The Role of Scripture in Christian Moral Formation / Ethical Decision-Making Today

The Role of Scripture in Christian Moral Formation / Ethical Decision-Making Today

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The question of what the place and role of Scripture is in Christian moral formation and ethical decision-making today is not one that I believe has a single answer. There is the perspective of what I might believe it should be versus what it actually is, as well as how in reality it plays out in different contexts. Those Christians who identify on the more liberal end of the spectrum may differ than those on the more conservative end, as well as those Christians who read and accept the Scripture as the “literal words of God” versus those who may fall more towards Scripture as the “inspired words of God” or even those who see it more as just a retelling of the history of a people and how they understood their own faith and life journey. To identify as Christian in the world today does not bring with it a completely universal understanding of the authority of the Scriptures, “what Jesus would do”, or even a fully set of equally accepted moral values and beliefs.
Author Allen Verhey, in his text Remembering Jesus, raises some of these issues in his third chapter where he writes, “There are some problems with Scripture, and there are some problems with us, with those who would use Scripture in moral discourse. There are reasons to be cautious and also, perhaps, a little suspicious when Scripture is ‘used’ in moral discourse.” One does not have to go very far back in the history of this country, or the world-at-large, to find times where Scripture was used to “justify” oppression, torture, and even murder of others based on the moral discernment of those in power. From the crusades to slavery in the United States, Scripture has been used, arguably out of context, to condone and advocate for some truly horrific acts against God’s cre...

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... and interpreting Scripture for any purpose, but maybe especially in the cases of moral and ethical questions, the end result should still be compatible with how we understand God’s love for all of creation. If instead the end result causes danger to God’s creation, or oppression, or any other harmful practice, it has not been used appropriately. Scripture should play an important role in the Christian moral formation and ethical decision-making processes, but only when done so with and through love – God’s love.

Works Cited

Cosgrove, Charles. "The Bible in Christian Ethics: An Outline of Select Topics" (Handout received in Christian Moral Theology with Professor Hendrik Pieterse, Evanston, Illinois, March 6, 2014).

Verhey, Allen. Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life. pbk. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2005.

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