As somebody who teaches Bible to college students at my local church, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated by popular misconceptions about Christianity that seem merely to confuse people for the sake of sounding novel. For instance, the claim that Jesus didn’t come to make people good confuses people who do not read theology books for a living.
In a post over at Reknew, Greg Boyd makes the claim (by title and content) that Jesus and by extension the New Testament do not teach ethical behavior. Here are some quotes:
Jesus did the same thing throughout his ministry. He was not calling people to a new ethical system; he was calling people to life. When someone wanted him to settle an inheritance dispute with a brother, for instance, he responded, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” (Luke 12:14). He was telling the man that he did not come to give definitive answers to our many difficult ethical questions. He rather came to offer an alternative way of living to all ethical systems.The New Testament is not about ethical behavior; it’s about a radical new way of living.
The doctrines of morality or social manners; the science of moral philosophy, which teaches men their duty and the reasons of it.
A term drawn from Greek philosophy, “ethics” denotes an effort to present norms of behavior in a systematic way that shows their internal, rational coherence.
L. William Countryman, “Ethics,” ed. David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, and Astrid B. Beck, Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 431.