Christian Ethics in America

September 8th, 2006 / 1 Comment

So I’m enrolled in an ethics course at Duke Divinity School which finally puts me on track towards earning a Masters of Divinity.

Christian Ethics in America: will survey a “development of Christian ethics that includes Rauschenbush, the Niebuhrs, Ramirez, Gustafson, Yoder, Day and King.”

It’s already shaping up to be a pretty rad class. Last week the professor, Alan Verhey, had an excellent comment on research regarding the medical benefits of prayer.

Basically, the problem with prayer as a medical prescription, is that prayer ceases to be a church practice, and becomes a technology. If prayer is used as a medical treatment, then it ceases to become prayer. The point is not that prayer wouldn’t be beneficial, but rather that the act of praying - applied as a drug to enhance the healing process - is not prayer at all.

Taking this idea of prayer as technology one step further, I wonder if there are other practices of the Church that are being used incorrectly.

If a ‘high energy’ worship service is developed to attract an audience, is it still worship?
Has our consumeristic overindulge in the wedding ‘ceremony’ - or the role of the state in issuing marriage licenses - overshadowed the Christian sacrament (or ordinance) of marriage? Does Scripture become weakened when applied to enforce a legal or political argument?

While it may be ambiguous to try and build a rigid boundary for defining Christian practice, I think these questions show the importance of faithfully questioning the motivations behind some of our contemporary Church methods. It also brings to mind some problems with our 21st century Christian need for relevance. When we speak of being relevant, do we mean relevance to God, or simply relevance to ourselves?

Comments (1)

  1. Phil Goins / September 8, 2006

    I agree with your blog in principle. I truly believe that if prayer was added to a Drs. prescription to sickness and then told the patient of how faith works in ones life, we would see many people healed. Prayer is the backbone (so to speak) of ones faith. If we are truly “the faithful” then prayer is a much needed aspect in all of our lives. If we limit prayer to just a church practice then when will most people pray? Alot of people that need to pray will not go to a church even when all odds are aganist them. Many Christin Drs I know prescribe prayer because they see and know how faith works. Prayer could just be what we see as Gods technology for the believers and the lost.

    As for the “high energy services? I presume that you mean the Contempoary services, These services have attracted many new converts to Christianity because they were no longer interested in the usual Church services. The poblem is that the Church forgot how to reach out to the lost. With that said now that we have the contempoary servicse as Pastors it is very important that we teach and teach what true worship is. We can’t assume that just because you show up for the service that you know how or even what you are worshiping. We must and never can change the mssage but we need to sometimes changs our method to reach those wo need Christ.
    Pray about it
    Pastor Phil

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Hi, my name is Scott and I design websites. You can see some of them by visiting my portfolio. When I have the time (which is seldom these days) I like to blog about Christianity, especially theology/ethics. If you want to know more you can read my about page or follow me on Twitter.


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