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"Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matt 22:37-40 NIV

That's as simple as it gets. The difficulty with Christian ethics is not what to do, but how and when to do it. We are always called upon to choose our course of action. Beyond the choices we make for ourselves, we find the issue of community standards. How we are to exercise discipline in the church? Where is the dividing line between ethics and the law? At which point does the state overstep its authority? Should the church be pushing the state to enforce Christian moral standards?  Should the state impose its secular standards on the church? Below are two very good overviews concerning ethics. One is Christian (Xenos) and the other is secular (Atheism). It would benefit you to read both, especially for purposes of Apologetics. There are also a number of articles on Just War. The Ethics Handbook is early 20th c. but clear and comprehensive.

When the church seeks to impose its ethics on others by force instead of by example and persuasion, it is called "theonomy." There are four articles below on theonomy. I am opposed to the very idea of theonomy, even the middle road taken by Williamson. Nonetheless, familiarize yourself with it, because this is the "Christian Right" that you hear about in the news. You'll find more about church and state on the Politics Page.

If you're looking for a good ethics textbook with loads of examples and guidance, the most comprehensive book available is Kingdom Ethics by Stassen and Gushee. It's a unique and extraordinary work. You don't have to accept all their conclusions. I think their treatment of the death penalty, for example, is questionable. However, I appreciate their separation of Old and New Testament teachings on the topic. Then again, their use of B.C.E. and C.E. for dating suggests a liberal mindset. I still recommend it. I favor and highly recommend Ethics for a Brave New World by John Feinberg and Paul Feinberg (Crossway, 1993). Though not as comprehensive as Kingdom Ethics, the analyses of the issues are far superior.

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