Teaching ethics in the seminary curriculum

Seminary Curriculum / Produced by TOW Project

Teaching Ethics at Biola 

Traditional ethics courses focus on an introduction to the main schools of ethical thought and approaches to moral reasoning.  Topics discussed often include contentious moral issues such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, sexual ethics, genetic engineering and war.  While thought-provoking, these courses leave out the dilemmas people face every day at work. There is room to expand the study of ethics to include day-to-day decision making.

The Theology of Work Project has two indispensable resources on ethics.  One is a paper on Truth and Deception in the Workplace, the other is  an Ethics at Work Overview paper. Please note this paper exists online in two forms - one a systematic presentation and the other as a case study. The assignment below uses the systematic presentation. This paper quotes the following observation:

 “Research suggests that most regular churchgoers only exhibit ethical understandings distinctive from the rest of the population as this relates to a few issues of sexual conduct, personal honesty and the accumulation of wealth. In most other respects, we are shaped more by the values of our culture than the ethics of Jesus.

The encouraging thing about this research is that it does demonstrate clearly that churchgoing does make a difference to our ethical understanding. But sadly, only in a very limited way, because those ethical concerns that are regularly addressed in church exclude most workplace and business ethics issues.” (Quote taken from “Will The Real Jesus Please Stand Up?” section of the Ethics at Work Overview paper.)

In the light of this observation we recommend an assignment that encourages students to explore different practical ways that Christians have sought to use the Bible to clarify distinctively Christian ethics for the marketplace.

ETHICS ASSIGNMENT - How should we use the Bible to develop ethics for the marketplace?

Read the Theology of Work article on Ethics and Work, via the systematic presentation option

Write an essay in response that:

  1. explains which approaches you find most helpful and why.
  2. names those approaches that you don’t think are valid or useful and explains why.
  3. adds any other helpful approaches or perspectives that you think have been neglected in this discussion.
  4. describes any ways in which  your understanding has been challenged, or changed, or perhaps just reinforced by this exercise.