I’m honored to lead a lecture series on Christian ethics beginning tonight at Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church here in Jackson. Below is the outline for each week.
This four-week lecture series seeks to offer an introductory reflection on Christian ethics for and in the Church, God’s peculiar people. As disciples of Jesus Christ we are called out of the world yet remain in the world. We are commissioned to be Holy Spirit-empowered ambassador thereto. Yet Christians have historically wrestled with the relationships between soul salvation and social engagement, and how exactly should we relate to the fallen world God so loves. As Christians of African descent in the modern US context, we bring to this conversation added frustrations. What does it mean to live in a “Christian” nation that has acted persistently in antichristian ways against neighbor and the least of these? And how have congregations and denominations, our own and others, failed to be obedient to the Christ’s call to holiness of life and of society?
Each day these and many other ethical questions arise. More often, the question with which we wrestle seem more mundane. Everything to fashion to food choices, educational options to economic advancement, call us as believers to think with renewed minds and act with the fruit of the Spirit. How we treat children and elders, how we vote, where we live, and who we marry are all ethical concerns. From the individual matters of the heart to the collective concerns of communities, we are pressed to hear or give a word from the Lord that will direct us toward the right path.
But all of these questions, whether big or small, are not always easily answered and clichés and gimmicks simply won’t do. We know what the consequences of unfaithfulness in a romantic or business relationship feels like; we know how it feels to be treated unjustly. But what is the way forward? What, if anything, are we Christians to do? And what are we to do when professing Christians are the ones doing evil?
Consulting the Scriptures, classical Christian reflections, modern Western theologians, and contemporary liberationist and womanist voices, these lectures will invite the student into an intergenerational conversation about what it means to follow Jesus as Church in the world.
Our four-week journey is outlined below:
“You Must Be Born Again”: Sanctification as Christian Ethics
This session will first define the academic subject of Christian ethics broadly and then focus on the soteriological (doctrines of salvation) prerequisites for the disciple’s ethical discernment and living in Christ Jesus. Important to the latter will be the significance of sanctification in progressively transforming our desires and habits toward God honoring witness. If regeneration is about being born again, then sanctification is about growing up again. Thus, sanctification as Christian ethics asks, “What does it mean to grow ethically in grace by the power of the Holy Spirit?”
Peculiar People in an Unholy Nation: Spiritual Formation and the Witness of the Church
This session will outline how disciples of Jesus Christ must resist the individualism and consumerism of the modern US worldview in favor of an ecclesiological (doctrines of the church) understanding of community. As Christians, we are called out of the world, are no longer of the world, but are still in the world, for the world. How are we, as Church, called to live? We will discuss how the Church, when faithful to Christ, is an example of ethical life together and can be an agent of transformation.
“The Spirit of the Lord is Upon Me”: Social Justice and the Ministry of the Holy Spirit
This session will address the Church’s social responsibility as salt and light in the world, especially as it regards neighbor-love and the least of these. It will also maintain the unique role pneumatology (doctrines of the Holy Spirit) plays in the Church’s justice work and witness. Called to both evangelism and activism, the Church is faithful to Christ when the Church demonstrates the Gospel both in care of souls and social justice. We will attend to the Church’s ministry with and for the poor, right relationships with wealth, and what the Gospel has to say about healthcare, the prison industrial complex, and psychological wholeness.
WWJD?: Scripture, the Savior, and Sexuality in Today’s World
This session will wrestle with the authority of Scripture in ethical discernment, particularly as it relates to Christian anthropology (doctrines of humanity) and sexuality. At issue will be the interface of the sacred Scriptures, modern scientific understandings of the human body, contemporary debates about marriage and monogamy, and the hyper-sexualization of popular culture. We will also interrogate what a single and celibate Jesus has to say, if anything, about sex, its goodness and abuse, and what are the ethical expressions and uses of sexuality for Christians. We will also address the Church’s response to gender injustice, domestic violence, and HIV/AIDS.