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A critical study of Norman L. Geisler's ethical hierarchicalism

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dc.contributor.advisor Hulley, L. D. Du Preez, Ron, 1951- en 2015-01-23T04:24:39Z 2015-01-23T04:24:39Z 1997-02 en
dc.identifier.citation Du Preez, Ron, 1951- (1997) A critical study of Norman L. Geisler's ethical hierarchicalism, University of South Africa, Pretoria, <> en
dc.description.abstract At least from the time of Augustine, Christians have been reflecting on the question of moral conflicts. Since the mid-1960s this issue has become the center of attention for several scholars, including Norman L. Geisler, who developed ethical hierarchicalism in an attempt to resolve these conflicts. The question therefore arises: Is ethical hierarchicalism comprehensive, consistent, and biblically sound, and the only viable approach for Christians, as Geisler claims? Because Geisler is the most articulate and influential proponent of this strategy, his ethical method was selected for this research. To provide some framework, a brief survey was made of various methods relating to ethical dilemmas. In addition to observing the contrasting ways in which eminent early Christians, Reformation leaders, post-Reformation thinkers, and twentieth-century scholars have dealt with moral conflicts, this overview examined utilitarianism, situationism, non-conflicting absolutism, conflicting absolutism, hierarchicalism and the principle of double effect. Additional background traced Geisler's philosophical, theological, and ethical development over the years. Then, after outlining what Geisler considers the fundamental presuppositions of theistic morality and Christian ethics, hierarchicalism was delineated. Next, Geisler's moral methodology was critiqued, firstly against his own basic presuppositions, then by comparing contradictory concepts within hierarchicalism, and finally by contrasting his theories with those of other Christian thinkers, and with the biblical passages that Geisler uses. Following this, positive aspects of hierarchicalism were enumerated, a synopsis and recommendations made, and a final conclusion drafted. This study indicates that ethical hierarchicalism contradicts most of the essential characteristics of theistic morality and Christian ethics as specified by Geisler himself. careful research suggests that, while this theory holds to divinely-derived objective moral norms, it also embraces relativistic, utilitarian, situational, antinomian, and teleological components. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that hierarchicalism is based on falsely assumed responsibilities, inaccurately specified absolutes, naturalistic definitions, a descriptive approach to Scripture, a bifurcation in God's law, and subtle semantic strategies. Though hierarchicalism does grapple with difficult issues, emphasize personhood and individual responsibility, and offer relief from false guilt, this method of moral reasoning appears unacceptable for Christians since it is incoherent, inconsistent, self-contradictory, and unscriptural. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (v, 341 leaves) en
dc.language.iso en
dc.subject.ddc 241 en
dc.subject.lcsh Geisler, Norman L. en
dc.subject.lcsh Christian ethics en
dc.title A critical study of Norman L. Geisler's ethical hierarchicalism en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.department Theological Ethics en D.Th, (Theological Ethics) en

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