Original Research

Constructing a non-foundational theological approach to Christian ethics

David A. van Oudtshoorn
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a2792 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2792 | © 2015 David A. van Oudtshoorn | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 21 July 2014 | Published: 17 September 2015

About the author(s)

David A. van Oudtshoorn, Systematic and Practical Theology, Perth Bible College, Australia; Academic Associate of the Department of Christian Spirituality, Church History and Missiology, School of Humanities, University of South Africa, South Africa

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Postmodernism challenges the idea of any foundational truth on which theoretical and operational systems may be built. This has led to a meta-ethical revision of the resuppositions underlying different ethical systems. This article offers a meta-ethical critique of the possibility of constructing a Christian ethical system. It is argued that the general concept of ethics cannot be used as a foundation on which to build any Christian ethical system, as the Christian faith opposes a number of key meta-ethical assumptions for ethics. At the same time Christianity must be careful not to isolate itself from rational ethical debates through succumbing to the temptation of fideism. While the Christian faith may utilise certain ethical categories, and must permit itself to be judged by other ethical systems, it also has to develop its own unique response to reflect the faith, hope and love which the good news of Christ offers to broken sinners in a broken world.


meta-ethics; Christian ethics; foundationalism; post-modernism; faith; grace; hope


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