Christian Ethics by Bernard Hoose

By Bernard Hoose

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Between the Israelites' liberation from oppression in Egypt and their aggression in Canaan — both of which are judged positively by biblical writers) as 'normatively proper' analogues to this or that political-ethical situation today. His recommendation was that those biblically described situations should be preferred which were 'more nearly consistent with certain central tendencies of the biblical, theological, and moral witness' and '"truer" to the central themes of biblical morality'. 63 I take the point that the choice of 'biblical analogies' can be biased, and consequently that caution and control are necessary.

Should Paul's exhortation to respect civil authorities as God's ministers (Rom 13) take priority over his recommendation that we should consider secular courts 'unrighteous' (1 Cor 6 [he means: in the biblical sense])? Should we take it that the non-Christian partner in a 'mixed' marriage is 'consecrated' by the Christian (1 Cor 7:14), or should Christians recoil from any union with non-believers on pain of being denied (2 Cor 6:14—18)? Then, even if there were some acceptable criteria for separating off those biblical injunctions that are still 'valid' from those which are no longer so, on what criteria are Christian ethicists to decide how to interpret this or that still valid command, and to determine what its status and function must be?

As I shall argue below, the quest for 'normativity' in the Bible is probably the greatest single obstacle to a constructive Christian-ethical use of the Bible. Conversely, I think that an imaginative and relaxed use of biblical 'analogies' (especially given the fascination of historical critics with the situational contexts of biblical writings) might be one useful area of shared insight between biblical scholars and Christian ethicists. 25 Tom Deidun The Bible reveals not a morality but a reality: the character of the living God Although in some respects this approach is similar to the one just described, it differs from it in that it is not concerned with the biblical writers' moral reactions to particular situations but with their description of what God is like and how God acts.

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