Explain the meaning and importance of Christian love in Situation Ethics.

Katie Hanlon
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A-Levels R.E Mind Map on Explain the meaning and importance of Christian love in Situation Ethics., created by Katie Hanlon on 05/10/2013.

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Katie Hanlon
Created by Katie Hanlon over 6 years ago
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Explain the meaning and importance of Christian love in Situation Ethics.
1 Joseph Fletcher was an American moral theologian who proposed an approach to Christian ethics called situationism, this teleological theory considered each situation on its merits before applying the Christian principle of love, this being agape. It was a middle way ethical system that rejected the two extremes of legalism (following laws as absolutes) and antinomianism (having total freedom to act as one pleases. It was a theological way of meeting a practical need in light of the radical social changes of the twentieth century, in particular changing views on what is seen to be acceptable and moral behaviour. With regards to Christian love, Fletcher thought it was selfless and should be the decision making factor in morality.
1.1 Fletcher believed the primary motivation should be love for the individual, and recognition that the most loving thing out of a situation should be the ultimate motive.
2 AGAPE
2.1 Fletcher saw his approach to ethics as grounded in the Christian gospel. He sees love as being an active principle as opposed to passive, he associated it with a verb as a 'doing' thing rather than a noun or thing in itself. The quote '.....' from his book exemplifies this concept.
2.1.1 'Love is the only universal. But love is not something we have or are, it is something we do'
2.2 Fletcher believes that agape should be at the basis of all moral decision making. It is the word used in the Old Testament for pure, unconditional Christian love. It is also disinterested and seeks only the benefit of the one who is loved.
2.3 Rudolf Bultmann said Jesus has no ethics apart from 'love thy neighbour'
2.4 Early Christians used agape in the sense of God's self-sacrifical love, to which the appropriate response is that agape must be shown in the community. This is reflective upon Jesus' crucifixion which is said to be the biggest form of agape. Fletcher uses this primary example, not to persuade people to imitate Christ but by applying the rule of agape in all situations. The idea behind this was that in practice, Christians are not supposed to simply love others, but to do so to the extent that they self sacrifice in doing so.
3 6 FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES
3.1 When making a decision, the situationist should identify the most loving thing in the situation no matter what the cost. Fletcher wanted to preserve the Christian principle of agape love therefore proposed an anapaestic calculus with the teaching 'love your neighbour as yourself' as the basis. He coined six statements to serve as basic propositions for the practical application of his ethical theory.
3.1.1 1. 'ONLY ONE THING IS INTRINSICALLY GOOD; NAMELY LOVE: NOTHING ELSE AT ALL'
3.1.1.1 Actions aren't intrinsically good or evil, they are good or evil depending on what they promote the most loving result. They are extrinsically good, depending on their circumstances and consequences.
3.1.2 2. 'THE RULING NORM OF CHRISTIAN DECISION IS LOVE: NOTHING ELSE'
3.1.2.1 This asserts that love replaces law. It means that the love is self-giving and seeks the best interest of others but allows people the freedom and responsibility to choose the right thing to do for themselves.
3.1.3 3. 'LOVE AND JUSTICE ARE THE SAME, FOR JUSTICE IS LOVE DISTRIBUTED, NOTHING ELSE'
3.1.3.1 Love and justice can't be separated from each other, they are insepareble so if love is put into practice it can only result in justice giving everyone in the situation a happy and loving result.
3.1.4 4. 'LOVE WILLS THE NEIGHBOUR'S GOOD, WHETHER WE LIKE HIM OR NOT'
3.1.4.1 The love that Fletcher is concerned about isn't a matter of feeling, but of attitude of the will towards the other person. It isn't sentimental or erotic (phileo and eros), but rather a desire for the love of another person. This is the New Testament agape love, therefore the other person must experience an unconditional concept of love.
3.1.5 5. 'ONLY THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS, NOTHING ELSE'
3.1.5.1 Situation ethics deals with the end results. To follow absolutes is impossible, the end must be the most loving result. One must consider the desired end, the means available and the motive for acting and foreseeable consequences.
3.1.6 6. 'LOVE'S DECISIONS ARE MADE SITUATIONALLY, NOT PRESCRIPTIVELY'
3.1.6.1 This asserts that for real decision making, freedom is required, all ethical decisions must be situation based led by agape, not principle based.
4 OTHER SCHOLARS
4.1 Modern agape can be found in the works of C.S Lewis, his main attribute is his love for humanity.

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