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Identify the different sources of Christian approaches to ethics and the broad ethical theories to which they relate.

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Introduction

Identify the different sources of Christian approaches to ethics and the broad ethical theories to which they relate. There are a number of ethical systems adopted by Christians today on deciding what is right or wrong? Which principles to follow in ethical dilemmas? etc. The bible remains the key source of guidance for these Christian groups, primarily the Ten Commandments, however some Christian ethical systems don't hold as stern views on the Ten Commandments as others. The Roman Catholic Church is the only part of the church to lay down precise teachings. They have a deontological, objective stance to most dilemmas, for instance in relation to abortion the Church maintains life begins as early as when the woman's egg is fertilized by the male sperm, so abortion is always wrong no matter what. They withhold the 'divine command theory' in which the 'the word of God' is a moral absolute and unchanging in any circumstances, so suicide is always wrong because its goes against 'the word of God' demonstrated in the Old Testament "Thou Shalt not Kill" (Exodus 20:13) ...read more.

Middle

However, with these deontological views the Roman Catholic Church also maintains that 'conscience plays an important role in moral decision making with Aquinas' view that conscience is reason making moral decisions, remember how the motive is always important. Conscience must be informed by prayer and worship, the teaching of the church, experience and the inner voice of the holy spirit' because of the motive is as important as the action; the conscience in a way is the motive. This in a sense this can be linked to virtue theory which asks how you can be a better person, and what qualities make you good, good motive can be one of these qualities making conscience an important tool. Sacred scriptures are obviously an important source of Guidance for both the Roman Catholic Church and Natural Law theorists because of their belief in the 'divine command'. 'In catholic Christianity the bible is an important source of guidance that cannot be changed, and so the place of the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount and other key texts about Christian behavior form a divine law which no-one can change.' ...read more.

Conclusion

The approach of situation ethics develops a principle from Jesus' action of breaking the law when the situation demanded it for love. Like the Church of England it takes into account the complexities of human life, and it can make tough decisions where, from an absolutist perspective all actions seem wrong. Understandably so it rejected by the Catholic system, in 1952 Pope Pius XII called Situation Ethics 'an individualistic and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of actions to justify decisions in opposition to the natural law or Gods revealed will'. The Roman Catholic Church still holds the natural law approach. So in summary, Christian approaches to ethics in general are not consistent, the Roman Catholic Church is the only part of the Church to lay down precise absolutist teachings withholding Aquinas' natural law approach; whereas there are other liberal Christian approaches like the Church of England which do not view the Ten Commandments as absolutely as the Catholic Church rather they seem more adaptable to love and the situation. REFERENCE: Robert Bowie, Ethical Studies, Pg 137-139. ?? ?? ?? ?? Mohsin Ali Raja 08/05/2007 12MD ...read more.

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