Persuasive Ethics

Many non-Christians have ethics but are also frightened that we are seeking to impose our strict ethical system upon them, while at the same time being hypocrites ourselves. For that reason, many Christians tend to shy away from ethics when seeking to communicate the gospel. This session looks like we are avoiding the traps of morality and accusations of political power-seeking whilst we are still in the midst of the gospel using the Christian teaching about ethics to communicate Christ. (This talk was first given at FOCL in May 2013

 

Persuasive Music

13 thoughts on “Persuasive Ethics

  1. Thanks David , For a very interesting and entertaining ( the illustrations) lecture in ethics. I did my Christian ethics classes in 1974 and I cannot remember them being half as interesting. One question arising , not an exact quote , “Men are also confused as to their role in the Christian church” please briefly elaborate.

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  2. Dear David,
    A friend send me this list of commandments/ ethics that he says no Bible-believing Christian follows. He says it is obvious why. What do you think? Are we concerned only with the sin of others and ignore our own sin even when we believe we are saved? He said that we including him are hypocrites? Is that true?
    I will paste the list he gave me here for your thoughts:

    1. Jesus said Give Away EVERYTHING You Own: Luke 14:33
    So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.

    2. Jesus said Don’t Plan for The Future: Matthew 6:34
    So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.

    3. Jesus said Don’t Defend Yourself if Attacked: Matthew 5:39
    But I say to you, Do not resist the evil man [who injures you]; but if anyone strikes you on the right jaw or cheek, turn to him the other one too.

    4. Hate Your Family: Luke 14:26
    If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters… he cannot be My disciple.

    5. Jesus said Don’t Save Your Money: Matthew 6:19
    Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal.

    6. Jesus said Give Anything You Have to Anyone Who Asks: Matthew 5:42
    Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.

    7. Jesus said Do NOT Pray in Public: Matthew 6:6
    When you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father… in that secret place.

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    1. The list shows an ignorance of Scripture and a shallowness of thinking. Its the kind of thing one gets on the internet as some kind of brilliant knock down argument – when it is nothing fo the sort. To give just one example – Luke 14:33 does not say you have to give up (away) all your possessions. Always read the context. It is about total commitment to Christ, told in the context of a parable of a king who goes to war and has to count the potential cost. Jesus no more means that every Christian must own nothing than he means when he says you have to give up your life, that every Christian has to commit suicide! (all of the disciples had possessions!). It’s an ignorant, irrational and accusatory way of reading the Bible. The rest of the comments are in the same vein.

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      1. re: point #7

        The preceding verses and those after that introduce the Lord’s Prayer suggest that praying in private is exactly what Jesus meant.

        I am not a Christian, but I’ve read this passage often enough to have come to the conclusion that there does not appear to be any context other than what Jesus commanded.

        if you consider the interpretation is incorrect would you please offer your interpretation of what you believe Jesus actually meant by this command?

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      2. Certainly – Jesus was saying that we should not do prayer as virtue signalling or showing off. Just as we should not do charity in that way. He was not saying that the only time we should pray is in private. He encouraged people to pray together.

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    2. Arkenaten

      We may add that Jesus himself prayed in public; clearly it is not public prayer as such he is condemning. People who have little overall grasp of the bible easily fall into the trap of wooden naive literalistic interpretations that a little more awareness of the bible would show to be absurd. If we take any book , target a passage, and read it without reference to the whole we are likely to make serious interpretive mistakes; the Bible is no exception.

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  3. With regard to the issue Gylen raised, I think roles are a very big problem. Would I write an answer to the question; what is the role of men in the church? No, I would not. Would I get slightly perturbed reading an outline of women’s role in the church, written by a man? Yes I would.

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    1. I’m afraid that I don’t have any problem with either a man or a woman answering a question according to the Word of God. The notion that you cannot speak to anyone unless you are the same as that person is one I reject!

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    2. What about the role of a child written by an adult? Or the role of a head of state written by a citizen.? Or the role of an elder written by a non-elder. Or indeed the role of Christ written by a disciple?

      In the church it is not presumptuous to delineate a role if that role is already delineated in Scripture. Indeed it is our duty to do so as guided by Scripture.

      But Biblical authority not withstanding, if only the one in a role/position can define that role we have a recipe for all kinds of tyranny. This is why society has always and will always define the role of others; the test is whether it dos so fairly and justly. Society will use its collective conscience (or its power pressure groups) to establish a current orthodoxy on ethical issues which will change with prevailing ethical winds. Christians ought to be more stable since their ethical source is the revealed unchanging truth of Scripture. As we know, however, those who claim to be Christians are not always guided by Christ and his word hence the ethical confusion in the church today.

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  4. With regard to male/female roles as raised by Gylen. I was talking about in the context of writing, and not speaking. My immediate thought was that I would not reply in this comments section indicating what men’s role in church is. I think it would be rude and counterproductive . My next thought was a bit defensive, because as a female Christian I am so used to being told by men what my role is. Perhaps I have a wrong attitude. Attitude in this matter is everything, and we have no way of proving what anyone’s attitude really is. I was simply raising an issue and not making a statement. Maybe this issue has the potential to side-track the aim of the talk which was much broader than male/female roles. My point is that male/female roles in church is a huge problem and is far from being resolved, at least not in any way that I have witnessed.

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  5. Hi David. Keep up your great work. In regard to your obvious troll with his list of 7 passages which he thought he could stump us with, I received the very same comment the day after you did. He obviously is a troll – he did not even get my name right – he called me David! At least if he rehashes these memes he should try to change the names first. I did not post his comment, but I did write a piece showing the paucity and silliness of his objections, more for the benefit of others: https://billmuehlenberg.com/2018/07/09/answering-cheap-troll-attacks/

    BTW I enjoyed you 2007 and 2014 books on atheism. And I liked your interview with John Anderson, who I know here in Australia. Bless you.

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