How ethical is your religion

September 28, 2014 · Posted in Blog 

I sometimes feel that there is a basic divide between Christians. Some see their faith principally as defined by the acceptance of a set of propositions and the main debate in their religion is about what those propositions should exactly be. This could be characterised in terms of whether or not your Christian faith is defined by the “I am the way the truth and the life” quote and the “who do you say I am?” Question. I might, a little unfairly, characterise this as playing the ‘have you got the right ideas in your head?’ game. I am being a little unfair as of course these Christians live a life committed to those ideas and there are all sorts of implications for what that lived life looks like because of those ideas.

Another group see their faith principally in terms of how they are to other people. They see the moral relationships they have with the world around them as the heart of the Christian message. For them, the critical quotes are more likely to be “whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me” and the Good Samaritan parable.

If the first group are centred focussed on whether people do or do not say Jesus is Lord, the second group are focussed on the people who society ignores and need most help. Being good to your neighbour is recognising Christ standing before you. Helping those in need is seeing Christ in them. These are not metaphors. God really is in them. The main debate is, therefore, how to be good.

To have one of these without the other is a problem given the centrality of the social dimension to the gospel and the Christology is the link. Being good to others is recognising the lordship of the other in need and through them, the Christ before you. So I would like to see a Christianity that brings these two together more often.

However, it does mean that there is an interesting question about whether I see Christianity as a moral thing over and above anything else. Being Christ like is about being good and I am with St Paul on the point that faith without love is no use at all. This is how I get to the conclusion that the study of morality and ethics is of primary importance in RE. It is not an add on or an optional extra. The whole edifice of the Church and theology rests on this and is the gateway to it.

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