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Posts tagged "Ethics"

The Shape of Modern Morality: Swapping Jesus for Hitler?

The hippies of the 1960s didn’t kill Christianity. Adolf Hitler did. Let me explain. From the 1960s onwards, discussions of the decline of Christendom and the cultural influence of the church gravitate toward a number of topics of moral controversy. The pill, abortion, youth culture, and the sexual revolution are all usually viewed as flash-points […]

On “Lawlessness” and Understanding: The Gospel for Jews and Greeks

The counter-cultural, revolutionary nature of Christianity is en vogue at the moment, and understandably so. The world is not the Gospel; its claims and promises are, in the words of David Zahl, “seculosities” that we can’t help but uncritically accept. We swim amid an ocean of competing ideologies. Part of the appeal of Christianity is […]

How Jesus Solves the Trolley Problem

There’s a famous thought experiment called the Trolley Problem that goes like this: imagine you are standing by a trolley track, and an out-of-control trolley car whizzes by. Looking ahead, you see that five people have been tied to the track by an evil moustache-twirling villain, and they will die if the trolley continues on […]

Is There Life After Law? A Few Reflections on Pauline Ethics

Another wonderful piece by Charis Hamiltonius, continuing from last week’s entry on Luther and Paul. “Shall we continue in sin in order that grace may abound?” This rhetorical question, dropped in the middle of Paul’s lengthy argument in Romans against a Law-oriented life, is not without merit. If grace is freely given to the ungodly, […]

Sinners and Saints in a Pandemic

One of the oldest words in the history of hospital care is the French term “triage”—meaning, the sorting of patients. The practice of triage keeps a hospital organized (Intensive Care Unit here, Emergency Room there), but it also provides a way of prioritizing the care of patients. This is especially important on battlefields and in […]

Personalizing Law and the Awkwardness of Kissing Albertine

Many pastors feel they’re losing credibility. A greater attention to the Law in human experience could help regain it.

Along with preaching the Gospel, which overwhelms and effaces our faults, there is still, in Luther’s thought at least, the need to preach God’s Law, which – in addition to making sense of the world around us – lets us know how we stand before God, which is always as those who are spiritually impoverished in themselves and in need of continual mercy. As grace comes into focus only when we know we have done wrong, so the Gospel comes into focus only when…

Addiction, Psychotherapy, and Paul Tillich

We all have our doubts about Paul Tillich (heresy, philandering, or the embarrassingly earnest Christian existentialist phase you had in college), but he crafted some seriously good Protestant ethics in a small tract called Morality and Beyond. With his trademark psychological acumen, he’s one of the few ethicists who casts the question in Law/Grace terminology. […]

A Quick Calvin and Hobbes

The Immoral Ethics of Desire (on the Other Side of Should)

A very thought-provoking recent entry in the NY Times column, The Stone, entitled, “Confessions of an Ex-Moralist” in which Yale philosopher/ethicist Joel Marks comes clean about the precarious relationship between moral relativism and moral nihilism, among other things. Not unlike the book of secularist essays we covered last week, Marks had devoted his professional life […]

Ethical Fading, Vested Interests, and (Un-)Willful Misconduct

An illuminating op-ed by professors Mark Bazerman and Ann Tenbrunsel in the Times, “Stumbling Into Bad Behavior,” explaining the phenomenon known as “ethical fading,” in other words, unethical conduct which is unconscious in nature (as much apparently is) – mainly in relation to business practices, but the lessons translate. Once again we’re confronted with evidence […]

Karl Holl on Creativity, Heart, and ‘Situation-Ethics’

In The Reconstruction of Morality (1979 Augsburg edition, as cited last week), Holl brushes up fairly close to what later American theologians would call ‘situation-ethics’. What we came to know in the 1960s as ‘situation-ethics’, the effects of which are still with us, sounds a little like what Karl Holl is saying when he talks […]

Karl Holl on Morality as Instinctive

In his lecture on Luther’s earlier ethical views, which was published and then re-worked between 1919 and 1923, Karl Holl wrote in a way that today could be described as ‘luminous’. The American edition of that lecture, entitled The Reconstruction of Morality (Augsburg, 1979, translated by Fred W. Meuser and Walter R. Wietzke from the […]