Introduction to Christian Ethics

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One semester, 4 credit points.
Semester 1, 2019
Scott Harrower

These days, people want to know if Christianity is thinkable and liveable before considering its claims. And it’s usually ethical issues which are the number one stumbling block for non-believers, making it vitally important Christians understand what they believe is right and wrong, and why. Should we base our ethical decisions on duty, the consequences of our actions or on principles of virtue? This unit will explore these three models of ethical theory, and allow students to see that the Bible critiques and challenges our ethical assumptions on issues ranging from marriage and divorce, racism and sexism, sexuality, and wealth and money. It will equip students with an understanding of ethical theory, Biblical ethics and a framework for approaching modern day ethical issues so that they’re better able to engage with the world and live consistently within it.


In the first two-thirds of the unit you will spend time each week exploring (via video lectures, readings and online discussions) Biblical ethics (Old Testament, Jesus and Paul) and various ethical theories (deontological, teleological, mixed ethical theories) with the aim of helping you to develop a methodology or way of thinking as you approach ethical issues. During the final third of the unit you will apply thinking in three areas where ethical issues arise: life (euthanasia), death (abortion) and war, with additional input from specialists in these areas, Denise Cooper-Clarke and Michael Bird.

In your written assignments you will explore areas of tension or conflict in biblical and ethical theories and will choose from one of the following areas to explore in more depth:

  • divorce and re-marriage
  • homosexuality
  • sexism
  • wealth and poverty in Melbourne

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