Talk:Christian ethics

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Currently (Thanksgiving night 2012) the Criticism section has the referenced authors comments on ethics and the bible in quotation marks, the way it is currently phrased and formatted could very easily give the impression that these are quotations or paraphrases from the bible itself rather than commentary on it. There is also the issue of having a Criticism section but no "Defense" or "Response to Criticism" section. These flaws make this article deeply biased rather than NPOV and somewhat misleading. Wouldn't it be better to put the parts of the bible that are objected to on ethical grounds in quotations with objections listed beside them rather than a summery and interpretation of those passages? And this could also allow a counter-viewpoint on the passage to be presented right along side the passage and it's criticism, giving the reader well-rounded and highly informative information instead of what comes off as vague but forceful disapproval of biblical ethics. Also since the article is dealing with specifically christian ethics and already points out that there are major differences of opinion by christians on wether the mosaic law is applicable to christians or merely instructive perhaps the old testament section should be moved somewhere else. I think these measures could vastly improve both the article's objectivity and informative-ness. What do you think? PlatinumBeetle (talk) 04:46, 23 November 2012 (UTC)


Christian ethics did not die out with Aquinas or Bonhoeffer. Can we maybe include some sections on influential modern Christian ethicists? Stanley Hauerwas of Sam wells for example. We really just need to broaden the scope of this article.Dirtbike spaceman (talk) 22:43, 9 March 2009 (UTC)

Change title to "History of Christian Ethics"[edit]

This is an excellent article, but it seems to outline the history of Christian ethical thought, rather than predominate or modern ethical teaching. If there is no objection in the next few days, I will make this change. Quantumelfmage (talk) 22:49, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

Unacceptable Article on "Christian Ethics," Biased and Unsubstantiated[edit]

One of the serious weaknesses of this article on Christian ethics is the complete absence of anything but a tendentious treatment of Catholic ethics in Western Europe. Nothing is said about the Orthodox tradition of moral thought and practice. Nothing is said about the lively developments in Latin America, Africa, or Asia, where some of the most important developments in Christian ethics have occurred.

It is appalling that people might come to this article to learn about Christian ethics, only to be given the impression that it is nothing but a minor wrinkle in the ancient Catholic Church, updated by Scholasticism and its heirs. Oh, that, and a minor off-shoot of some obscure and unimportant thing called Protestant ethics.

His treatment of Catholic ethics, which he assumes IS Christian Ethics is biased with the enthusiasm of the partisan: Augustine and Aquinas have established the truth for all time, he implies. But, assuming the author is Roman Catholic, has there been nothing of note out of the Catholic Church regarding ethics since the 16th Century? The Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, a multi-volume work of great breadth and historical value is completely absent. All the Papal Encyclicals on social issues of the last 150 years, are they irrelevant? The profound revolution of Catholic ethics originating in Vatican 2? Absent. Liberation Theology, Humanum Vitae, economic life between socialism and capitalism? the Arms Race? Immigration? Not a word. Yet the Vatican and Catholic ethicists have had a lot to say about them.

Another weakness is the lack of awareness of modern ethics outside of the churches and how they have affected the development of Christian Ethics. How can you have a serious discussion of Christian Ethics without any reference to philosophical currents after the 13th Century? The absence of any mention of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, continental phenomenology or Anglo-American analytic and process philosophies, let alone what is going on in the Law, renders this article worse than useless. It misleads. How can we understand even the moral thought of the previous pope John Paul 2 without understanding both Marxist and Phenomenolgical moral philosophies that are part of his intellectual background?

I realize that you can't include everything in an article. Choices have to be made and we rely on other articles to which we may link to complete the picture, but the parochialism and ignorance of the barest outline of issues beyond a fleeting glance at the Bible, Augustine and Aquinas makes this article unacceptable.Comsources (talk) 20:57, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Section on Protestant Ethics is Polemical and Ill-informed.[edit]

The section on Protestant ethics is not up to scholarly standards. It is too vague and has claims that are unsupportable. For example, it is simply historically wrong that for Protestant ethics all authority resides with the solitary individual and his or her private interpretation of the Bible. That judgment is a polemical caricature of Protestant thought. It sounds like a bad memory from Catholic School in the 1950s. "With the rejection of the Church's teaching authority" is a polemical, biased statement. Is there only one Church "teaching authority?" Protestants would find that view parochial, at best.

"Protestant ethics" has to do with three great streams of Protestant ecclesiastical and theological development out of the 16th Century European Reformation: Lutheran, Reformed, and Anabaptist. Add to those three continental European streams the Anglican stream out of the United Kingdom, containing within itself both "Protestant" and "Catholic forms." And still further, out of Anglicanism the Wesleyan Churches develop in the UK and the US.

Complicating the picture further is the development-- first in the United States and the United Kingdom and spreading rapidly to Europe and around the world-- of "Evangelical" or "Conservative-Evangelical ethics" (distinct from Lutheran, which is also called "evangelical"). Arising out of Anabaptist and Reformed traditions, "Evangelical ethics" moved from being an ethic of personal conduct rooted in an idea of holiness (separateness from the sinful world) and moral purity to addressing some of the social concerns of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Early forms of what is today called "Evangelical ethics," however, had already opposed slavery, promoted women's rights, and even supported the newly emerging labor movement1. Some mention might be made of perhaps the fastest growing Christian phenomenon: "Pentecostalism," or spirit movements, as well as syncretistic movements (esp. in China and Africa). Whether "Pentecostalism", spirit and syncretist movements can be properly considered "Protestant" is an open question since they tend not to refer to the 16th Century Reformation as part of their identities, and may as easily have Roman Catholic immediate backgrounds as Protestant. That stream should perhaps have a section of its own.

All of these streams-- Lutheran, Reformed, Anabaptist, Anglican, Wesleyan and Evangelical-- spread around the world and developed new ecclesiastical and theological forms in response to the concrete specificities of their location (culture, religion, colonialism, liberation movements, ethnic conflict, dictatorship, poverty, And for all their differences, one stream from another, there were tributaries that tended to connect even rival theological traditions, especially on issues of practical and public life, notably German Lutheran Pietism and its influence on British Reformed and Anabaptist thinkers and later on the emergence of Evangelicalism in Scandinavia and the United States. It is in their continuing development of ethical thought and practice that the transplanted Protestant traditions through their many denominations have shown their greatest creativity and deepest motive for ending ecclesiastical divisions.

In the twentieth century, especially in the post-World War 2 period, those great Protestant streams, began to seriously encounter one another in dialogue, debate, and collaboration. The emergence of what Paul Abrecht of the World Council of Churches in the 1960s called "Ecumenical Social Ethics" was itself a product of that Protestant convergence. Ecumenical Social Ethics is a form of "Protestant Ethics" that working collaboratively across denominational and confessional lines attempts to address the global issues of war, social and economic justice between and within nations, the environment, and human and civil rights. While much of the development of this new ethical debate occurred in and through the World Council of Churches, especially its section on "Church and Society" headed for most of its history by Paul Abrecht, there were many other venues, as well: national, state, and regional councils of churches, universities, and theological seminaries. During this post-war period Protestant theological seminaries began to create teaching positions and graduate programs in the new academic discipline of "Christian Ethics."

The giants of this period who shaped the self-understanding and agenda of many, if not most of the major seminary ethics programs in North America were the brothers H. Richard Niebuhr (Yale University, New Haven, CT) and Reinhold Niebuhr (Union Theological Seminary, NY, NY) Both the Niebuhrs were engaged in the growing ecumenical movement, both domestically in the US National Council of Churches, and internationally in the World Council of Churches. In fact, it was Reinhold Niebuhr who recommended that Paul Abrecht, one of his graduate students, himself a Baptist pastor and economist, take the post of the newly developing WCC program on "Christian Action." Thus, Protestant Ethics as taught in the mainline seminaries was almost from the beginning connected to the international ecumenical dialogue of ethics, understood at the time as promoting the "Responsible Society." The development of the academic discipline "Christian Ethics," which mostly meant "Protestant Ethics" in the mainline theological schools, was primarily ecumenical, social, and international, as many of its professors were students of H. Richard and Reinhold. What was important, from an historical point of view, was that this new form of Protestant ethics --in seminaries, ecumenical organizations, and denominational programs-- took shape under the press of world events, themselves understood as sources of normative inquiry and deliberation and not strictly out of the traditional bases within the theological traditions themselves.

It must also be added that the new ecumenical ethical debate that began to develop in the World Council of Churches, as well as the many national and regional councils of churches, was not a strictly Protestant enterprise. While the Roman Catholic Church had some institutional official involvement after Vatican 2-- but ended by Pope John Paul 2-- with the WCC's developing discussion of social ethics, the Catholic involvement was limited. It's contribution to the ecumenical discussion (at least after the pulling back of Catholic participation in joint Catholic-Protestant programs) was primarily through informal contacts of Catholic moral theologians with their Protestant counterparts in university religion departments and various venues of ethical discussion such as the Society of Christian Ethics and through journal publications in ethics around the world.

However, a significant voice in the development of international ecumenical social ethics was that of the Orthodox Churches. Eastern Orthodox Churches were involved with Protestant Churches from the beginning of the Ecumenical Movement at the turn of the 19th to the 20th Century. The Orthodox Churches helped to found and shape the World Council of Churches that was officially created in 1948. In fact, at the end of World War 2, the Orthodox Churches had millions of their adherents in Communist-controlled countries. For the most part, the Orthodox Churches in Communist-controlled countries were oppressed, attacked, marginalized, and sometimes compromised. This reality of ongoing oppression gave a dose of reality to what might have been simply academic debates among theologians and ethicists who were instrumental in the development of ecumenical social ethics. However, the Orthodox Churches have not always been pleased with the direction of the Protestant-dominated ecumenical social ethics. They began to voice their criticisms in the 1970's, charging that the WCC-led ecumenical social ethics was undermining its own Christian theological foundations and had become overly influenced by secular Western ideologies. This Orthodox criticism has created an interesting new ecumenical connection with an unlikely partner, for it was similar to the critiques raised by Conservative Evangelicals (discussed below), and has since yielded extraordinary dialogues and cooperation between the two on both ethical and ecclesiological issues.

Most often the results of Protestant moral deliberation in an ecumenical framework appeared not first or primarily in works of private scholarship, but in reports written for ecumenical working groups devoted to special topics. This "ecumenical study method" was developed by the Scottish Protestant missionary-theologian, J. H. Oldham, in response to the world crisis at the end of World War 1. Experts from around the world were asked to examine issues of moral and theological importance facing global humanity, write papers analyzing issues such as "nationalism" or "economic life" or "piracy on the high seas" and deliver them to an international ecumenical conference. The ecumenical conferences would use these individual studies as the basis for extensive dialogue and debate across national, ethnic, and religious-confessional lines as a means of hammering out statements to the churches and the world on matters of great moral urgency. The process originated by Oldham and developed and refined by Abrecht has continued to develop as it has tackled new issues of climate change, threats to the environment, human rights and tyranny, human trafficking, ethics in science and technology, immigration, global finance and many other concrete issues of global life.2

The preposterous statement of the writer of the section on Protestant Ethics that Protestant ethics is private and individualistic reveals the author's complete ignorance of Protestant ethical thought from its inception in the work of Martin Luther "Treatise on Good Works"(1520),"The Freedom of a Christian"(1520), "Address To the German Nobility" (1520), "An Ordinance of a Common Chest" (1523), and "To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany" (1524) to the latest issue of "Sojourners Magazine". I use these two examples, almost 500 years apart, for two reasons: 1. because the author implies that Luther, on the one hand, and Evangelicals on the other, have no authority but private opinions about the Bible to guide them, and 2, to demonstrate that the dominant character of Protestant ethics is NOT individual good deeds or private individual interpretation of the Bible, but concern for the whole community and the responsibility of secular authorities to provide justice. I could just as easily have pointed to John Calvin and the Reformed Churches tradition and to the lengthy tradition of social ethical thought in Anglicanism, or to the Anabaptist movements whose ethical teachings, especially around issues of non-violence, pacifism, and non-cooperation with governmental power are central to their very identity. Not to mention the historic Black Churches in the United States shaped by slavery, oppression, and racism, themselves standing in the great streams of Anabaptist, Anglican, Wesleyan, and Holiness traditions.

Assuming the moral and theological legitimacy of historical circumstances as sources of and starting points for Christian ethics has not been without severe criticism from more conservative Protestants,3 especially, but not limited to those from the Evangelical tradition. The argument against this new Protestant ethics ("Ecumenical Social Ethics") is that its moral deliberation and pronouncements are derived from secular and ideological interpretations of society and history rather than from properly theological sources within the Christian tradition, itself. This critique of the new turn in ecumenical protestant ethics argued that the proper sources for moral deliberation are instead found in the Bible or the historic Confessions and Creeds, and the tradition of their interpretation in ecclesiastical and theological history, or in the great stream of official teaching and papal encyclicals from the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. This critique of the new ecumenical social ethics argued that the task of ethics is to take the theological-moral insight of faith and apply it to world problems, not try to generate ethics from the problems themselves. By the second decade of the 21st Century, however, this critique has lost many of its supporters in the Evangelical camp that had provided much of the opposition to ecumenical social ethics. It has been left primarily to fundamentalists-- both Protestant and Roman Catholics-- and right-wing movements that have allied themselves with fundamentalists, while important representatives of the Evangelical stream have taken their places in the Protestant ecumenical dialogue on ethics.4

Confronting such concerns ecumenically did not eliminate the distinctive theological commitments and foundations of the great Protestant traditions. Lutheran and Reformed ethicists still debated the "uses of the Law" in the formation of ethical judgments, but they often arrived at similar positions when it came to action in the world. For example, Lutheran, Anglican, and Reformed theologians disagreed about foundations, but all spoke out and worked against apartheid in South Africa, the nuclear arms race between the former Soviet Union and the United States and its European allies in NATO, world poverty, and social injustice.

The classic "Protestant" debates of the 16th Century, that this current article assumes, have not been simply set aside by ecumenical social ethics, but have been included, built upon, and transcended. In a way, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the only mention of post 16th Century Protestant thought and life, was at the beginning of this new ecumenical development. Bonhoeffer, a Lutheran, was influenced by Karl Barth, a Reformed theologian and developed an ethic that is not alien to either Lutheran or Reformed ethics, and is himself recognized as a saint in the Anglican calendar. And important Evangelical theologians and ethicists have been influenced by Bonhoeffer, as well.5

I would hope that an article on "Christian Ethics" would eschew the misinformed but subtle name-calling of the current article and include some of the richness of "Protestant Ethics" that I have highlighted here.

1. Donald Dayton, Discovering an Evangelical Heritage
2. J. Philip Wogaman, Christian Ethics: A Historical Introduction
3. [Paul Ramsey], Who Speaks for the Church
4. e.g. Ron Sider, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger; Stephen C. Mott, A Christian Perspective on Political Thought; The Evangelical Environmental Network; Evangelicals for Social Action;
5. David P. Gushee, Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Evangelical Moment in American Public Life
Comsources (talk) 20:58, 2 February 2010 (UTC)


This article badly needs inline citations to reliable sources. In some cases, it may actually be better to remove the unsourced material, as noted by others above. If you watch this article, please consider improving it—ideally by citing the material already in it. --Airborne84 (talk) 03:50, 25 December 2011 (UTC)


I think giving such substantive credibility to Dr. Blackburns musings in a book of 130 pages called "Ethics; A very short intoduction" is problematic. Firstly, the criticisms seem quite patently unfair. In both sections labeling Jesus as "racist" the verse cited gives credence to the claim only if read out of context of the rest of the chapter (Jesus testing the womans faith and then granting her relief for her faith). Likewise the claims of Anderson in a "handbook on Athiesm" seem to me far more based on Athiest ethic and wanton misrepresentation of biblical verses than a valid criticism of Christian ethic. I think better sources should be selected for this section, as the ones there currently are rather petty and for the most part, intentionally deceptive. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:11, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

The sources listed meet Wikipedia's requirement as reliable sources. As for the "unfair" part, Wikipedia represents verifiability, not necessarily "truth". I'd suggest that a better way to improve this article would be to provide references for the other sections, which feature nearly no secondary sources. --Airborne84 (talk) 13:35, 2 February 2012 (UTC)

Criticism of Christianity itself based on Christian history[edit]

Bertrand Russell is not offering a criticism of Christian ethics per se, but rather a criticism of historical Christian behavior, it is a criticism of Christian history-- or to be more presice-- it is a criticism of Christianity itself based on Christian history.

While ethics concerns behavior, many things concern behavior; history also concerns behavior.

Ethics (also known as moral philosophy) involves recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Like all people, "Christians" have done things in history that do not necessarily match or even relate to Christianity's recommended concepts of right and wrong behavior. While I am sure that Bertrand Russell has said many things that are criticisms of Christian ethics, this is not one of them. Maybe you want to look for a different quote. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 08:44, 4 February 2012 (UTC)

As far as the Bertrand Russell passage he was talking about Christian morals I don't think he used the word ethics in that particular work. But many writers specifically note that they do not differentiate between the two, such as Peter Singer in Practial Ethics.
I propose that, since we disagree, we enlist the advice of some other editors here. I suspect that, before coming to an agreement, we will have to agree on a definition of ethics. Thanks. --Airborne84 (talk) 15:00, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
We have other places here on Wikipedia to criticize Christian behavior and criticize Biblical ethics.
Now if you want to propose changing the article into one on Christian behavior, then I will point out it is too unwieldy a topic to make out of this, but I will not stop you from making such a formal proposal. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 03:41, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Please don't move other editors comments on talk pages, as the original intended context may be lost. Thanks.
Although I already answered below, some of the points you make here are fair. Here is what I propose. I will look again at the sources to see if they are most clearly criticizing Christian Ethics, or Christianity itself, (or simply the Bible). If, as I remember, they are focused on Christian morals and ethics, I will clarify that in the article here. If the link the authors are making seems to point more to the other articles, I will move the relevant passages. Agreed?
It may take a couple of days to do this. --Airborne84 (talk) 17:44, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Since clarifing coments on on Christian morals and ethics would rewrite said parts of the article anyhow, I propose they should be just removed, and then we can add text back in in a few days once the text addresses the article topic. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 12:39, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
I suggest that the burden of proof is on someone suggesting that passages from a book called "Ethics" are not about Ethics. Again, I don't mind going into the book(s) and pulling out a sourced sentence or two that clearly establish the link. There is no need to delete the passages in the meantime for the reason I mentioned. --Airborne84 (talk) 20:05, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
Wikipedia operates on a WP:Consensus system, not a trial system. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 20:31, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Criticism of Christianity itself based on the Old Testament[edit]

I reverted the edits you made. Perhaps you could point to the specific passages you disagree with. For example, did you object to the biblical passages because they are not apparently linked to Christian Ethics? If so, I can add sourced passages from the original works clarifying that the authors are talking about Christian Ethics when they use these passages. Perhaps that was not clear before. Just let me know. --Airborne84 (talk) 15:00, 4 February 2012 (UTC)
Just because the authors you quote say they are-- or even if they really think they are-- discussing "Christian ethics" doesn't mean that they really are. The items are is only dealing with Biblical ethics and are off topic here. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 03:41, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Please see Wikipedia's policy on verifiability, where it notes that Wikipedia represents verifiability, not truth. If the authors are reliable sources under Wikipedia's policies and they are talking about Christian ethics, the material can be captured here. --Airborne84 (talk) 17:35, 5 February 2012 (UTC)

We've done Bold and Revert, now it's time to Discuss. (See WP:BRD). Editor2020 (talk) 16:20, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Right. You did bold. I reverted. Then it's time to discuss. Carlaude, It's not WP:BRD-and-then-revert-again. That is not the best way to get results here.
Please undo your removal of properly sourced material that is related to this topic. Then, I will discuss IAW Wikipedia's policies. If you'd prefer not to, I'll ask an administrator to intervene until we can sort it out through discussion. Thanks.
Per verifiability of ethics... Airborne84 you have not verified anything yet. You have just said that you can post more from such sources in an effort to do so. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 20:27, 6 February 2012 (UTC)


And Editor2020, I thought you would simply join in the discussion. Please read through the above and feel free to do so. --Airborne84 (talk) 20:01, 6 February 2012 (UTC)
I think Editor2020's point is that you reverted his edits but made no comments as to why. We can not discuss things that are a mystry to us (your reasons). I think many or all of his edits are unrealted to the edits I made and your comments on them. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 20:27, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

Of course I would prefer that my latest version be used, but Airbourne84 is well within his rights under WP:BRD to revert my edits to the status quo ante, which reflected the existing WP:CONSENSUS.

I tried to retain all of the New Testament information in this article, as I think it is relevant to the subject, while moving the Old Testament material to Ethics in the Bible and providing the reader with an easily accessible wikilink there, as I don't think that is relevant. I think my version retains the gist of the argument, while being more direct and clearer to the reader.

But I think the more important issue is to improve the rest of the article, by providing a referenced definition for Christian ethics, references for all the rest of the unreferenced claims and expanding on the material we now have. I don't wish to get involved in an edit war, so Airborne84, please do as you wish. Editor2020 (talk) 22:40, 6 February 2012 (UTC)

I also have no desire to get into an edit war. So I won't. Since Carlaude's re-revert violates WP:BRD, and he/she is obviously not planning on reverting, I'll bring it to the attention of an administrator for adjudication. And Carlaude, my point to you is that being confrontational is not the best way to get results here on Wikipedia—at least in my opinion.
Editor2020, I apologize for the apparent lack of explanation of my revert as part of WP:BRD. I thought that referring you to the last few threads on the talk page would explain my objections to removing the material in the sense of it not being related to "Christian Ethics". My objection to removing the Old Testament material is that the authors (as I recall) pointed to that material specifically as a criticism of Christian Ethics. I understand why they did, but there is no need for me to explain the link, and we all know that's not the purpose of this talk page. Whether we, as Wikipedia editors personally feel that their opinions are misguided or not is irrelevant. What matters is that the material is from a properly referenced source that fulfils the requirements of WP:V. As I mentioned to Carlaude, I planned to go back to the sources and verify that they are specifically making the link to Christian Ethics. I know Blackburn does (Ethics is central to his book), but it will take me a couple of days to check them all again. --Airborne84 (talk) 01:50, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
I will agree that the current passages from Blackburn can be considered about ethics, Biblical ethics, as I have already pointed out.
Let me ask you this. Does Blackburn cite any principles of ethics from a text on Christian Ethics when he makes this criticism? şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 05:20, 7 February 2012 (UTC)
Blackburn discusses Ethics related to various religious groups, including Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity in a section of his book. In the portion where he discusses Christianity, he points to the Old and New Testament, as well as other secondary sources, such as Nietsche, who also criticize Christian ethics and morals.
For the sake of discussion the opening sentence in the lede says, "Christian ethics is a topic of Christian theology that recommends concepts of right and wrong behavior from a Christian perspective." One of those ethical foundations is the Ten Commandments from the Old Testament. (On a side note, the sentence might be reworded since it's not clear how a "topic...recommends").
Some observers, including those I added, criticise the fact that Christians use the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament/New Testament passages as ethical guidelines today. Yes, the same argument could be transferred to Judaism and the Bible in general. What is important about the Blackburn passages(and the others that I have not re-dug into) is that he relates these passages to Christianity.
You could certainly make a valid argument that those passages fit into an article on Biblical Ethics. That argument would not preclude their use here in light of how Blackburn describes his discussion. --Airborne84 (talk) 21:03, 7 February 2012 (UTC)

You have a point there. If Christians claim an Old Testament basis for their ethics, then that would make the OT relevant to a discussion of Christian ethics. I might have to take another look at that. Editor2020 (talk) 05:20, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

This view requires a WP:RS that calls the Old Testament a basis for Christian ethics, and an important basis for Christian ethics. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 08:32, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Only what is explicitly renewed from the Old Testament can can be considered part of the New Testament "law of Christ" (cf. Gal 6:2). Included in such a category would be the Ten Commandments, since they are cited in various ways in the New Testament as still binding on Christians (see Matt. 5:21-37; John 7:23), and the two great commandments from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. No other specific Old Testament laws can be shown to be strictly binding on Christians, valuable as it is for Christian to know these laws. Fee, Gordon and Stuart, Douglas (2003). How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Zondervan. pp. 169. ISBN 0310246040.

"This view requires a WP:RS that calls the Old Testament a basis for Christian ethics." Yes, that's true. And I added them to the article. They were removed.
Again, if an author such as Dr. Blackburn points to the Old Testament in a discussion about Christian Ethics, those passages are relevant here. It seems as if you're saying that if a reliable source says "I am now talking about Christian Ethics: let me point to the Old and New Testament as part of the discussion," that there is something else needed for that discussion to be included in this article. That is a view that is not in line with Wikipedia policies. I think Editor2020 sees this. If there are continued objections that fall outside the realm of what we do here at Wikipedia, perhaps an RfC is the best way to go. I don't think it is necessary yet, as I'm sure this should be fairly clear. Thanks. --Airborne84 (talk) 14:20, 8 February 2012 (UTC)
You aren't really claiming that Blackburn is a WP:RS on Christian ethics are you? That would be really silly. Has Blackburn ever written a book on Christian ethics? or even read one? Just look at the table of contents of any book on Christian ethics. Like this article, they start with Jesus and work forward. They don't start with the Old Testament and then end with Jesus. Attacking Biblical ethics and implying it is about Christian ethics is called "attacking a straw man." şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 06:10, 9 February 2012 (UTC)
Your opinion is noted Carlaude. Try doing a Google search for "Old Testament Christian Ethics". It's enlightening. --Airborne84 (talk) 13:02, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Change to lead[edit]

I changed "topic" to "branch", copying what is at Ethics. I am beginning to think that Christian theology should be changed to Christian philosophy, as ethics is a branch of philosophy, not theology. Editor2020 (talk) 05:13, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

It is an important part of Christian theology books and courses, so it is really a branch of Christian theology and Christian philosophy. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 08:34, 8 February 2012 (UTC)

Old Testament section[edit]

Although more time consuming for me, this issue seems to easy to resolve. The first two books I looked at that focus specifically on this topic clearly point to the Old Testament as one of the foundations of Christian Ethics. I added a few passages from one to the article. I'll add some more material from Christian Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by D. Stephen Long and published by the Oxford University Press. For example, "Christian ethics finds its source in diverse means, but it primarily emerges from the biblical narrative and especially the call of Abraham and Sarah, etc....These sources were essential for the emergence of Christian ethics...Without it, Christian ethics would be unintelligible." And later, "Christian ethics arises from the calling of Abraham, which is found in Genesis 12." There is further and lengthy discussion about "The Noahic covenant", other elements of the Books of Genesis and Exodus, the Ten Commandments, and 613 other commandments that guide behavior in the OT, among others. Discussions surrounding Jesus appear also in a later chapter. But "Christian Ethics" does not start with him in this book.

I think that should establish the link fairly clearly between the Old Testament and Christian Ethics IAW Wikipedia policies.--Airborne84 (talk) 19:12, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

I believe that the link between the Old Testament and Christian ethics has been adequately established IAW Wikipedia's requirements. If there are no further objections, I will reinstate the passages from the criticism section that related to the Old Testament. The passage from Bertrand Russell is another matter, so I will omit that until its relevancy is agreed on through discussion. --Airborne84 (talk) 03:47, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I can look over the book, but it seems very much that Long only finds a few passages that-- even to him-- that relate to Christian ethics. Since you don't want to quote any passages to illuminate how the call of Abraham could be "essential for the emergence of Christian ethics", the quote to only claim that it is "essential..." does not serve much purpose.
I am sure Long does discuss the Noahic covenant, the Ten Commandments, and the "613 commandments." But so does the book I quoted that points out that no specific Old Testament laws are part of Christian ethics unless they are explicitly renewed in the New Testament. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 08:14, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
"Since you don't want to quote any passages..." Please assume good faith. You had only to ask. And it does serve a purpose: it addresses your assertion that the addition of Blackburn's passages would first require the following: "This view requires a WP:RS that calls the Old Testament a basis for Christian ethics, and an important basis for Christian ethics." In your own words, I have now provided two reliable sources that clearly fulfill the criteria you stated. You didn't say they should say how, and neither do Wikipedia's policies require that. So, I chose to be concise.
On a side note, Long's chapter on the "Sources of Christian Ethics" is 39 pages long. Jesus appears in the last seven pages. The rest of the chapter is Old Testament material.
And I offered two references—not just Long. Besides specifically stating it in various places, Old Testament passages and themes are seen throughout the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics. This is obviously not an idiosynchratic position.
Lastly, your final point does not preclude inclusion of criticism based on the Old Testament. One source does not cancel another out here at Wikipedia. I'm sure you know this already. Both are included, if they come from reliable sources and are notable. Thus, both ideas can exist in this article. Besides, your reference uses the word "laws". Laws do not comprise ethics in their entirety. Stories, vignettes, guidelines, etc. can also inform ethics, as noted throughout the other source I provided. --Airborne84 (talk) 13:00, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
Anyway, the above is an interesting aside. But if there are no objections within Wikipedia's policies to the restoration of the Old Testament criticism passages, I will restore them. --Airborne84 (talk) 13:09, 14 February 2012 (UTC)
I restored the passages. As a side note to Carlaude, if you're going to peruse the Long book and the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics, you might check out some other works as well, such as The Cambridge Companion to Christian Ethics which discusses the Old Testament's influence on Christian Ethics, as well as Bruce C. Birch's Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Christian Life. The chapter in the latter, "Foundations for Christian Ethics in the Old Testament", is of interest. You might also consider reviewing some of the other works at this page. --Airborne84 (talk) 03:04, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Okay please tell us how Long sees the call of Abraham could as "essential for the emergence of Christian ethics". Thank you.
Also, please note that calling the call of Abraham could as "essential for the emergence of Christian ethics"
  • does not clearly calls the Old Testament an important basis for Christian ethics
  • does not clearly calls the Old Testament a basis for Christian ethics
  • does not call the Old Testament a basis for Christian ethics
  • and does not even call the call of Abraham a basis for Christian ethics
Now I do not even know which of the many quotes Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics you think supports your ends, but if you think there is one please point it out. In your own words, you are not even close. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 08:11, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
Sorry, but at this point I'd simply prefer to hear what other editor have to say. Your "requirements" were and are beyond what Wikipedia requires, IMO. --Airborne84 (talk) 11:57, 15 February 2012 (UTC)
FYI, I've listed this disagreement at Wikipedia:Third_opinion#Active_disagreements --Airborne84 (talk) 13:15, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── As far as I'm concerned, you've established enough of a connection to include the OT. Editor2020 (talk)

All right. Carlaude established the precedent here that 2 vs. 1 = consensus, but I'll wait to see if anyone from the "Third Opinion" page weighs in before the six days runs out. If not, I'll restore the passages as per the new consensus. Thanks. --Airborne84 (talk) 21:38, 16 February 2012 (UTC)

Third opinion[edit]

Czarkoff (talk · contribs) wants to offer a third opinion. To assist with the process, editors are requested to summarize the dispute in a short sentence below.

Viewpoint by Airborne84
Criticism of Old Testament ideas and passages by reliable sources IAW Wikiepdia's standards, (e.g., Dr. Simon Blackburn in his OUP-published book Ethics, A Very Short Introduction), are relevant at this article in the "criticism" section.
An objection was raised by Carlaude that Christian ethics does not draw on the Old Testament because Christian ethics starts with the New Testament. Thus, criticism pointing to the Old Testament did not belong in this article. I added additional material in the lede of the article and added the section called "The Bible and Christian Ethics" with sourced material to clearly show the link between Old Testament scripture and Christian ethics as noted by reliable sources. There are now further objections by Carlaude that go beyond beyond what Wikipedia requires. My assertion is that (1) there is no requirement to establish a link in the first place; if a reliable source criticises Old Testament material and ideas while discussing Christian ethics, that is sufficient to include in the section here called "Criticism of Christian Ethics," and (2) that aside, I clearly established the link as per reliable sources anyway. IMO, there should be no further objection within Wikipedia's policies to the restoration of these passages. --Airborne84 (talk) 16:58, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
Viewpoint by Carlaude
  • Since I consider Airborne84's viewpoint too vauge and ill-informed, I want for his to be posted first. His purpose seems only to show any kind of link he can between the "Old Testament" and "Christian ethics" so as to justify insertion of texts that criticize Biblical ethics (of Old Testament), really just certain parts of the Old Testament, as this is done so as to a attack a straw man, an informal fallacy, as he implies here that Old Testament Biblical ethics are Christian ethics and/or a part of Christian ethics.
  • To be sure, some Old Testament ethics are renewed in the New Testament and are thus part of Christian ethics. But as anyone with even a very basic familiarity with the Old Testament (such as just one high school level class on the OT), or even basic familiarity with the New Testament, can tell you, there are many Old Testament expectations that are not part of Christian ethics. In fact, all of the criticized practices from the OT are those not part of Christian ethics. Some criticized practices were not even part of the Old Testament expections. Many stories are and always have been negative examples of Biblical ethics.
  • You will find that authors, even in books on Christian ethics, rarely state clearly what they consider to be the exact relationship between the Old Testament and Christian ethics (as Fee & Stuart do, see below). I also agree that the relationship is somewhat complex. Yet the professors of the Old Testament still need to pay their bills, and so they emphasize any connection between the Old Testament and Christian ethics that there is, so as to sell any books that they write. Not everyone agrees, either, when there is a clear statement made (all the more reason to be careful).
  • Per Fee & Stuart, only Old Testament imperitives that are explicitly repeated in the New Testament can can be considered part of the Christian ethics.

Only what is explicitly renewed from the Old Testament can be considered part of the New Testament "law of Christ" (cf. Gal 6:2). Included in such a category would be the Ten Commandments, since they are cited in various ways in the New Testament as still binding on Christians (see Matt. 5:21-37; John 7:23), and the two great commandments from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18. No other specific Old Testament laws can be shown to be strictly binding on Christians, valuable as it is for Christians to know these laws. Fee, Gordon and Stuart, Douglas (2003). How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. Zondervan. pp. 169. ISBN 0310246040.

  • Even Fee and Stuart would technically agree that the OT is a "basis for Christian ethics," since it is inspired by God. For example,they point out that the immediate OT context of the few commands that are renewed in the NT (such as Leviticus 19:18) can help us understand and apply those few commands. Relying on a dictionary on Chistian ethics that can only call the Bible (as a whole) the basis for Christian ethics is almost damning the usefulness of the Old Testament with faint praise. It is a bland, uncontroversial way to say something that seems to include the OT as important to the subject.
  • This Wikipedia needs to cover all of Christian ethics, especially current Christian ethics, not just what has been called "a basis for Christian ethics." Christian ethics today is informed by many, many Christian writers that discuss earlier Christian writers, both since the Bible, and from the Bible. All these writers (hundreds, thousands) are potentionaly a basis for Christian ethics, but not all will be important enough to discuss in one encyclopedia article on the subject.
  • Note that no one here has found information on how OT ethics are part of Christian ethics to Christians (as opposed to it critics), and made from it an "Old Testament" section for this Wikipedia article.
  • Even if Airborne84 or someone else found more RSs that address the question clearly (and he hasn't), and together our RSs showed that parts of the Old Testament are part of Christian ethics in a way that is clear, clear enough to make the OT worth writing about in the article, then that would still be the limit (at most) on what would be worthy criticism of Christian ethics from the OT. For example, a RS might say that one of the Seven Laws of Noah (a) is a basis for part of Christian ethics, (b) is not shown to be renewed in the NT, and (c) apply it to the Christian view of abortion. If so then the OT Seven Laws of Noah (or at least that one law) could be important enough for the criticism section to address it. But currently the article does not even address the Christian view of abortion, or other such issues, to begin with. Currently the only part of the OT noted is the call of Abram (without a hint of how or why), but the OT criticism section would only criticize other some of the parts of the OT. şṗøʀĸşṗøʀĸ: τᴀʟĸ 00:58, 19 February 2012 (UTC)
Third opinion by Czarkoff
As I currently see it, the question is mostly about the subject of the "Christian ethics" discipline. As long as we stick with the "The Bible is the universal and fundamental source of specifically Christian ethics" quote from the lead as a commonly accepted view, the position of Carlaude (as I understand it), becomes the violation of WP:NPOV; if this quote is wrong, the situation answer is the opposite. Thus, as I see it, this discussion should focus on the question "What is the primary source of knowledge about the christian ethics?", and once this question is answered, no room for this argument is left. — Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talk) 17:42, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
So, after hearing from Carlaude I am pretty sure that my initial apprehension of the argument was pretty correct. Indeed, this article shouldn't dismiss the numerous changes the christian ethics has gone through since the creation of Old Testament and up to these days. Thus, unless christian ethic dismisses Bible as a source of knowledge, the referenced critics of any single word of the Bible (including any single word of the Old Testament) is an unavoidable part of this article. If any further comment on this argument is required, please notice my via my talk page.Dmitrij D. Czarkoff (talk) 02:12, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Further discussion[edit]

Reliable sources point to a variety of sources for Christian ethics. However, the Old Testament is certainly one of them: the OUP-published book Christian Ethics: A Very Short Introduction by D. Stephen Long highlights this. For example, Long states that "Christian ethics finds its source in diverse means, but it primarily emerges from the biblical narrative and especially the call of Abraham and Sarah, [etc.]....These sources were essential for the emergence of Christian ethics...Without it, Christian ethics would be unintelligible." And later, "Christian ethics arises from the calling of Abraham, which is found in Genesis 12."
There are also a variety of works that discuss the Old Testament foundation for Christian ethics. For example, the Westminster Dictionary of Christian Ethics discusses Old Testament vignettes and ideas throughout its entries; The Cambridge Companion to Christian Ethics discusses the Old Testament's influence on Christian Ethics; and another useful work in this discussion is Bruce C. Birch's Let Justice Roll Down: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Christian Life. "Foundations for Christian Ethics in the Old Testament" is a relevant chapter in the latter book.
I might also note that a second editor who originally sided with Carlaude's position (Editor2020), reversed his/her stance when I added the sourced passages in the article establishing the link between the Old Testament and Christian ethics. Editor2020's last statement above was, "As far as I'm concerned, you've established enough of a connection to include the OT." However, I thought it would be reasonable to let the Third Opinion request run its course. Thanks for taking it on. --Airborne84 (talk) 20:10, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
And, if I might, the question (to me, anyway) appears to need only be, "Is the Old Testament one of the sources of Christian ethics?" A previous (and unsourced) definition in the lede stated that Christian ethics generally started with Jesus and his story in the New Testament. I replaced that with the sourced material in the lede. The answer to the question I propose then seems fairly clear, and that should be sufficient to merit inclusion here, it seems. --Airborne84 (talk) 20:23, 18 February 2012 (UTC)

Ethics in the Bible, off-topic[edit]

You seem to think that (certain atheists' views on the) ethics in the Bible is the same as Christian ethics. This section of criticism of (perceived) ethics in the Bible is off-topic. While these two would overlap in many cases, the "ethics" chosen to be herein criticized are 90% or more different from Christian ethics.

For example, people today-- Christians or otherwise-- do not go around seeking to burn witches. That some did in the past is an issue of history-- and could be added to a criticism section of the article Christianity in the 17th century, or even to a Criticism of Christianity article, but it would still be off topic in this article. tahc chat 19:59, 18 August 2014 (UTC)

The criticism section reflects the current consensus that it is not off-topic. As far as the link between the criticism section and the Bible regarding Christian ethics, I invite you to read through the above. I asked a third party to arbitrate on this discussion as well.
I am also unclear as to why you appear to suggest in your second paragraph that this article should only focus on a current snapshot of "Christian Ethics" (as difficult as that would be). This article provides coverage of Christian ethics, past and present. The third paragraph of the article's lede talks about the origins of Christian ethics in history, and the first section is a discussion about the early church and Christian ethics. There is no reason why any tenet of Christian ethics since it's inception should be excluded.
Also, people today do go around accusing others of being "witches". And they do kill them. You can read about this on Wikipedia (in more than one place) or just do an online search. Here is an article that provides a link between churches in Africa and "witchcraft belief". There are more; you just have to look.
But that is just an aside. Let me assure you that I do understand your point, but the link between the Bible and Christian Ethics has been clearly established by reliable sources as noted in the article itself as well as above, and it has been accepted here by consensus in light of that. Thanks for your interest. Airborne84 (talk) 19:36, 19 August 2014 (UTC)
Since the current consensus, arrived at above, supports the inclusion of any part of the Bible in relation to Christian Ethics, I've removed the "off topic" tag. Airborne84 (talk) 18:40, 3 October 2014 (UTC)


The article's lede does not adequately summarize the article. That's why there's a tag on it. There is criticism listed in the article but it is not summarized in the lede. WP:LEDE says "The lead section should briefly summarize the most important points covered in an article in such a way that it can stand on its own as a concise version of the article."

I made an attempt to improve the lede by repeating one of the quotes in the criticism section. It certainly wasn't sufficient to remove the tag, but it was a start. I thought perhaps other editors would consider making additions or adjustments to refine it or better summarize the criticism and thus the tag could be removed. However, what I added was simply removed and the edit summary stated that it was "undo weight, fridge, and ridiculous". I assume that is meant to be "undue weight" and "fringe" as I am not aware of a policy on fridges.

I'm not going to address the edit summary. And I really don't care how the criticism is summarized. But the tag remains, so simply removing an attempt to improve the lede is not constructive. I welcome comments. Airborne84 (talk) 08:39, 25 October 2014 (UTC)

Since no one has weighed in here, I decided to try a more abstract approach to summarize in the lede the content that exists in the criticism section of the article. Since this version provides (IMO) a broader summary, I feel that the WP:LEDE tag is no longer appropriate.
Having said that, I'm open to further adjustments. Airborne84 (talk) 19:43, 25 October 2014 (UTC)
Tahc has changed the summary in the lede of "criticism of Christian ethics" to a POV interpretation of the criticism. The summary in the lede must summarize the WP:RS ideas in the criticism section according to WP:LEDE, not represent an editor's interpretation of them. Thus, I have reverted to what seems, at least to me, to be a fairly vanilla summary of the criticism. Airborne84 (talk) 21:40, 31 October 2014 (UTC)