It’s been challenging and exciting as I develop the syllabus, select textbooks and extra readings, and do a lot of my own study from the vast array of viewpoints that are available as to how to tackle such an important topic.
The framework I’ve got for the course is this:
2 ½ weeks — study of the various theories of creating an ethic. The text for this section of the course will be Steve Wilkins, Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right & Wrong. Wilkins uses the concept of “bumper stickers” as a way to help students understand differing philosophical approaches to ethics (like “Look out for number one” for Ethical Egoism and “It’s your duty” for Kantian ethics).
5 weeks — study of a Christian approach to creating an ethic. The main text for this section will be Paul Marshall’s Heaven is Not My Home: Living in the NOW of God’s Creation. In this part of the class, I will seek to try to help the students understand “Worldview.” Marshall clearly teaches the Christian narrative of Creation-Fall-Redemption, and then shows how every aspect of what we do now in this life has great significance (
6 weeks — discussions on particular contemporary ethical issues. For this part of the class, I’m using David Clark and Robert Rakestraw’s book, Readings in Christian Ethics, which covers just about every issue in our society. The book offers at least four differing viewpoints through essays and book excerpts from leading Christian thinkers. The students will be making group presentations as they grapple with how to apply their emerging ethical framework to these issues.
Along the way, I will have them read stuff from Walsh and Middleton's Transforming Vision: Shaping a Christian World View, Mike Whitmer's Heaven is a Place on Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters to God, Dennis Hollinger's Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World, Stan Grenz's The Moral Quest: Foundations of Christian Ethics, Scot McKnight's Embracing Grace, Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart, as well as many other articles from the web and that I've put on reserve in the library.