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Christian ethics should only be situational

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/27/2016 Category: Religion
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 198 times Debate No: 85656
Debate Rounds (4)
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The topic of my supposed debate is that taking into account the whole idea of the Christianity, as revealed by Jesus, we can firmly conclude that anyone holding himself to be Christian should act teleologically and relativistically, not deontologically and legalisticly.
I would be happy to face any objections against that view.


I accept. Define your terms and then prove it with Scripture. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 1


When looking at this case, we should solely consider the New Testament as the basis and the source of the Christian ethical and moral system, as teachings of Jesus overrule any old teachings of the Old Testament, which indeed are often very deontological and legalistic. This raises question of the interpretation of the Scripture, whether we should take a fundamentalistic view and assume that if the Bible says "Thou shall not kill" Exodus 20:13, than this rule is a direct word of God and therefore should always be followed, as God clearly states that killing is intrinsically wrong.

Furthermore, there are other countless examples of arguments against murder in the Bible, such as "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple", but I will presume that we are clear both clear on their presence and will not quote anymore of them. So there is a clear set of rules and commands given in the Bible, in the Decalogue and in many various other places, which tell us from the name of the Lord what to do and what not to do, and many Christians go on to assume that those laws are infallible. Others go onto assuming various interpretations and degrees of following the Scripture by word, which is reflected in their denominations' dogmas.

However, I would very much like to disagree with this point of view that the Scripture must be obeyed at all times and all costs and I think that the New Testament clearly shows us that Christian behaviour should be guided by the Law, but controlled by no laws at all. To explain this further, I should point out that my assumptions are based on the idea that Christians should look out mostly to Christ, as -

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me". John 14:6. So from this we can infer that only through Son of Man all Christians should come to the Father. But in which specific way do we come to Father "through" Christ? I personally do not think that this refers to the redemption of our sins through His death on the cross and Resurrection. In Hebrews 12:2, we see that we are told to "Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect" in our daily lives, and again we are told to follow His example in the 1 Peter 2:21, saying "Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps". Therefore, I think it is enough to establish that Jesus should be a role model for any Christian.

Now, we should take into consideration that his actions are always in line with the God's word and will, as otherwise Jesus would not be God Himself and could not have saved us by dying sinless on the cross. Therefore, we can say that all of His actions are right and and His attitudes can be applied in any situation. This might seem an unnecessary simple and childish assumption to make, but I felt I should make it anyway.

So now let us look at the example of Jesus and see whether His actions and teachings tell us to follow the Scripture by word or do otherwise, good for us we have Gospels for such thing.

First example I would like to look at is from Mark 3:1-6, where Jesus heals person's hand in the synagogue on the Sabbath day. This example is very important for the argument, as it practically shows, how Jesus himself breaks the word of the Divine Law, which say "Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work[...]", Deuteronomy, 5:13. So, by the Jewish tradition no labour should be done on the Sabbath day, and Jesus breaks this by healing, therefore angering Pharisees, who knew the word of the Law better, than anyone else.

But Jesus replies to them with the analogy of lifting a sheep on the Sabbath day, saying then "Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the Sabbath day". Matthew 12:12. Now, here we see how Jesus Himself interprets the Law, saying that although the word of the Law says not to do such things on the Sabbath day, however it is permissible to heal a man on that day, as this will be a good action worth to take. From this I infer that Jesus himself did not understand the scripture literally, but used it as a guideline, which has to be interpreted in order to be applied to particular situations, such as healing the man's hand.

This idea seems to be further supported by the answer of Jesus to the question, which is the most important commandment, saying : "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength", and second most important one is that "You shall love your neighbor as yourself' There is no other commandment greater than these". Mark 12:30-31. Here Jesus gives His divine response to the fundamental question of the Christianity, saying that the most important thing after loving One God is to love your neighbour as yourself. Thus, Jesus gives us a direct clue to the way any follower of God should act and also explains all of his actions - they are solely based on the love of God and love of people.

Therefore, this implies that although there is no doubt that the Law itself is good, as it is Inspired by God, Jesus shows us that the basis of all the Law is Love. From this in turn I see that any action, which is not done for Love, either Love of God or Love of People, is not in line with the will of God. Thus, in any situation Christian should look out to do the most loving thing, even if sometimes it goes against the direct word of the Law.

For example, the Law tells us, "Thou shall not steal", Exodus 20:15. This commandment in itself is solely aimed to bring most loving outcome on the whole, as if no one ever stole from anyone, than our world would be a much better place. However, due to either our nature on its own, or our original sin from the Fall, whichever way you view it, our world is imperfect for now. And if there was a person, who due to the illness was not able to work and feed his family, who are starving right now, would it be right or wrong for him to steal?

In here we can either take a legalistic and deontological approach and say that stealing is intrinsically bad, as it goes against the word of God, therefore it is better not to steal a piece of meat and have your family die from starvation, as stealing cannot be justified.

But looking back, I made a point that the Bible itself and the basis of the Christianity tell us, that person would always follow example of Jesus. Therefore. let us ask a question - "what would Jesus say or do in this situation?". Set aside the obvious answer that Jesus could feed as many people as He liked, I suppose that answer is clear, Jesus would do the most loving thing, as he Himself said that "there are no commandments greater than these" Mark 12:31.

Judging what is the most loving thing without bringing in some kind of weighting system, such as one of Fletcher or Bentham is hard, so I will not speculate saying that I know for sure that the answer here is to steal, as this is not the purpose. The purpose is to show, that we at least have to consider each situation upon its own circumstances and consequences our actions will have on people, not relying on always (!) doing what the Law said by word, as I think Jesus did do so or believe in doing saw. By His own example He showed us that we have to interpret the Law to act in the most loving way, as after all omnibenevolence is a key quality of the God of Classical Theism.


Your premise in your first paragraph is heresy. 2 Tim 3:15-17 says that it is the OT that forms the basis of Christian ethics. Indeed, Christ made it clear that the obedience to the OT law down to the jot and tittle will determine the Christian's standing in the Kingdom. Finally, I John 2:4 says those who claim to know Christ, but deny His Law as the ethical standard for Christians are liars without the truth in them.

And, of course, Christians are to imitate Christ, including His complete obedience to the Torah. Jewish tradition is meaningless to the Christian. The fact is Jesus DID NOT disobey the 4th Commendment at any time. So that argument is based on faulty premise.

Yes, Christ commands us to love God and love neighbor, but He does not leave it up to you to define love. Rather, the whole of the Bible says that to love God and to love neighbor, we must obey all of the Law (I John 5:2-3 and Romans 13:8-11). . One cannot disobey the Law in the name of love. Thus, in your example, it would be sin for your hypotehical starving man to steal.

Finally, thank you for your opions, but can we keep this discussion Biblical?
Debate Round No. 2


I would very much agree that the Old Testament is the basis(!) of the Christian ethics, as it is where Christianity takes its roots, however I think it was emphasised in the Scripture enough that although Old Covenant being true, it is now obsolete with the coming of the New Covenant, made between people and God by Death and Ressurection of Jesus Christ, Hebrews 8:13 " By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete;p and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear", and also 2 Corinthians 3:11 "And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!", which shows that the New Covenant overrules the Old One.
This was also shown after a big dispute between the apostles about the process of the circumsition. The Old Testament clearly states in the Lev 12:3 that "And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised", however Peter declares that "No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are", Acts 15:11, therefore overruling the rule of the Old Testament by the power Jesus.

The fact that majority of the rules from the Old Testament became obsolete with the coming of Jesus is also shown by the fact nor do we have to make sacrifices, nor keep the Sabbath Day fully in major Christian traditions, such as in the Catholic Church, Greek and Greek or Russian Orthodox traditions, as well as many Protestant churches, as the New Testament tells us : "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming"not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship", Hebrews 10:1.

Therefore, I have to either assume that your claim that following the Law to the jot and tittle, coming from Matthew 5:18 I believe, will either mean that the vast majority of all christians either are bound to go to Hell because of the practises described in the Old Testament, which we have obandoned but which are still there, such as l, or that we should look at the Matthew 5:18 and think about which particular commandments it talks about, as your view seems to be spreading onto the ceremonial and judical commands too, so I do not see where it is coming from, as it is not even Catholic.

Your claim about John 2:4 seems to me to be pulled out of context, as it talks about "Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did" 1 John 2:6, so actually following His example, but I might have misunderstood your point. And yet if we take 1 John 2:4, it talks about following His commands, which is therefore not strictly talking abot commands revealed in the Old Testament, but about ones revealed in the New Testament.

Explain how did Jesus not break the Sabbath day please by supporting it with a theological argument, as otherwise it is lifted in the air.


Yes, unfortunately no, had you read the citations I provided you, you would know that the Torah is valid and binding in exhaustive detail until heaven and earth pass, not the coming of the New Covenant. Indeed, because the New Covenant is the Torah written on the hearts of believers (Heb 10:16), Christ has doubled down on His expectation of full obedience. What the book of Hebrews was written to address was the potential apostasy of the Christian Jewish converts by returning the temple cultic practice, not that they would obey the Torah. Thus, what has become obsolete is those temple cultic practice that merely foreshadowed the coming of Christ. Thus, a man need not be circumcised, but need too not steal. Given this, you claim that the "majority of the rules from the Old Testament became obsolete" is heretical.

And no, Jesus said obedience to the Torah in exhaustive detail determines your standing in, not entrance into, the Kingdom. However, if you affirm Christ and repudiate the Torah, you are a liar without the truth in you. This is John's way of saying you are not a Christian and going to Hell. The Torah is the commands of Christ. You cannot separate them from any other part of Scripture. See Matt 5:17-19.

As to Jesus violating the Sabbath, I stand on His answer. If you wish to stand with the Pharisees, that is up to you.
Debate Round No. 3


Understood your point, and although I actually still disagree over the question whether the majority of the Old Testament's rules are not obsolete, meaning in thus many rituals and judical parts of it, you are most likely to be right about the fact that the Decalogue should be kept.
I did read the verses of course, however I think I did explain my different interpretation of that to yours, did I not?
Regarding the Sabbath day, I did not see how that might be not formal breaking of the Law, however I do see now and have to say that going in this argument with certain beliefs I go out with a big challenge of revising them and perhaps looking at the Scripture from another angle.
Therefore, should I admit that I no longer fully hold the claim I made, at least for the time being, and therefore before any voting admitt you as a winner.
Thank you very much for the debate, it is indeed very useful to put your own belives against a criticism and see, if their hold. as this is how one finds the Truth.


Thank you for your humility, a rear feature these days. I say that sincerely. May God bless your search for the truth, and I can help, let me know.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by GoOrDin 8 months ago
all ethics are "situational". The claim made is redundant. Christian MORALS are always considered within circumstances through ETHICAL science (math).

adultery promotes the abandonment neglect and disrespect of women by enabling womanizers, promoting social injustice, corrupting morals imaginations and ambitions, suggesting lack of obligation or devotion and even Consideration is acceptable, that sex victims should be essentially overlooked as it was socially acceptable and "pleasing", depression is disregarded, elderly are ignored... I can go on about children, womanizers, criminals, perverts, rapists, killers, corrupt politicians etc... MATH.

Ethics are MATH. Morals are conclusions.
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