Short Talk

Persuasive Ethics

Date recorded: 27 May 2013 | Speaker: David Robertson
Topic: ApologeticsEthical


Simon Kolstoe's picture

Not sure about the critique of consequentialism. Most contemporary ethicists hold to relativism, not a complete denial of absolutism. Thus the argument is not "I am absolutely sure that there are no absolutes" (which as pointed out is a contradiction) but rather "some things are more right than others, and the only way to identify which things are more right is through philosophical/theological argument". Such arguments are then more effective if they take a consequentialist rather then deontological form as (again pointed out) those who deny the bible as an authority will not share the same authority as a Christian, whereas both might agree on consequences.

Due to this many Christian ethicists now tend to take more of a virtue based approach. This can be quite an effective apologetic as you do not have to believe in God to concede that the bible demonstrates a good way to live. Once someone has conceded this you are well along the path of introducing Christ.

Tom Wright's "Virtue Reborn" is a good first source for this type of approach.


Many non-Christians have a sense that Christianity is about ethics but are also frightened that we are seeking to impose our strict ethical system upon them, whilst at the same time being hypocrites ourselves. For this reason, many Christians tend to shy away from ethics when seeking to communicate the Gospel. Rather than this helping in our communication of the Gospel, it has left many with the impression that Christians are concerned about moralism and ethics through the political system. This session looks at how we avoid the traps of moralism and accusations of political power-seeking whilst using the Christian teaching about ethics to communicate Christ.