Live the Life — Ethics
Taught by Dr. Aldon Preston
February 14–15, 2014
A thought-provoking overview of Christian morality and ethics
Live the Life
This class focuses on developing a basis for making ethical decisions. While it seems that it should be easy to look at Scripture and know the ethical thing to do, life does not always provide easily decided decisions; and without a basis for ethical decisions ministers would often be lost and confused. This class proposes that Scripture, along with the leading of the Holy Spirit, becomes the basis for all ethical decisions to be made. The Ten Commandments serves as the jumping off point for discussions in these matters.
While the class is based upon Scripture it is not just another theological discussion. The author and the teacher use real life examples of practical ministry that is designed to get the student thinking through the process of decision making in a way that is effective and pleasing to God. Time is given for discussion and students are divided into teams to give class presentations, and each team is assigned one of the original Ten Commandments to present. Each student is also asked to prepare a written essay on one of the commandments and explain not only what it means but why it is hard for many people to implement in their daily life and ministry.
Dr. Aldon Preston
Dr. Aldon Preston is a fourth-generation member of the IPHC. He grew up in California and attended California State University, Oral Roberts University, Pacific Coast Bible College, and eventually earned a doctorate from the Pentecostal Church of God Seminary in San Jacinto California. He has also taken classes at SCU and earned a certificate as a Life Coach. He has served local churches as a youth pastor, associate pastor, worship leader, church planter, and senior pastor. He has also held a number of Conference positions including: teacher at Advantage College, Assistant CE Director, CEM director, Men's Ministries Director, and is presently the Assistant Superintendent of the Heartland Conference. In addition to his conference duties, he is also the pastor of Starlight Ministries in Stillwater, Oklahoma and is a widowed father of a 13 year old son. Life stays busy and often interesting as he goes about the Father's business.
Mere Morality: What God Expects from Ordinary People
by Lewis B. Smedes
Is there a morality that shows us how to survive as a humane community? Can we know what God expects of the human family? Is there a morality for ordinary people?
In this book, the author of Sex for Christians and Love within Limits explores the way to moral sanity amid the confusions and crises of contemporary life. We do not, says Smedes, have a "moral map" to mark out the details of our route in advance, but neither are we left to grope and improvise at every step.
The focus of Smedes's study is the commandments -- in particular those five of the Ten Commandments which call us to respect other persons: "Honor your father and mother"; "You shall not kill"; "You shall not commit adultery"; "You shall not steal"; "You shall not bear false witness." Each of these commandments pinpoints the moral nucleus of one sector of life in community -- family, marriage, property, communication, and the preservation of life itself.
Using these commandments as a basis, Smedes asks three questions: What does God command us to do? Why does he command this? And how can we obey this in the ambiguities and conflicts of real life?
Smedes answers the first question by extracting the simple meaning of the commands. He probes answers to the second question -- why? -- on the premise that a reasonable Creator commands his creatures only to be what they are and to act in ways that fit their nature as human beings in community. "Moral norms are not alien," claims Smedes, "they conform to our being."
It is in answering how to obey these commandments in ordinary life that Smedes moves from the ancient words at Sinai to the troubled twentieth-century context in which we live. This is not always an easy task. The commandment may signal a clear moral direction, but determining whether and how its absolute fits into each new situation will require patient common sense, tough-minded reason, and devout faith. Such painful struggles, for which Smedes provides eloquent guidance are at the core of responsible moral living.
The pre-class work is to read the book and to write a paper on the topic, "Commandment # ___ is hard to implement in today's society because —" The paper should be at least two pages long.
I'll give you a warning ahead of time. People get really upset with this book at the outset because it really makes them think, and at the beginning he almost appears to be anti-christian in his thinking. By the time the class was over everyone walked away with a new appreciation for the ten commandments and the challenges of modern living.