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A manner of travel on the way to the destination
on April 20, 2008
Look everywhere around you, both close at home and at large. Perhaps look into your own heart. What has happened to the world? Do you see disillusionment, discouragement, cheating, lying, disrespect, unfaithfulness? Do you find dishonesty, greed, lust, corruption, loss of values? Have you lost your way? Have your leaders lost theirs?
"Walking the Way: An Introduction to Christian Ethics" was not written to deal with the questions asked above. "The purpose [of this book] is practical--to learn how to live as the people of God, in character and in conduct....[and] belief and behavior" (2). However, if a person possesses the characteristics listed above, s/he can commit as a person of God to "the Way" of Christ (John 14:6) and be changed.
Christian ethics deals with "oughtness," in how to live and what to live for, all based on Scripture and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. .
This verse from Micah in the Christian Old Testament serves as a coda for behavior: "What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" (6:8). In the introduction, then, Trull explains that Christian ethics can be taught and why it is important in facing "moral storms" that surround us (see partial list in first paragraph).
Trull's book encompasses the historical background to both philosophy, generally, and ethics, specifically. He lays out the language and theories of ethics, which establish the framework for Christian ethics. Are you familiar with Socrates, Plato, Kant, categorical imperative, ethical relativism, deontology, prima facie duties, teleology, the proper way to interpret Scripture, Hebrew morality, and ethical teachings of the prophets, Christ, Paul, John, and the Holy Spirit? This list is just an inkling of the topics and terms Trull covers in Part 1.
Perhaps the biggest downfall of followers of the Way is what the Apostle James wrote: "But be doers of the Word, and not merely hearers" (1:22). As an adjunct, Trull explains how fundamentalism developed in the United States in opposition to liberal theology, which took in principles of Darwinism, evolution, and the Enlightenment. The Niagra Creed of 1878 listed five fundamentals of Christianity, one of which is inerrancy of Scripture, which led eventually to legalism, the hard-hearted aspect of Christianity. Christ warned about following the letter of the law while neglecting the spirit and intent (Matt. 15:3-9). Trull concludes this section with a Model for Moral Decision Making.
Trull deals with specific ethical issues in Part II, beginning with Christian and personal ethics. Trull lists all kinds of personal issues, including addictions, then applies Scripture in response and support. He cites the Modesto Manifesto, created by the Billy Graham ministry, which includes "a set of practical guidelines for maintaining moral purity and avoiding even the appearance of evil" (155).
Chapter seven particularly concerns sexuality, marriage, and divorce. Other related chapters deal with equality of gender and race. Still others include biomedical ethics, economics, and politics.
With the presidential campaign a current hot topic, political issues must be mentioned here: crime and punishment, gun control, civil disobedience, war, church-state relations. Trull provides many examples and explanations.
What is a Christian to do in following Christian ethics? Preserve the world from moral decay and dispel moral darkness; bring healing and hope to victims of immoral behavior. Walk in the Way in order to glorify God.
Highly recommended! (Note: This is a Protestant work, although I see no conflicts with Catholic teachings.)