Biblically Inspired Ethics
Peter Kreeft (Servant Publications: May, 1990), 218 pages.
Peter Kreeft has written a great little book for all those who are tired of hearing 'it's not so black and white'. Kreeft does an excellent job of explaining, simply and clearly, that right and wrong are objective - regardless of whether or not it is easy or makes someone happy. Kreeft also clears up some moral misconceptions like 'if it doesn't hurt anyone else, then it's ok' and 'the end justifies the means'. Also included in this book is an excellent discussion, scientifically based, on why abortion is objectively wrong (such as the fact that science has always defined a fetus as another human life, science has never been able to come up with a concrete time limit on so-called viability, and that a fetus has a distinct human genetic code that is separate from it's mother's). While in reading this book Kreeft does spend some time talking about God and his Christian faith, his arguments are philosophically and scientifically sound across the religious spectrum. Regardless of a reader's religion/athiesm, Kreeft's logic applies. While Kreeft argues that morality comes from God, he also demonstrates that one need not know that or believe in God to understand and use objective morals. ~ Tammy L. Schilling
"Letter from a Birmingham Jail", (April 16, 1963).
You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
Tragic Sense of Life, trans. J.E. Crawford Flitch (Dover: 1954), orig. 1921, p. 291.
The fact that society is guilty aggravates the guilt of each one, and he is most guilty who most is sensible of the guilt. Christ, the innocent, since he best knew the intensity of guilt, was in a certain sense the most guilty. In him the culpability, together with the divinity, of humanity arrived at the consciousness of itself. Many are wont to be amused when they read how, because of the most trifling faults, faults at which a man of the world would merely smile, the greatest saints counted themselves the greatest sinners. But the intensity of the fault is not measured by the external act, but by the consciousness of it, and an act for which the conscience of one man suffers acutely makes scarcely any impression on the conscience of another. And in a saint, conscience may be developed so fully and to such a degree of sensitiveness that the slightest sin may cause him more remorse than his crime causes the greatest criminal. And sin rests upon our consciousness of it, it is in him who judges and in so far as he judges. When a man commits a vicious act believing in good faith that he is doing a virtuous action, we cannot hold him morally guilty, while on the other hand that man is guilty who commits an act which he believes to be wrong, even though in itself the act is indifferent or perhaps beneficent. The act passes away, the intention remans, and the evil of the act is that it corrupts the intention, that in knowingly doing wrong a man is predisposed to go on doing it, that it blurs the conscience. And doing evil is not the same being evil. Evil blurs the conscience, and not only the moral conscience, but the general, psychical consciousness. And everything that exalts and expands conscious is good, while that which depresses and diminishes it is evil.
Scott B. Rae (Zondervan Publishing House: December, 1995)
This Christian introduction to ethics familiarizes both seminary and secular university students with basic processes of ethical decision-making. Updated with a new chapter on the ethical issues involved in genetic technologies.