Only the how is relative, not the why. To cite but one theory among Christian moral systems which are very close in temper to what we are proposing, there are the principles of so-called "compensationism. When Edmund Wilson ran his famous article in The New Yorker some ten years ago on the Dead Sea Scrolls he made quite a splash by saying that Jesus' teaching was a copy of the Essenes' teaching at the Qumran community. Ex factis oritur jus. Nor was Dietrich Bonhoeffer entirely correct when he identified what he called ethical "formalism" with casuistry. As the Christian situationist sees it, his faith answers for him three questions of the seven always to be asked. But unlike classical casuistry, this neocasuistry repudiates the attempt to anticipate or prescribe real-life decisions in their existential particularity.
He knows the why; for God's sake. Or perhaps somebody will ask if a man should ever lie to his wife, or desert his family, or spy on a business rival's design or market plans, or fail to report some income item in his tax return. As Whitehead remarked , "The simpleminded use of the notions 'right or wrong' is one of the chief obstacles to the progress of understanding". They like better to latch on to a few well-anchored constants, sanctioned in law, and ignore all the variables. There the mechanical man had the special grace of always doing "what he was wound up to do," but wanted instead to be human. Again, the answer cannot be an answer, it can only be another question. Looking back in the history of Christian ethics from this vantage point, we can see that there is, after all, no discredit to the old-fashioned casuists, nor to the Talmudists, in the old saying that they continually made new rules for the breaking of old rules. Nor was Dietrich Bonhoeffer entirely correct when he identified what he called ethical "formalism" with casuistry. We cannot blow hot or cold, or lukewarm, sounding an uncertain note about the obligation itself. Whether what you are doing is right or not depends precisely upon where the chips fall. Many people prefer to fit reality to rules rather than to fit rules to reality. But in his instructions to the jury, Judge Homer Weimer pointed out that while we all have a right to make public speeches, we all have an obligation to calculate the consequences for the general welfare. When a lady in Arizona learned, a few years ago, that she might bear a defective baby because she had taken thalidomide, bow was she to decide? By faith we live in the past, by hope we live in the future , but by love we live in the present. Stodgy and system-oriented as the compensationists were e. Eliot was right to say that people cannot bear too much reality. This neocasuistry is, like classical casuistry, case-focused and concrete, concerned to bring Christian imperatives into practical operation. It is right or wrong to follow a principle only according to who gets hurt, and how much. What is constructive in one era may not be in another; James Russell Lowell's hymn is right, "Time makes ancient good uncouth. LeClercq, Christ and the Modern Conscience, pp. Even today, in spite of a revival of Biblical theology, three difficulties about an agapeic ethic remain: Love can even love law, if law knows its place and takes the back seat. There is no way to answer such questions". Her husband took her to Sweden, where love has more control of law, and there she was aborted. It is sparking or cultivating a kind of neocasuistry. It must be confessed that the neocasuists do not always render justice to the classical casuistry.
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