A Christian ethic in the modern and postmodern world

Cheong, In Taek (2000)

Thesis (DTh)--Stellenbosch University, 2000

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In seeking to evaluate a Christian ethic in the modern and postmodern world, we should first search for the ethical principles of modernism and of postmodernism. Thereafter, we should attempt to find a common ethical principle in both modernism and postmodernisrn. In this way we can establish whether or not modern and postmodern ethics approximate to Christian ethics. Modern ethics originated from and were established on the concept of 'the self or selfcentrism as defined in this thesis. More exactly, modern ethics were grounded on the basis of the 'reason' of the autonomous self. In this way modern ethics can be characterized by universal laws or universal norms. They served oppressive political norms. In modern times the rational ethics, therefore, correlated with the langauge of totalization and colonization. This modern ethical paradigm was criticized by postmodernists. Postmodernists deconstructed modernist universal norms which were constituted on the concept of 'the self. They discovered 'the other'. Thus the postmodern ethics were developed on the concept of 'the other'. Postmodern ethics are expressed in uncertainty and can be characterized as 'rninimalistic morality'. Even though modern ethics and postmodern ethics were established on different concepts, they have a common principle. We recognized that the this-worldly self-life centrism is a common principle of modern ethics and postmodern ethics. We established this in chapter 2. In Chapter 3 we studied the Christian ethics in the Bible. Christians must follow Christ. Christians must become the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit transforms us into the image of Christ. Therefore, Christ is the origin and model of Christian ethics. But we also investigated the reason why so many believers fail to live Christ-like life. We discovered that the this-worldly life centrism always hinders believers from becoming Christ-like people. We suggested that life-giving love is the core ethical principle in the Bible. In Chapter 4 we applied Biblical Christian ethics to the modern and postmodern world. We found that Christian ethics could not match up with modern and postmodern ethical principles in certain respects. Christian ethics are different from modern and postmodern ethics. From this application we proposed that Christian ethics are not expressed in either modern rationalism or postmodern deconstruction. We disclosed the reason why modern rational ethics and ethics of deconstruction cannot comprehend Christ-like ethics. Modern and postmodern ethics were not established on the model of Christ. Modern and postmodern ethics did not emphasize the life-giving love which Jesus portrayed. In this thesis, therefore, the conclusion is that Christian ethics must be Christ-centric ethics. The Christ-centric ethic that can counter postmodern life comes true in life-giving love. Countering modern rational ethics which are based on the concept of 'the self' or selfcentrism we, Christians, must emphasize suffering and self-giving by loving 'the other', for example: women, the isolated, and so on. Countering postmodern ethics of deconstruction based on the concept of 'the other', 'the other' must strive to become a Christ-like person rather than pursue his/her own perfect self-realization and liberation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Ten einde Christelike etiek in die moderne en postmoderne we reid te evalueer, moet ons eerstens soek vir 'n etiese beginsel ten opsigte van modernisme en postmodernisme, asook 'n gemeenskaplike etiese beginsel van sowel modernisme as postmodernisme. Slegs daarna kan ons klaarheid he of moderne en postmoderne etiek inpas in die Christelike etiek. Moderne etiek het ontstaan uit en is gebaseer op die konsep van 'die self of selfgesentreerdheid, soos na verwys is in hierdie tesis. Om meer presies te wees, moderne etiek het ontwikkel op die grondslag van die 'rede' van die outonome self. Dus kan die moderne etiek op die wyse uitdrukking vind in universele wette of norme. Dit het onderdrukkende politieke stelsels bedien. In moderne tye het die rasionele etiek dus ooreengestem met die taal van kolonialisme en 'n totalitere benadering. Hierdie moderne etiese paradigma is deur die postmoderniste gekritiseer. Postmoderniste het die universele norme gebaseer op die konsep van 'die self deur moderniste, afgetakel. Hulle het 'die ander' ontdek. Die postmoderne etiek is dus ontwikkel op die konsep van 'die ander '. Postmoderne etiek word uitgedruk in onsekerheid en kan gekarakteriseer word as 'geminimaliseerde moraliteit'. Alhoewel moderne etiek en postmoderne etiek op verskillende konsepte gevestig is, het hulle tog 'n gemeenskaplike beginsel. Ons het die gerigtheid op hierdie-wereldse selfgesentreerdheid herken as eie aan beide moderne etiek en postmoderne etiek. Ons het dit in hoofstuk 2 ondersoek. In hoofstuk 3 het ons Christelike etiek in die Bybel bestudeer. Christene moet navolgers van Christus wees. Christene moet Christusgelykvormig word. Die Heilige Gees herskep ons tot die beeld van Christus. Daarom is Christus die oorsprong en die model van Christelike etiek. Ons het ook die rede ondersoek waarom die dissipels Christus nie kon navolg nie. Ons het ontdek dat die hierdie-wereld lewensgesentreerdheid gelowiges altyd verhinder om Christusgelykvormige mense te word. Ons stel voor dat lewegewende liefde die kern etiese beginsel in die Bybel is. In hoofstuk 4 het ons Christelike etiek soos ons dit in die Bybel bestudeer het, toegepas op die moderne en postmoderne wereld. Ons het bevind dat die Christelike etiek op sekere punte nie in lyn gebring kan word met moderne en postmoderne etiek nie. Christelike etiek verskil van moderne en postmoderne etiek. Voortvloeiend uit hierdie toepassing het ons voorgestel dat die Christelike etiek nie kon ontstaan het vanuit die moderne rasionalisme en postmoderne dekonstruksie nie. Ons het die rede blootgele waarom moderne rasionele etiek en dekonstruktiewe etiek nie Christusgelykvormige etiek kan omvat nie. Moderne en postmoderne etiek is nie gevestig op die model van Christus nie. Moderne en postmoderne etiek is nie beklemtoon in die lewegewende liefde wat Jesus gedemonstreer het nie. Die gevolgtrekking in hierdie tesis is dus dat Christelike etiek Christus-sentriese etiek moet wees - Christus-sentriese etiek wat die postmoderne lewensuitkyk kan weerle deur 'n openbaring van lewegewende liefde. Om moderne rasionele etiek gebaseer op die konsep van' die self of selfgesentreerdheid te weerle, moet ons as Christene die klem laat val op lyding en om onsself te gee deur ander lief te he, byvoorbeeld: vroue, die gel soleerdes en ander. Ten einde postmoderne etiek se dekonstruksie gebaseer op 'die ander' te weerle, moet dit 'die ander' se mikpunt wees om Christusgelykvormig te word eerder as om sy volkome selfrealisering en bevryding na te streef.

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