Protestant Ethics

Protestant Ethics

Do others have the right to define what's ethical for me?

Rev. RICK REED is senior pastor at the Metropolitan Bible Church in Ottawa.

No, but God does. Without God as the eternal, unchanging standard for truth, ethics are up for grabs. We’re left to follow the dictates of conscience or culture — both of which can drift in dangerous directions.

In 1980, Steve Taylor wrote a Creed to capture the bleak outcome of humanity’s attempt to do ethics without God: “We believe in Marxfreudanddarwin; We believe everything is OK as long as you don't hurt anyone to the best of your definition of hurt, and to the best of your knowledge.”

“We believe that each man must find the truth that is right for him. Reality will adapt accordingly. The universe will readjust.

History will alter. We believe that there is no absolute truth excepting the truth that there is no absolute truth.”

“We believe in the rejection of creeds, and the flowering of individual thought. If chance be the Father of all flesh, disaster is his rainbow in the sky. And when you hear State of Emergency! Sniper Kills Ten! Troops on Rampage! Whites go Looting! Bomb Blasts School!

It is but the sound of man worshipping his maker.”

Rather than leaving ethics to random chance or human choice, Christians believe ethical standards are rooted in the nature of God. He defines right and wrong by His own character. Since God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6), ethics remain stable and sturdy.

To see God’s ethics on display, look at the life of Jesus. Because Jesus is the flesh-and-blood expression of God (Colossians 2:9), His words and works perfectly express heaven’s vision for earthly ethics.

Not only did Jesus set the standard for ethics, by His sacrificial death He provided forgiveness for all who have failed to live up to them. He is both the example and Saviour for all who trust in Him.

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