A Pneumatological Approach to Virtue Ethics
There are two kinds of people in the world: those who think there are two kinds of people, and those who think it’s not that simple. When it comes to ethics and morality I am one of those who think it is that simple and that the world can be divided between Christians and everyone else.
This is not to say that the group labeled “Christians” consists of people who are inherently more moral or ethical than those “everyone else.” Because of God’s common grace, both groups have access to the “law written on the heart” and have the ability to act in accordance with the natural law. Where we differ is that Christians also have the special revelation of Scripture and the Incarnation. The ultimate source for Christian ethics, therefore, must be founded on God and the work of His son, Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, this is often not the case and our ethical theories tend to be as indistinguishable from non-believers as are our moral actions.
Without digressing into an extended critique of the ethical theories typically embraced by Christians (deontological, Divine Command, natural law, etc.) I want to point out that they tend to share a common trait. Almost all of these theories focus on epistemological questions such as how we can know the good or how we can discern “ought” from “is”. As essential as these questions are to moral philosophy they tend to distract us from the more pressing issue of how we are able to do what is moral.