The Christian Ethics book by Geisler explores the different views of ethics, especially those proposed by Christians. Ethics refers to differentiating between right from wrong and choosing to do what one would consider right. However, there are varying definitions of what is considered right or wrong based on religion, experiences and other social attributes. This essay discusses two ethics systems from the Christian Ethics textbook: generalism and unqualified absolutism and what they mean in the context of a Christian worldview.
One ethics system proposed by Geisler (2010) is generalism which is more or less the utilitarianism ethics system. According to Geisler, generalism involves choosing an action that will bring the greatest good to the highest number of people. Generalism does not involve any universally binding ethical norms but dictate that each action should lead to greater good instead of evil. This implies that actions are not judged based on their value or what they stand for, but by the outcome. The key weakness of this ethics system is that the “greater good” is objective in the eyes of the action doer and that the ultimate end or outcome of an action is often ambiguous (Howe, 2004).
- Unqualified Absolutism
This is another ethics system that suggests that moral conflicts are not real and that people can always avoid sin. According to Geisler (2010), all ethical rules are absolute and that people should not have a reason to break them. When it comes to handling ethical dilemmas, unqualified absolutism ethics system suggests that the dilemma is often as a result of the person’s sin or deviation from the ethical rules and that the person must live with the consequences of these sins. Unqualified absolutism is different from generalism in that the former relies on God’s nature while addressing dilemmas whereas the latter relies on a system of values that are not absolute.
The ethics systems in the context of a Christian worldview
In the Christian worldview, generalism means using the Christian values to determine what is right from wrong and what ultimate end could be desirable for a Christian. Since generalism does not involve universally binding laws, Christians would need to use Christian teachings to guide their actions. This implies instead of taking actions with the purpose of impressing other people, Christians with a generalism ethics system perform actions to please God (Hollinger, 2002).
In the Christian worldview, unqualified absolutism means that a Christian’s actions should be based on God’s nature and providence and that choosing any other option is sin and it is what leads to ethical dilemmas. This implies that Christians should always act based in the teachings of God and that God has designed man’s morals in such a way that sin is not necessary. The Christian life is not designed in a way that it is necessary to do the lesser evil in order to avoid sin (Geisler, 1989). Therefore, by fully following the teachings of God, a Christian can leave a sin free life.
In generalism, there are some guiding moral principles and laws, none of which is absolute. To avoid moral conflicts, Christians would need to refer to the Christian teachings and value system for guidance in taking actions involving ethics. In contrast, in unqualified absolutism, Christians do not have a choice in dealing with real-life conflicts and dilemmas as they have to live according to God’s nature and providence.