18th March 2022

The first of the Lent Conversations for 2022, organised by Churches Together in Clifton, Cotham and Redland took place earlier this week on Zoom. Leading the session, the Dean of Bristol Cathedral, the Very Reverend Mandy Ford, asked the question ‘Is there a distinctive Christian ethic?’ She made the point that the other Abrahamic faiths –  Judaism and Islam – set out rules to guide and govern moral behaviour, the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament being a prime example.

However, rather than having such strict limits, Christianity on the other hand has a series of sayings by Jesus – including for example the Beatitudes (‘Blessed are the….’) – which leave us with guiding principles we can then employ in situations where ethical decisions have to be made. In this way, Christ hands the responsibility to us to make moral judgments, and act as we consider appropriate. ‘Come on,’ he says to us, ‘over to you!’

This attunes with everything Christ encourages us to be in the Gospels – compassionate,  thinking, and mature persons, taking responsibility for our actions. We make the best decisions we can in the circumstances, and thereby set the bar for the way we are to be judged for what we do. Jesus said, ‘The judgment you give will be the judgment you get’, that is, the way we treat others in this life will be the way God judges us in the next. Jesus included the same idea in the Prayer he gave to his disciples, ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’

‘Over to you!’ he says.

David Bell