Re: Religious Life/Professional Ethics

Dennis Feucht (
Mon, 2 Feb 1998 23:57:34 -0500

In response to George and Burgy, I take your point about there not always
being a simple reduction of ethical judgment to moral calculation. Though
Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law in his life, his contemporaries who were
legal experts found blatant violations, by their estimation. This suggests
to me that the central issue is: how do we follow Christ's example in
extrapolating or generalizing from the basic principles the Law provides to
specific issues it does not? In fulfilling the Law, Christ's conduct
transcended it in some important respects. Having the mind of Christ, in
the A. Paul's sense, is perhaps, the key to rightly judging tough
situations, but such a departure from simple rules into the freedom we have
in Christ involves risk that our ethical judgments might be wrong. Yet we
are called to exercise such freedom in the Spirit of the Word.

This is analogous to the epistemological risk of commiting ourselves to
actual beliefs. Some of our ethical understanding will similarly be
tentative and in dynamic formation. Jan's example suggests that there is
this experimental component to Christian ethics.

In this context, I see the Law of God as providing a kind of outer-limit
guard on our ethical reasoning (or rationalization), and the various clear
NT warnings against certain conducts, I think, suggest this. In other
words, there are clear limits, but within them, discerning right conduct is
a free act of judgment by minds established in the biblical worldview.

Dennis Feucht