In this episode of Davenant Discussions, Brad Belschner and Alastair Roberts consider basic Christian ethics in relation to orthodoxy. Should these basics be considered a part of orthodoxy? How much can creeds simply assume? How much should they assume that a believer knows about Scripture? Watch the Discussion below!
00:01 – It seems we should have a category for talking of people who deny basic ethics in the church. Are they orthodox? Is ethics part of orthodoxy?
00:30 – Moral orthodoxy. Is ethics a part of it?
00:42 – In our creeds we have clear outlines for things like Trinitarianism, Christology, etc., but nothing about basic morality. Are people who do not believe this orthodox?
01:30 – To begin with, the creed gives the grammar to the method. A shape within Christian ethics is articulated. For example: it gives us a clear image of who God is. Many of our ethics fail to take this into account, but true ethics is based around worship and an apprehension of who God is.
02:15 – True ethics gives us a world within which we act. It gives us a sense of who we are, who God is, a sense of where we exist within that in time, and what our actions mean within that context.
02:30 – It teaches the forgiveness of sins, which pushes back against moralism, which can be a problem in ethics. It tells us about the work of Christ in salvation. And about how our bodies have been claimed for him. It talks about the second coming and judgement.
03:06 – I see how the basics about understanding God can help us to obey him, but nevertheless we have important ethical questions that have been dealt with in a consistent way throughout the church, questions of basic ethics liberals today are asking once more. Can we add these today to orthodoxy as “moral” orthodoxy?
03:47 – The term “resurrection from the dead” does not define itself. It presumes a certain definition that we find in Scripture. Same situation with “sins” and “holy” in relationship to the church, which are terms that refer back to Scripture, and these give us the grammar of the Christian faith. It doesn’t necessarily fill in all the content, it simply expects you to know these things.
04:13 – Orthodoxy is related to ethics in another respects. Sexual ethics was a part of the concern of the Jerusalem council.
04:27 – Are you saying we have a foundation that the creed is built upon, that the creeds assume?
04:50 – Absolutely. The creed demands certain ethical standards to be maintained within the church. If we’re talking about sin being tolerated within the church – that’s a challenge to the truth that we confess in the creed. The creed pushes us to acting against sin. Otherwise “sin” is a term that’s up for grabs.
05:34 – So ethics is part of orthodoxy, but not as a set of propositional claims, but rather along the lines of holiness? Honoring these beliefs means we have to be holy.
06:06 – Yes. And the creed was never meant to function by itself. We do not confess baptism for the forgiveness of sins and then list the sins which baptism covers. So the creed is not a summary of Scripture that allows you to throw out the rest; rather it’s more lie the 10 commandments as a summary statement giving us a sense of the wider body, giving you understanding as to how the law works. In the same way the creed allows us to understand how God’s truth works.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]