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1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Marilyn J. Legge Seeking "Right Relations": How Should Churches Respond to Aboriginal Voices?
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What moral and spiritual resources do churches have to open space for transforming and making new relations with and among Aboriginal communities? What values best express justice and are cross-culturally appropriate? Who decides on the terms and how? When are moral agency and responsibility aptly configured within unevenly structured relations of power? With special attention to the United Church of Canada and to voices of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women, I explore elements of an ethical framework in dialogue with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. The Commission suggests three roles that religious institutions can play: to foster awareness and understanding; to participate in public discussion; and to advocate at the local level in situations of conflict. On what grounds can each role be adequate in practice and what are some ingredients for ethical guidelines? I suggest what moral agenda and basis might confirm the claims of ecclesial potential.
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Mary Gaebler Luther on the Self
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Luther's emphasis on the sin of pride, as it is confronted by God's justifying work in Christ, has resulted in a theology that has seemed to many to resist a coherent account of human agency. I argue, however, that important aspects of Luther's later theology have been obscured by a tendency to organize the whole of his theology around his important, but not exclusive, insight on justification. There are resources in Luther's later work, I suggest, that respond to important contemporary concerns regarding the problem of passivity. Over time, the increasing failure of alleged Christians to produce "good works" apparently turned Luther's attention more and more to the sin of sloth. Human agency, particularly as it is expressed in the Christian life, became a matter of growing importance for Luther, as indeed, it is for many today. One finds in the mature Luther an increased appreciation of the self, viewed as both valuable and responsible—as capable of agency and as the legitimate focus of theological attention.
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Terence R. Anderson Toward a New and More Just Relationship
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A new relationship between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians is central for Canada's future, but the issues it presents may also be a portent of things to come for us all with increasing globalization. What is entailed in fashioning a viable and just Canadian society and state in which distinct Aboriginal peoples or nations can not only survive and break out of a colonial past, but flourish, especially in an increasingly global economy with its homogenizing pressures? This essay provides an overview of the issues. Following a brief historical survey of the relationship between the Aboriginal peoples and the newcomers in Canada, the political and economic challenges in forming a more just relationship are outlined together with some of the competing visions, social policy options, and current mechanisms for effecting such. Next, some of the pressures on civil society and needed changes this generates are noted. Finally, the religious dimension in all of this, especially the peculiar situation of the churches, is briefly described, including the churches' tainted past, and yet their promising new role emerging as they come to terms with this past and seek to forge new relationships within their own communities.
4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Gene Outka Theocentric Love and the Augustinian Legacy: Honoring Differences and Likenesses between God and Ourselves
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Jesus' teaching that there are two love commandments, that the commandment to love God is the "first and great" one, but that the second commandment to love one's neighbor as oneself is "like" the first, suggest that we should neither blend their features wholly together nor separate their features entirely. This paper supports the suggestion. It considers three central emphases in the Augustinian legacy that specify normative differences, normative ranking, and normative links between the commandments. The emphases are: "God-intoxication," "The Predominance of the Double Love Commandment," and "A Good World Gone Wrong." Such consideration explains and defends the claim that a faithful life honors both differences and points of correspondence between God's action and our own. This study indicates that we can go wrong in distinctive ways, and that we should distinguish "relationality" (that obtains both "before God" and "with one another") and "reciprocity" (that obtains "with one another"). The conclusions reached may inform exchanges with other religious traditions, above all "God-intoxicated" ones. This article was the Presidential Address, given at the annual meeting of the SCE in Vancouver, British Columbia on January 11, 2002.
5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Contributors
6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Kyle Fedler Calvin's Burning Heart: Calvin and the Stoics on the Emotions
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Calvin's ethics is often misconstrued as legalistic, somber, and ascetic. However, such a treatment is simply not consistent with Calvin's deep and abiding concern for the development and display of proper emotional responses in the lives of Christian believers. This paper examines the nature and function of the emotions in Calvin's theological ethics. Pre-figuring modern cognitivist views, Calvin rejects the characterization of the emotions as blind, arational forces. In so doing he displays a generally Stoic vision of the nature of the emotions. They are not simply nonrational forces that "overcome" us, but are integrally related to what we believe and value. Although Calvin largely agrees with the Stoics that the emotions are derivative of our beliefs and values, he explicitly rejects the "iron philosophy" of the Stoic doctrine of apathy (apatheia). Calvin argues strenuously that the emotions are an integral part of the creation of human beings and not simply the result of the Fall. He grounds his arguments for the goodness of the emotions soteriologically, Christologically, and on the doctrine of God. Therefore, where the Stoics called for an elimination of the emotions, Calvin calls for their purification or "sanctification." To this end Calvin argues that believers can and should train their emotions by means of meditation upon the cross of Christ, meditation upon the future life and the spiritual discipline of prayer.
7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Robert P. Jones Cultural Bias and Liberal Neutrality: Reconsidering the Relationship between Religion and Liberalism through the Lens of the Physician-Assisted Suicide Debate
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Liberals often view religion chiefly as "a problem" for democratic discourse in modern pluralistic societies and propose an allegedly neutral solution in the form of philosophical distinctions between "the right" and "the good" or populist invocations of a "right to choose." Drawing on cultural theory and ethnographic research among activists in the Oregon debates over the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, I demonstrate that liberal "neutrality" harbors its own cultural bias, flattens the complexity of public debates, and undermines liberalism's own commitments to equality. I conclude that the praiseworthy liberal goal of impartiality in policy decisions would best be met not by the inaccessible norm of neutrality but by a norm of inclusivity, which intentionally solicits multiple cultural perspectives.
8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
William O'Neill Imagining Otherwise: The Ethics of Social Reconciliation
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In the wake of uncivil strife—of genocide, "ethnic cleansing," apartheid— the prospect of forgiveness seems as elusive as the notion itself. In this paper, I seek to assess the complex factors that render forgiveness or social reconciliation such vexed concepts. For Desmond Tutu's pleas for "confession, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the lives of nations" meet with his fellow Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka's objection that justice is ill "served by discharging the guilty without evidence of mitigation—or remorse." One may, of course, speak of unspeakable suffering; yet tragedy is never given simply. How we remember the Rwandan genocide, the legacy of apartheid, or the Shoah—whether as morally tragic or merely an unimportant political failure—depends upon how we "see" or imagine evil. To remember such suffering, we must first evoke what is effaced, bring to word the transgressed command. Only then can we speak of social reconciliation, forgiveness, or the fitting measures of retribution and reparation. Imagining, remembering, redressing evil—these, I will argue, comprise distinct, yet finally inseparable elements of social reconciliation, each admitting of no less distinct orders of legal-political, ethical, and religious interpretation.
9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
June O'Connor Fostering Forgiveness in the Public Square: How Realistic a Goal?
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It has been proposed in South Africa and other sites that forgiveness is a political necessity if social reconstruction is to be effective following regimes of terror and torture. By placing the spotlight on forgiveness, these claims raise questions about the realism and relevance of forgiveness to public life. This paper interrogates the moral realism of forgiveness in public life by identifying some of its defining features, by comparing it to forgiveness in therapeutic and interpersonal settings, and by examining proposed reasons and motivations for forgiveness in the face of moral atrocities inflicted, tolerated, or ignored by an apartheid governance in South Africa. The author argues that the South African experience displays forgiveness as a realistic, though difficult moral choice, when forgiveness in the public square is construed as a feature of the common good.
10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
George H. Crowell The Power of Monetary Policy: Ethical Insights from Canadian Experience
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As Canadian experience back to the Great Depression reveals, monetary policy can have potent impact on social welfare. Although in recent years Canadian monetary policy has been managed—with little public understanding—for the benefit of wealthy interests, earlier Canadian federal governments, largely through the monetary powers of the Bank of Canada established in 1935, not only financed participation in World War II, but also in the post-war period created the nation's remarkable social programs. Changes in monetary policy beginning in the late 1970s have shifted control over the money system almost entirely to the private commercial banks, and have contributed substantially to severe erosion of those programs. Changes in current monetary policy, shown from past experience to be feasible, could play a key role in financing restoration and improvement of social programs. Some implications for the US and other nations are spelled out.
11. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Christine Gudorf Preface
12. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
John Hart Salmon and Social Ethics: Relational Consciousness in the Web of Life
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People from Native American/First Nation spiritual traditions and from Christian religious backgrounds express sometimes contradictory, sometimes complementary perspectives on humans' role in an interrelated and interdependent "web of life." The extinction of salmon species in the Columbia-Snake river system of Canada and the United States, and the loss of salmon from the Haida Gwaii fisheries off the western coast of Canada, provide bioregional stimuli for reflection on whether nonhuman species have intrinsic value or solely instrumental value, and the extent to which species preservation should have equitable status with, or take precedence over, human wants and apparent human needs. If societal needs and species conservation, and the common good of all creatures, are to be integrated for the good of the commons then a relational consciousness must replace "dominion" and "stewardship" attitudes toward creation.
13. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 22
Howard J. Vogel African Americans and the Right to Self-Determination in a Christian Context
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The domestic legal obstacles to affirmative action to address the problem of the color line that have arisen in the United States in the past 30 years have become the occasion for discouragement and even despair in the face of the persistent racial disparities in American life. This is due, in part, to the limits of our domestic vocabulary for speaking about such initiatives. In this paper I argue that Christian ethics, with the help of the resources of the emergent minority rights dialogue in international human rights, can play an important role in securing the cultural transformation needed to broaden our vocabulary and reframe our thinking so that our efforts to secure racial justice are not bound by the limits of the conventional domestic vocabulary. Specifically, I argue that the new international discussion of "the right to self-determination" can be usefully employed within Christian ethics to secure the cultural, moral and legal changes needed to secure racial justice in the United States.
14. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Preface
15. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Jennifer Beste Receiving and Responding to God's Grace: A Re-examination in Light of Trauma Theory
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Christians have traditionally claimed a kind of invulnerability to harm that would render them incapable of responding to God's grace. This claim to invulnerability will be examined in light of trauma theory's insistence that, in situations of overwhelming violence, a person's capacity for responsive agency can be severely disabled. Drawing from incest survivors' experiences of recovery, I argue that a critical re-examination of the human capacity to receive God's grace must include greater appreciation for how God's love is mediated, at least in part, through loving interpersonal relations. Ethical implications resulting from this insight should challenge our communities in profound ways.
16. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Raymond Kemp Anderson Corporate Selfhood and "Meditatio Vitae Futurae": How Necessary Is Eschatology for Christian Ethics?
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With John Calvin, the Reformed tradition found inseparable linkage between eschatology and ethics. Christians' decision making must include reflection about God's future re-creation of our corporate, corporeal selves, or else individualism or dualism will set in. Meditatio vitae futurae is to figure right alongside of the Creator's past word for us and His present intercourse as Spirit among us. Calvin's three foci here, trinitarian in intent, are Christologically informed. Comprising teleological, deontological, and contextual vectors for ethical consideration, they are to work together as orientational constants—a kind of global positioning system—functioning as faith's response to the triune God. This eschatology becomes a key to puzzles in Calvin's ethics: such as why he is reluctant to prescribe patterns of conduct; why he gives such prominence to Christians' freedom; or again, how his world-weary expressions cohere with his astounding activism. Calvin's letters show how anticipation of our future generates normative challenge, proleptic promise, and much more.
17. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Charles Kimball The Just Peacemaking Paradigm and Middle East Conflicts
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Turmoil in many parts of the predominantly Muslim world is connected both to common themes and specific historical, political, social, and economic circumstances in various countries. While short-term threats may require forceful actions to neutralize violent extremists, the longer-term challenge requires painstaking work in the dense thicket of the particulars present in each situation. The just peacemaking paradigm provides an invaluable framework for addressing constructively the multiple root causes of conflict in the Middle East. This article identifies four specific practices from the just peacemaking theory, practices that provide meaningful ways to build trust, nurture hope, and move intentionally toward a more healthy future.
18. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Andrea Vicini Ethical Issues and Approaches in Stem Cell Research: From International Insights to a Proposal
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In recent years and months, human stem cell research has dominated many scientists' interests, the media, public debate, and social policy. This paper aims to consider, first, the major scientific data on stem cell research that are available. Second, I reflect on them by examining how they shaped policies in Europe and the United States. I also point to current changes in policy-making concerning the creation of ad hoc committees to address this novel issue and how, in a few instances, different ethical positions are part of the documents produced. In other words, diverse approaches are not solved but kept in tension. Finally, I suggest that the current state of research on human stem cell will benefit from an ethics of risk.
19. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
Douglas F. Ottati "Christ and Culture": Still Worth Reading after All These Years
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This essay argues that H. Richard Niebuhr's classic book, Christ and Culture, is best understood as a typology of moral theologies. Each of Niebuhr's five types may be regarded as a patterned resolution of four theological relations: reason and revelation, God and world, sin and goodness, and law and gospel. Many of his evaluative comments reflect his preference for what he calls a transformationist or conversionist pattern. However, it is not difficult to imagine evaluative comments on the several types, including the transformationist one, made from the perspective of a different preferred resolution of the four theological relations. Moreover, Niebuhr's scheme remains useful for analyzing more recent texts in theological ethics, such as Gustavo Gutierrez's A Theology of Liberation. Thus, while the book is not without its flaws and while readers may wish to enter some emendations and revisions, Christ and Culture is still worth reading because the categories it presents for analyzing moral theologies remain unsurpassed in their richness, usefulness, and suggestiveness.
20. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 23 > Issue: 1
D. M. Yeager The View from Somewhere: The Meaning of Method in "Christ and Culture"
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Accepting James Gustafson's recent argument that right reading and valid criticism of H. R. Niebuhr's Christ and Culture must begin with an informed understanding of Niebuhr's utilization of the ideal-typical method, the author reviews characteristics of Weberian typologies and discusses the levels of criticism to which typologies are legitimately subject. Right appreciation of the text's genre exposes many criticisms of Christ and Culture to be misguided, but it also throws into relief those features of the text that cannot be accounted for by that method, revealing the complexity of a text that advances both a comparative descriptive analysis and a bold theological argument. Recognition of this tension prompts the question whether the one so compromises or constrains the other that the enterprise does, indeed, fail as a whole, even though it remains intensely interesting in all its parts.