Toward a Notion of Christian Ethics
With this warning echoing on the web against amateur philosophizing. But that being noted, I will forge ahead nonetheless. Meta-ethics is that branch of ethics not describing normative ethics (how we act) but instead the means by which we do ethics. Two popular branches of ethical methodologies are deontology and consequentialism (of the latter, utilitiarianism is a particular example). It is my sense that virtue ethics via Aristotle and later supporters, while put forth some ancient Greeks, is less in favor today. Deontology, roughly speaking, is rule based ethics. Some time ago, I suggested that Christian ethics are neither of these. Christian ethics, described meta-ethically, I suggest are pneumatological.
Christian ethics is not deontological. Jesus time and time again speaks out against deontological Phariseeism, rejecting rigid, or perhaps even non-so-rigid, following of laws described and set down by man.
Christian ethics is not consequentialist. We don’t do our actions in order to “store up pennies in heaven” as it were. Salvation is not garnered via works of men.
What does this mean? In theology, pneumatology relates to the Holy Spirit. That is the Spirit, in the Trinitarian sense, is the center of Christian ethics. Why might we think of ethics for the Christian as pneumatological. As a Christian, to borrow a phrase from R.R. Reno, we are called to be “transparent” to Christ, that is to perform his will through us as if we were transparent. This is effected in the world, via the Spirit to inspire us as to how to do His will.
How might Pneumatological ethics work in practice? How does one discern the will of the Spirit. What has been said and laid out in Scripture and in our Tradition is one source for seeking guidance in this matter. But, for example, bio-ethics today is consistently throwing up questions and issues which are new to this age. How does one act in those cases. I’d suggest, prayer, fasting, being open to inspiration, and seeking advice from those who have more spiritual insight seem all likely possibilities.
Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!