Human?

I’ll be teaching a couple of section of Introduction to Ethics this fall. This will be the first time I’ve taught this course in several years, and the first time ever at Wiley College. When I taught it at NTCC I taught it from a purely secular point of view, since NTCC is a public community college. Wiley is a Christian college, so though the adopted text is not written from a Christian point of view, I am allowed and encouraged to do so.

Some people might think, Oh, Christian point of view – that must mean divine commands. I believe there are divine commands, and that those commands are worth obeying, but, no, that’s not where I start. I also don’t start a step of abstraction away from that with deontology. I also don’t begin with consequentialism, natural law or natural rights. For me, the starting point is asking what we are as humans and where we find ourselves in time and space.

Put very briefly, I start with the assumption that humans are made in God’s image. Being made in God’s image is not primarily substantial: our bodily appearance, our reason, or our speech. It’s not even our inherent relationality. Rather, being made in God’s image is a calling, a task, to image God to the broader creation (including other humans). Our primary model for figuring out both what this looks like and how to do it is Jesus, God incarnate. Stanley Hauerwas takes a similar approach in this short video:

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