Seth mokitimi methodist seminary

Assignment 1

I am a seminarian at the Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary (SMMS). This is my first year of seminary along with all the other student ministers. I do not belong to a specific congregation as yet but will be in the future. We will be placed into surrounding congregation to get involved there for a while then we will rotate into other congregations. (I assume it will only be Methodist Churches).

But up until now, I have always been in a Methodist congregation as well as ministering to Methodist Churches in a cross cultural setting last year in my Phase 1 training program.

The name 'Situation Ethics' speaks for itself. Every situation is not the same and should be dealt with as such. The theory of Situation Ethics has an underlining factor, and this is love - 'Agape' love[i] (it is a love we can have towards anyone without reward). This is to be the foundation in attending to any situation. This was suggested by Joseph Fletcher who wrote a book on "Situation Ethics" (1966). He found ethical guidance from laws to be very narrow, legalistic and unloving[ii]. This claiming that sometimes love needs to override the law making it good. For example: Teenage pregnancy with the choice of adoption. 'Law' would say sex out of wedlock is wrong, but this girl was a victim of date-rape at a party. She was knocked unconscious from the date-rape-drug and from that situation to find out she was impregnated. She chooses not to have an abortion as she is pro-life but cannot keep the baby as she is too young and her family cannot support the baby financially.

The theory of utilitarianism is not a Christian theory. It does not only have its focus on the Christian communities but rather utilitarianism is a theory that tells us that 'one must seek to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people'[iii]. This is a form of hedonism[iv] and not hedonism. Hedonism: "the doctrine that pleasure and well-being are the greatest good"[v]. This means it seeks pleasure, extravagance, self-indulgence, whereas the antonym for hedonism is self-denial. The difference with utilitarianism is that it doesn't seek its own pleasure. It focuses on the betterment of society having justice as its primary focus. Understanding and applying this theory can help with the war on HIV/AIDS. For example: Teaching people about abstinence over and above 'safe sex' to beat HIV/AIDS. The justice in this is to fight for innocent lives conned by contraceptive campaigns claiming the pretences that sex is safe with a condom which invariably is killing people... societies... and then nation.

Virtue Ethics is an intuitive understanding between right and wrong. The person who invests into their character in a good way will naturally make right choices when they act in character. A Christian should have the following as virtues: Love, Wisdom, Patience, Justice, and Faith.

The difference between Virtue Ethics versus Situation ethics and the Utilitarianism approach is that Virtue Ethics is not an exclusive approach as the other two. In fact virtue ethics plays a role in both the situation ethics and the utilitarianism approach. Virtue Ethics is needed across the board in all the approaches and theories. The difference is Virtue Ethics is the internal betterment of one's self ("What should I be"[vi]) and the other two are for the external betterment of others ("What would happen if I do this?"[vii] and, 'How can I show love in this situation'). Virtue ethics is where it all starts from. This forms the motivation and inspiration as to what you will do - effecting the way you do Situation Ethics and Utilitarianism. Virtue unfortunately needs more than just knowing the right thing to do[viii]. These three compliment one another.

The ethical issue I have identified is the election of the Methodist Bishop Dr. Mvumi Dandala into the presidency of political party COPE (Congress of the People). This is an ethical issue as it might portray to the country that the Methodist Church and all Methodist people will be supporting COPE. Giving the people of South Africa the reverse impression that the Methodist church is fuelled by political movements (specifically being party specific) and not the fact that our country needs to ask the question, "What is our country basing its morals and values on?" while being helped in that formation through the Methodist Church. That is itself will cause a split. The other issue of course is inside the "walls" of the Methodist Church where this move might be giving the ANC, NP, and other political supporters who are members of the Methodist church a feeling of betrayal. This could potentially split the Methodist church. But this still begs the question, "Should Christians be in politics?"

Biblical: Principle 2, 5, 6, 7? Chapter 6 + 9?

Ethical: Virtue Ethics,

Wesley fighting slavers - civil war in 18th century - god appointed people in governmental positions - moral and ethical formation of the country - etc...

Support this move but also the members to not simply vote because of tradition but rather make an informed decision... etc...

Bibliography

  • Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005
  • Deist F; A Concise Dictionary of Theological and Related Terms; Van Schaik J.L.; 1992
  1. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.34
  2. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.33
  3. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.8
  4. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.8
  5. Deist F; A Concise Dictionary of Theological and Related Terms; Van Schaik J.L.; 1992; pg.112
  6. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.10
  7. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.8
  8. Living an Ethical Faith; Theological Education by Extension College; Workbook 1; 2005; pg.65

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