Academic Programs 

Theological Ethics and Public Life   (ET-546)
January Interession and Winter/Spring 2007

Ethics involves examining life in an attempt to interpret what is going on. Theological ethics undertakes this examination with the conviction that all things exist in relation to God. In this course we will survey models of our common life that have prevailed in western Christianity in the modern period, reflect on the religious symbols, stories, practices and habits by which we make sense of what is going on in public life, and consider what possibilities exist for fostering a civil society. Issues to be considered include religion and politics, human rights, war and revolution, and the treatment of animals.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., on February 7 and 28, March 7, 14, 21 and 28, April 11, 18 and 25, and May 2

Ian Markham
Professor of Theology and Ethics

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9500



Course Syllabus

Aims of Course:
-To reflect on the relationship of Christian theology to major themes of our corporate life
-To encourage students to form a view about the major issues facing our society
-To enhance student skills around presentations and the assessment of arguments.

Objective of Course
At the end of the course, students will:
- be able to reflect intelligently on the main biblical and theological themes around society
- have been challenged to form a view about central questions in modern society
- have made a presentation and cultivated their study skills through various exercises.

Course Structure
The first session is February 7 (9.30am). The second session is February 28 (9.30am). In between students are required to work in teams and prepare brief presentations – in a debate format - on one of the following topics:
- ‘This house believes that Christians should not be involved in politics’
- ‘This house believes that capitalism is fundamentally incompatible with the Christian ethic’.
- ‘This house believes that Christians should be pacifist’.
- ‘This house believes that Christians should support animal rights and be vegetarians’.
- ‘This house believes that all Christians should work for a Christian society’.

In the first session, each student will be placed into a team four or six. During the next two weeks, the students within each team should work out the key arguments for each side of the debate. Then on February 28 each team will make a presentation. It will follow a standard debate format: Proposer of the motion (5 minutes); Opposer of the motion (5 minutes). Rebuttal (proposer – 3 minutes); rebuttal (opposer – 3 minutes). Questions. And then a vote.

The purpose of this section is to invite some initial reflection on key questions which will be explored in the course.


March 7: Ethical Methodology – Basics of Moral Philosophy. Relativism and moral objectivity.

March 14: A Biblical Social Ethic (Using the Bible).

March 21: Natural Law and Human Rights.

March 28: A Christian View of the State. Or can you be a Christian and vote Democrat or Republican?

April 4 (Spring Break)

April 11: Christianity and Toleration.

April 18: War and Peace: is it every justified to take up arms?

April 25: Animals and the Environment.

May 2: Living the Faith.


Required Text book
Robin Gill, A Textbook of Christian Ethics, 3rd edition.

Book Report must be written on:
Ian Markham, Do Morals Matter?.


1. Presentation in a team. 40%
2. Reading Sheets 20%
3. Book Report on Do Morals Matter? 40%

Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500