverbs 13:5, John 8:44, Colossians 3:9, and Revelation 21:8 are but a few of the passages that speak to the beauty of truth and the wickedness of a lying tongue. Adherence to the truth is a law, and a law cannot be broken without consequence. Nowhere is this law presented in the sense of Thou shalt not lie, unless it is difficult not to. When telling the truth becomes difficult, we have recourse to call upon God for help so that His grace may help us through the temptation and find a way of escape. Inevitably, however, someone will bring up one of Joseph Flatchers hypothetical situations to try and justify lying on occasion. Usually the story is about a crazed killer who is seeking someones friend and comes to his house asking if he knows where the intended victim is. If he knows, is he to tell the truth and allow the killer to murder his friend, or is he to lie and thus save his friends life? Most of us stop with this question, but we really ought to take the process a step further and ask whether a lie in such a case would be justified i.e., would it constitute good and right behavior, as Fletcher claimed?

In answering this kind of question we should again preface our discussion by ackowledging that such a situation is likely never to confront us. But if it were to arise, there seem to be three possible ways a Christian might try looking at it. a) We might say that in such a circumstance the killer has forfeited the right to know the truth because of his intent. This parallels somewhat the concept that a criminal forfeits his life when he commits murder. The right to life is inalienable according to Scripture. Yet if someone does take anothers life, then his own life is forfeit. A third party may execute him because of his crime. The executioner is not committing murder in his act, because the criminal forfeited his right to life when he committed murder. In a similar manner, when a person is bent on mischief he may have forfeited his right to know the truth in a given circumstance. Looking at the situation from this viewpoint, the person answering the killers question would be in a position somewhat analogous to that of the executioner: lying (and killing) is normally wrong but is permissible in these abnormal circumstances because the individual with malicious intent has forfeited his right to know the truth, just as a murderer forfeits his right to life. The problem with this approach seems to be that it may not always be easy to determine at what point someone gives up his right to the truth. Granted, in a case like the one presented the intent would be clearly malicious. But what of a case in which a neighbor and his wife are angry with each other and the wife seeks asylum in her friends house? If the husband comes asking for his wifes whereabouts, how is the friend to know what his real intentions are? Has he come to try and harm his wife, or does he intend to apologize to her? Would the husband have forfeited his right to the truth? b) We might say that, according to the letter of the law, a person who would tell a lie for any reason (even to save someones life) still sins, but in such case he sees the lie as preferable to seeing his friend murdered. He therefore chooses to sin by lying, but then casts himself upon the mercy of a just and understanding God. He claims the Cross as his justification and does not view his act as inherently good. Though a more reasonable approach than a, this analysis appears to contradict St. Pauls statement in I Corinthians 10:13 where he says that God will not allow a man to be tempted beyond what he is able to endure but will always provide an avenue of escape from sin. c) We might instead parallel this example with the one given earlier concerning the woman who is confronted with the choice of allowing herself to be raped or seeing her children killed. By placing a person in the position of either betraying his friend or betraying his conscience against his will, the sin would rest with the aggrieving party. The killer is forcing the person to make a choice between having his conscience raped, so to speak, or seeing his friend murdered if he refuses. In such a case a wrong will have been done, but it would be laid to the charge of the killer, for the one confronted with this choice would not in such a case be choosing to lie as a matter of free will but is forced into a situation with only two evil consequences. A lie in this analysis is still a lie and is in no way good or right behavior, but it may be the only rational choice.

But whichever view one takes in such an incongruous situation, he should note that in each view a lie remains a lie, an anomaly, an example of abnormal behavior. In such abnormal circumstances one may have to resort to an abnormal response, but that does not make that response intrinsically right. A wrong is still committed under views b and c, or is permitted under a. At its best it constitutes a loathsome act much like the executioners in view a. The wrong committed must rest either upon the person telling the lie or upon the one who forced its telling. We are not at liberty to deduce from such an abnormal situation that lying is sometimes justifiable and good behavior in and of itself. To accept that a lie would ever represent righteous behavior, we are merely adopting the same kind of situation ethics as that espoused by Fletcher. If we begin with the assumption that it is acceptable to lie for another persons good, how is one to know whether we are ever telling the truth? What basis of trust can be obtained with this position? Rather, we must begin with the basic premise that lying is wrong and is to be avoided, and then approach any truly incongruous situation with that working foundation of truth. We cannot operate the system in reverse without opening the doors to chaos. 9. Do people have a right to die? Is allowing a person to die letting nature take its course wrong? Without attempting to sound facetious, we must ackowledge that not only does everyone have a right to die but also that everyone has a duty to do so. Death is inevitable, as both Scripture and human observation reveal: It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Recognizing the certainty of death and the immpossibility of avoiding it, the Christian views mans attempts at immortality in the physical realm as futile. He knows that death is the consequence of life. But the Christian also knows that death is not the end of man and that his existence continues beyond the grave. Therefore the Christian does not seek, as many secularists do, survival as the ultimate objective. The Christian does not take death lightly, of course, but neither does he view it as the terminate evil. Instead he keeps it in proper perspective with his entire world- and life-view. These considerations might at first appear somewhat academic when we realize, as is obvious, that the question has to do with whether to allow euthanasia to be performed on a terminally ill patient or whether we are permitted at some point in his treatment to withdraw further treatment and allow the natural consequences to follow. But our view of death and of life as a whole has a profound effect on the way we approach this question. Since the Christian does not see death as the worst that can befall us, he does not see the same need to resort to extraordinary measures to preserve life artificially as does one who holds no belief in an afterlife. At the same time, the Christian does not have such a low view of life that he would allow its wanton destruction for social or economic reasons. His view of death, as his view of life, is kept in proper perspective and in harmony with the revealed will of God.

When we look for absolutes in Scripture regarding the degree to which we may allow ourselves to sustain life by medical means, we find none. The absolutes we do discover which deal with life and death show us that it is never permitted for one person to take the life of another (Exodux 20:13, Matthew 5:21,22, ad inf.), the only exceptions being killing in selfdefense, killing an enemy soldier in combat, and executing a condemned criminal. All of life is to be viewed as belonging to God (Genesis 9:4-6, Leviticus 17:10,11,14, Deuteronomy 12:23, Acts 15:20,29, Acts 17:25-28, I Timothy 6:13). In light of the imperative command not to take human life, Christians should recognize easily that willfully taking anothers life, even one suffering a terminal illness, is forbidden. God does not allow murder under the contingencies of relieving human suffering or ending a subjectively deemed non-quality life. The overt killing of any individual, regardless his physical or mental condition, would in Christian terms constitute murder, not mercy. But here arises the real question: What constitutes the overt killing of a person suffering from a terminal illness? At what point does one refuse to allow further treatment of someone in an apparently hopeless condition, and does the refusal of further treatment constitute an overt act of murder? These are the real questions most Christians are asking when they ask whether it is ever permissible to just allow nature to take its course. It is vitally important at this point to define what we mean when we say let nature take its course. There are three meanings often covered by this phrase, and the Christian needs to be aware of them. When some people (mostly physicians who hold to a non-Christian ethic) say let nature take its course, they really mean do nothing whatever to help sustain life. One of the saddest examples of this is the setting aside of certain newborns with various genetic deficiences for the express purpose of allowing them to die (a kind of post-partem abortion). This is done in many hospitals around the world, often without the knowledge of the mothers who have merely requested that they would rather let nature take its course than go to extreme heroic measures to save the life of an infant who in all likelihood would never survive anyway. Whether the mothers attitude is correct is another question, but most certainly they do not mean that they want their newborn to be totally ignored so that they never have the slightest chance for survival, nor do they mean that they want their babies to have a sign placed on them saying Do not feed until they starve to death. Yet to some people that is what the phrase let nature take its course means. On the other hand there are some who mean by this phrase that we are to do nothing to interfere with nature or natural processes. This view is held by a small number of religious groups some nominally Christian who believe that man is not to interfere with whatever happens, even to the point of refusing any form of medicine or medical treatment. To these people any interference in an attempt to alter the course of nature is construed as an attempt to change the will of God. While these people may be admired for their courage and dedication, they are to be pitied for their poor understanding of Gods purpose in allowing man to have dominion over nature to subdue it. As Helmut Thielecke points out, [mans] life is one constant intervention in nature, no matter whether he is cultivating the wilderness and turning it into a garden or allowing a doctor to intervene in the natural course of a disease and swallows some medicine. Intervening in nature and thus the employment of artificial means is not in itself questionable, but paradoxically is a part of nature, that is to say, the nature of man.(14)

What the Christian must mean, then, when he asks whether it is ever permissible to let nature take its course is whether it is permissible to let the natural and inevitable consequences proceed without further intervention. Essentially the Christian is asking, as Thielecke asks, whether our right to intervene in nature is unlimited. As we have observed previously, the Christian views human life as sacred and therefore valuable. He sees it as valuable enough to intervene in nature at times when nature attempts to threaten life. But the Christian also recognizes that death is ultimately inevitable and that mans capacity to intervene in nature, however much he may wish it otherwise, is not unlimited. He may be able to postpone death, but he cannot escape it. Nor should he attempt to. At what point, then, does the Christian decide to stop trying to intervene in nature and allow death to take place? This brings us down essentially to a subjective decision. But subjective though it is, it is a decision that still must be made based on certain objective factors and should be made only after much careful intellectual deliberation and much prayer. In weighing the objective evidence we must first consider the patient in question and the viable alternatives available. That is, we take into account whether the patient has expressed his own wishes in this matter and what realistic medical alternatives are possible. When we come to the latter we are not asked to consider the remotely possible alternatives but the real, viable alternatives currently available to us. In one sense this involves a denial of future possibilities in that we need not bring into the discussion treatments that might be available at some future date, but must content ourselves with considering the options open to us at the present time. Sometimes people who have allowed a loved ones respirator to be turned off feel guilty when a new techniqe or treatment is later developed. They begin to feel that if only they had allowed their loved one to remain on the respirator a few more months or years, perhaps their life could have been saved. But this is an unreasonable guilt because on that basis patients may be left alive for countless years by artificial means and, after all that, no cure or treatment may ever be found. In comparison we might look back a few years ago to a time when a person was considered dead when no pulse could be detected. In our own time we realize that simply because a persons heart stops beating in no wise indicates that he is dead, and countless people are walking our streets today whose hearts have stopped several times already in the course of their lives. Our modern technology has learned ways of resuscitating a nonbeating heart. Had these people lived in earlier centuries they never would have received that second lease on life. Are we to conclude from this that all the people who lived during that era and allowed countless millions of people to die before they should have (by todays standards) are guilty? Certainly not. They operated on the basis of the medical knowledge they possessed at that time. We can be expected to do no better in that respect. Even though we know exponentially more now about prolonging life than did our medical sages of ages past, there is still a point beyond which nothing more can be done. Death is still, and always will be, the ultimate victor. Whether a life is prolonged a day or a month or a year by artificial means in some cases makes no difference, because on the basis of what we know there is no further hope of restoring health. At such a point an individual could hardly be held guilty

for allowing nature to takes its ultimate course, no more than could the men of old who allowed death to result when no hope was evident due to the absence of a pulse. It is understood that no one can establish at exactly what point hope gives way to hopelessness, and there is therefore no way to establish absolute criteria for determining when it may be permissible to cease medical treatment. When the Christian is faced with such a decision he must weigh his objective considerations carefully and prayerfully. He should be careful not to make his decision on economic or utilitarian grounds but upon the basis of Gods will. He therefore should consider the following: the best medical information currently available to him the sacredness of human life in general and of the individual in particulat the recognition that life is to be preserved and honored whenever possible, but that death is not the ultimate evil the realization that, as a Christian, whatever decision he makes should be made to the glory of God In all this, of course, prayer will be an essential element. The Christian has not been left directionless, in this or in any other question. He has the help of the Holy Spirit whom God has given him. He is not left to make decisions on the basis of some irrational leap of faith, nor is he left entirely to his own resources. He has been given an intellect with which to reason and a heart with which to pray. The two are not divorced from each other but are integral parts of his unity as a being created by God. With this being he is to serve God and to seek Him, and with it he is to strive to emulate that perfect will in order that he may present his body a living sacrifice in loving response to Gods matchless grace through His Son, Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, the author reiterates that his purpose in presenting these questions and answers has not been to attempt a dogmatic or catechetical response to these issues, nor has it been his attempt to propose answers to all questions of ethical importance in contemporary society. These few questions simply serve as examples for demonstrating the decision-making process for which the foundation was laid in the earlier portions of this book. It is possible that all Christians will not agree with the answers here presented, but what is important is that we each work from the same base and seek to please God as best we know how. We must realize that the Christian life is a life of growth, and that this is the important quality to maintain in our Christian ethics as well as in all other aspects of our lives. Where we differ with one another we should discuss the matters lovingly and prayerfully and should continue striving to grow in our understanding of Gods will and in our application of it. If this book has helped in any small way to enable the Christian to better perfect his ability to make ethical decisions in the light of Gods directives, then it will have served its purpose.