In tracing the source of Christian ethics to its Old Testament roots, the author explores the covenant and its developing radical monotheism, the law as it evolved from cultic ritual observances to a more humanitarian community of law, the prophets and their refining of Yahweh’s judgment and mercy, finally to Jesus’ unique understanding of God – centered moral living that moved beyond his Old Testament heritage to an exemplification of hope for the righteous rule of God in a redeemed community for this world and the next.
The forces that are creating the society of tomorrow may be managed for the benefit of all by a cybernetic society democratically planned.
What are the threats and promises posed by our increasing dependence on technological reason? The threats we face rise in direct proportion to the promises, and both are climbing at an exponential rate.
The primary and final authority for Christian ethics is found in the life, teachings, ministry and death of Jesus Christ as the revelation of God. He clarified the ethical demands of a God-centered life by applying obedient love or agape to all human situations, both personal and social, and insisted this included the earthly as well as the eternal, and required our best actions amid the relativities of the present world.
Expanding from a Jewish to a Gentile world the early church concluded that no legalism, Judaic or Gentile, was adequate to fulfill the gospel standard of agape, that the Kingdom of God was already present and yet to come, and that in living the gospel in this world with its political, economic and social challenges would require faithfulness and patience.
Technological reason serves us best when it becomes the servant of creative thinking and is directed toward life-fulfilling goals. Unless technological reason is dominated by a vision that comes from beyond itself, it will lead us toward robotic efficiency, void of human ecstasy.
Christian ethics begin with the assumption that Christian character is founded, not on naturalism or humanism, but on Jesus as the supreme revealer of God, that Christian virtues are not the exclusive possession of Christians, that sin is not a state of being but rebellious self-love and self-exaltation that leads to failure to be adequately responsive to the love commandment of Jesus, that humans are created free to make moral choices, and Christians are called to make these choices in light of the love commandment.
The New Testament teaches that the Kingdom is primarily a gift of God, not a human achievement. The author offers suggestions how this Kingdom might be accepted.
The author makes some specific proposals for creating a better world: 1. Income tax where all pay their fair share. 2. Replace the present welfare system guaranteeing a minimal family income plan. 3. Commit 1% of gross national product to assistance of the poverty-stricken countries.
Jesus’ love commandment assumes we will love ourselves and calls us to expand beyond self-realization to devotion to God, and concern for others. Brotherly love should not be restricted to interpersonal relations, however primary they may be, but extend to wider service, including social service and social action to those persons and institutions not known to us directly, where social sin calls for our best response in the light of the gospel.