Notes from Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Glen H. Stassen & David P. Gushee IVP Academic Downers Grove, Illinois 2003
2. The way of Jesus and prophetic authority
Jesus knew the Scriptures well, used them in his ministry, and ‘lived within the narrative horizon’ established by them.
Jesus challenged traditions of his day through his understanding of the Scriptures.
Jesus Christ is alive. Encountering him through the Scriptures, as part of the community of faith, remains a legitimate source of authority for Christian ethics.
Jesus was faithful to the Hebrew Scriptures and to Jewish piety in the same way the great prophets of Israel were. P91 So, Jesus interpreted the Torah as a gracious divine covenant. He put greater emphasis on the moral aspects of the Law over the cultic aspects. He was concerned about the inward, heart, aspect of life.
No moral question or issue can be addressed adequately from a Christian perspective without consideration of the meaning of Jesus Christ. By ‘meaning of Jesus Christ’ the authors include his life and ministry as well as his incarnation, death and resurrection. A whole Christ is needed for a rounded approach to ethics.
There are four levels of moral norms: particular/immediate judgment level, rules level, principles level, basic conviction level.
For Christians, God’s character, actions and will constitute the basic conviction level. P106
The authors draw attention to a ‘tradition of evasion’ within books on Christian ethics. The Sermon on the Mount has been either ignored or qualified in works on Christian ethics.
The Sermon on the Mount is often understood in terms of high moral ideals. The authors suggest that the Sermon is about ‘transforming initiatives’ for genuine kingdom life. They analyse the sermon by identifying 14 triads, e.g. 5:38-42, 5.38 (the traditional righteousness), 5.39 (the vicious cycle), 5:40-42 (the transforming initiative)