Christian Ethics: How Should We Live?The field of ethics or moral philosophy involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong behavior. Philosophers today usually divide ethical theories into three general subject areas: metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. Metaethics investigates where our ethical principles come from, and what they mean. Are they merely social inventions? Do they involve more than expressions of our individual emotions? Metaethical answers to these questions focus on the issues of universal truths, the will of God, the role of reason in ethical judgments, and the meaning of ethical terms themselves. Normative ethics takes on a more practical task, which is to arrive at moral standards that regulate right and wrong conduct.
What makes an act right or wrong, good or bad? Is moral "rightness" and "wrongness" built into the fabric of reality in the same way as are mathematical truths? Is God good because God desires this built-in moral goodness? Or is what is "right" by definition whatever God wills or desires? Since the universe is the manifestation of God's creative will, can we discover God's desire for us by studying ourselves and the creation around us "natural law"? Can an act's "rightness" or "wrongness" ever be determined by the consequences it leads to?
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