The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
The Joseph Sittler Archives — The Expanding Scope of Grace
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In his ethical thinking, Joseph Sittler gave attention to both individual and societal issues. The heart of his ethics is found in his 1957 Rockwell lectures at Rice University, The Structure of Christian Ethics (reprinted 1998, Westminster John Knox Press). Jesus Christ stands at the center of Sittler’s ethical vision, which he calls “biblical ethics.” From Scripture, he fashioned a basic conviction: “The term engendering is used to assert that the organic relationship between God and man structured into existence in creation, incarnated into absolute involvement in redemption, persists and inwardly determines the realm of sanctification, that is, the field of Christian ethics” (SCE, 25). Sittler argues that the Bible does not give us ethical rules or propositions. Jesus rather offers us a pattern of response to God that is “now here, now there” (51), like “lightning flashes of God’s love-gift” or “like a gull that suddenly swoops down and picks up something out of the waters” (50). This approach has been linked with the “situation ethics” that was widely encouraged in the 1950s and 1960s. Within this trajectory, Sittler was emphatic, however, that in every situation it is Jesus Christ who engenders our action. This approach guided Sittler’s ethics in all areas, including his writings on the environment and urban church policy.

A sample of materials on the Ethics available from the Archives

  • The Structure of Christian Ethics, with an introduction by Franklin Sherman. Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, Book (The material was originally presented by Joseph Sittler as the Rockwell Lectures at Rice University, Houston, and subsequently published as The Structure of Christian Ethics by The Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1958.)

  • See also references under Aging and Environment/Ecology




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The Anguish of Preaching by Joseph Sittler

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