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RST-303-20, Christian Ethics (SP14)

INSTRUCTOR:  Dr. Brian Berry 

SCHEDULE/DAY/TIME:  SEM/Saturday/12:00-2:45PM, 02/01/2014-05/17/2014

CONTENT:

This course is an introduction to the discipline of Christian ethics. Following initial discussion of the context and method of contemporary Christian ethics, in the first part of the course, we will examine the history of the discipline from the biblical through the patristic, medieval, and reformation periods. Particular attention will be given to Jesus of Nazareth, the New Testament, Augustine of Hippo, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin. In the second part, we will explore major contemporary approaches to Christian ethics, including the universal ethics of Karl Barth and Richard McCormick;    the subversive ethics of Gustavo Gutiérrez, James Cone, and Rosemary Ruether; and the ecclesial ethics of John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas. Finally, in the third part,   we will discuss the implications of these various approaches for contemporary social ethics (war), sexual ethics (homosexuality), and bioethics (assisted conception). Special attention will be given throughout to both Roman Catholic and Protestant approaches.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES: 

The course is designed to enable students to:

1. Understand the origins of Christian ethics in the stories of the people of Israel, Jesus of Nazareth, and the earliest Christian communities.

2. Articulate how Christian ethics developed over time through the interaction of the ethics of the bible with different historical and cultural contexts and different ethical theories.

3. Understand the distinctive features of major contemporary approaches to Christian ethics, including universal ethics, subversive ethics, and ecclesial ethics.

4. Apply these various approaches to moral issues in political and economic life, in human relationships and sexuality, and at the beginning and end of life.

5. Express clearly and convincingly, both orally and in writing, their own positions on a range of contemporary moral issues.

6. Demonstrate a capacity for mature ethical judgments consistent with the Judeo-Christian tradition.

METHODS:

1. Focused readings

2. Weekly short papers

3. Class discussions

4. Lectures

REQUIREMENTS AND ASSIGNMENTS:

1. Attendance at all classes and active participation (10%).

2. Eight one-page papers (40%).

3. A mid-term exam (20%).

4. A final research paper and presentation (30%).

REQUIRED TEXT(S) OR MATERIALS:

1. Wells, Samuel, and Ben Quash. Introducing Christian Ethics. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. ISBN 9781405152761.

2. Wells, Samuel, ed. Christian Ethics: An Introductory Reader. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010. ISBN 9781405168878.

READINGS AND/OR ASSIGNMENTS TO BE DONE PRIOR TO THE FIRST CLASS:

Wells and Quash, Introducing Christian Ethics, vii-ix.

Wells, ed., Christian Ethics: An Introductory Reader, xii-xv.