Moral Mayhem? Facing Today’s Ethical Dilemmas

Ethical dilemmas confront us in all areas of modern life. Professor Burridge examines whether the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and the different types of ethical material within the Bible, especially the New Testament, can still be of any assistance in facing the issues of money, sexuality, power and violence, and the value of human life today.

Jesus talked more about money than about anything else. Can the teachings of a penniless ancient ascetic be applied to debates about Brexit, the legacy of Occupy camps, protests about global capitalism, rate-fixing, or insider trading – or wider investment not only in defence, alcohol or tobacco but also positive in the environment, sustainability and good governance. Professor Burridge considers ethical material across the New Testament, drawing upon experience as the Deputy Chair of the Church of England’s Ethical Investment Advisory Group.

Is ‘morality’ principally about sex, or ‘naughty vicars’? Despite Henry VIII, the Church has found divorce difficult, especially for clergy and bishops, let alone equal marriage for same-sex couples, the role of women in ordained ministry and transgender issues. Professor Burridge examines the relevant references in the New Testament (which are surprisingly fewer than references to money or violence) particularly in the context of ancient Jewish and Roman assumptions. Can a ‘biblical’ view of sexuality and gender assist today’s ethical debates?

Recent advances in medical science have brought complex ethical dilemmas, particularly around the beginning of human lives (abortion, embryo research, IVF, gene therapy, stem cells) and its ending (switching off ventilators, persistent vegetative state (PVS) and ‘dying with dignity’ or assisted suicide). Although none of these topics occurs directly in the New Testament, references to ‘life’ abound, and healing was the centre of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Can our approach enable the Biblical material to assist contemporary medical debates?

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