A Survey of Recent Christian Ethics

By Edward Leroy Long Jr. | Go to book overview

3
Variations of Relationalism and a Softening of Situationalism

When A Survey of Christian Ethics was written in 1964-65, thinking about ethical judgments in relational terms was a prevalent feature of much Continental Protestant thinking, and situation ethics were well known in England and the United States. Not only elaborate theological schemes mainly of interest to professionals, but popularized religious writings were emphasizing the contextual features of moral choice. Autonomous reasoning, moral philosophy, reliance upon natural law, code morality, casuistries in general, and moral theology as a normative enterprise were all under attack by such a large number of well- known voices as to spread the impression that Christian ethics was closely tied to the fortunes of a new morality--or at least to overcoming the disadvantages of an old one. The place of reason in moral judgments was accused of being dysfunctional in an ethic dependent upon the perception of and obedience of God's sovereign will. Specific descriptions of right and wrong were considered to endanger the spontaneous obedience characteristic of faith.

The influence of this set of ideas has been considerable, as is evident from the number of those persons whose thought has

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