SCRIPTURE AND CHRISTIAN ETHICS: AN EVALUATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE USES OF SCRIPTURE IN THE WORKS OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH

WILLIAM FRANCIS MCINERNY, Marquette University

Abstract

Few contemporary scholarly works actually relate Scripture and Christian ethics. Consequently, a general hiatus exists between the disciplines of theological ethics and biblical studies. The works of Walter Rauschenbusch are an exception to this common situation. When formulating and expressing his moral positions, Rauschenbusch made frequent and extensive appeals to Scripture. He did not, however, make his methodology for relating biblical materials to Christian ethics sufficiently explicit. The general topic of this dissertation is the usage of Scripture in Christian ethics. More specifically, this study analyzes and evaluates the uses of Scripture in the works of Walter Rauschenbusch. By analytically and historically scrutinizing his writings, this dissertation demonstrates the following points: (1) Rauschenbusch maintained a twofold conception of the Bible as a set of historical documents and as Christian Scripture. His attempt to integrate the time conditioned character of these writings with their normative status in Christian faith led to his distinctive paradigmatic uses of Scripture. (2) He thought of Christian ethics primarily in terms of character formation. Consequently, his foremost use of Scripture throughout his ethical writings was to influence and shape Christian character formation. (3) To help form the kind of persons he believed Christians ought to be, Rauschenbusch appealed to biblical paradigms that embodied a specific vision of reality and value together with consonant dispositions and intentions engendered by that vision. He considered these biblical visions, dispositions, and intentions norms of authentic Christian character. (4) Rauchenbusch's paradigmatic appeals took seven major forms: "Jesus" and topic collages, allusions, free renderings, story telling, character renderings, and social principles. In his thought these paradigms expressed a vision of reality, value, specific dispositions, and intentions befitting true Christian morality. (5) Finally, this study identifies three thought patterns inherent in Rauschenbusch's uses of Scripture which can help bridge the present divergence between biblical studies and Christian ethics. This dissertation demonstrates the substantial validity of Rauschenbusch's uses of Scripture and shows how his paradigmatic appeals can be used as points of departure for understanding and evaluating current attempts to relate the Bible and Christian ethics.

Recommended Citation

WILLIAM FRANCIS MCINERNY, "SCRIPTURE AND CHRISTIAN ETHICS: AN EVALUATIVE ANALYSIS OF THE USES OF SCRIPTURE IN THE WORKS OF WALTER RAUSCHENBUSCH" (January 1, 1984). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8422826.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8422826

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