Something I've had to come to grips with over the last year or so is the field of Christian ethics. "Had to" because they lay in wait, jaws snapping, on the study path to my objective of a degree in theology.
At the venerable institution I study with, the Reformed influence reigns. I say that because, when it comes it ethics it's all Gunton, O'Donovan and - most horribly of all - Samuel Wells. These guys either build their ethics on the powdery grey clouds of Reformed dogmatics, or in an adjoining en suite. "Metanarrative" is the key word. The line goes from that ancient heretic Augustine, loops a few times around Calvin and then proceeds - faster than a speeding bullet - to Karl Barth. It's all Adam's fault (the Fall) and only Christians can be truly ethical because of nod-nod, wink-wink "revelation."
Looking at the course outlines you'd never guess that there was a whole other paradigm out there, but there is. Those wicked Roman Catholics are at the forefront. Catholic moral theologians are a stimulating if endangered breed. Hans Kung in Germany, Charles Curran and Daniel Maguirein the US (both thorns in the side of Holy Mother Church.) Across in Australia Michael Morwood(not an ethicist but a Catholic educator who fell afoul of the hierarchy, and who has a lot to say about ditching the Fall/Redemption theory.)
The moral theology perspective is far more optimistic than anything that comes out of the Reformed camp, with a passion for justice that is inclusive rather than turned in on itself. It doesn't depend on symbolic acts by fictive characters who are convicted of terrible deeds they couldn't have done even if they were real. Death and sin did not enter the world because of Adam. There was no Adam. Death and suffering have been doing the rounds since well before life crawled out of the oceans. The universe is not in disarray because of a snake and an apple. We didn't do it. The "metanarrative" is screwed.
So, my ethical dilemma is whether or not to parrot the expected party line, or stir in a dose of dissent on this semester's course. As readers of my other blog know, I'm an irenic fellow, rarely confrontational or controversial.
To hades with the grade: which way to the jugular?