CHET 60013 Introduction to Theological Ethics
3 semester hours, Brite Divinity School, Fort Worth, Texas, Spring 2020
Tuesday, 1:00-3:30, Moore 309

Instructor: Charles Bellinger 817-257-7668

Prerequisites: none.

Description of Content: This course will survey the major methodological questions of theological ethics, its thematic subdivisions, and the schools of thought and individual authors who have shaped the discussion of ethical questions within the theological world. Topics addressed will include: the Bible and ethics, philosophical schools of moral thought, violence and war, gender and sexuality, natural law, virtue, social justice, ecology, and liberation.

Course Objectives:
1. Students will be introduced to key vocabulary terms in theological ethics.
2. Students will read and respond in writing to some of the key authors, topics, and schools of thought in theological ethics.
3. Students will develop critical thinking skills at the intersection of theological anthropology and ethics.


Course procedures:
1. Lectures.
2. In-class discussions.


Requirements and grading:
1. Class participation and comments* on reading assignments (15%).
*By midnight on the day before a class meeting, each student needs to email me three (one sentence) statements and/or questions related to the reading assignments for that week.
2. Vocabulary quiz (10%).
3. Five take-home exams, 4-5 pages [double-spaced, include page numbers, no separate title page needed] (75%). [Note: there are six exams on the schedule; students may choose, if they wish, to skip one of those exams, or to do all six and have the one with the lowest grade removed from the final grading calculation.]


Bellinger, Charles. The Trinitarian Self: The Key to the Puzzle of Violence. Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick, 2008. ISBN: 9781556352324, $19

Brooks, Arthur C. Love Your Enemies: How Decent People Can Save America from the Culture of Contempt. New York: Broadside Books, 2019. ISBN-13: 978-0062883759, $25.

Cone, James. The Cross and the Lynching Tree. Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 2011. ISBN-13: 978-1626980051, $20

Wallis, Jim. America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2016. ISBN-13: 978-1587434006, $13

Wells, Samuel, Ben Quash, and Rebekah Eklund. Introducing Christian Ethics, 2nd ed. Hoboken, N. J.: John Wiley & Sons, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-1119155720, $27  [W-Q-E below]


There will be additional readings assigned by the instructor during the semester. Students must have the ability to check their TCU email account and do so regularly, because I will communicate with you in that way regarding reading assignments and other course matters. See:





lecture/discussion topics

reading assignments

Week 1

Jan. 14

Introduction to course

Week 2

Jan. 21

vocabulary quiz

W-Q-E, ch. 1 [God]
Excerpts from Kierkegaard
Bellinger: 14-26

Week 3

Jan. 28

paper on SK / Barth / Bonhoeffer

W-Q-E, ch. 2 [Church]

excerpts from Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Week 4

Feb. 4

W-Q-E, ch. 8 [Good Order]
excerpts from Bonhoeffer, R. Niebuhr, Barth, John Ford, John Howard Yoder, and Rachel Goosen

Week 5

Feb. 11

paper on pacifism and just war

W-Q-E, ch. 3-4 [Ethics and Christian Ethics]

excerpts from Martin Luther King, Jr., Stanley Hauerwas, and Jean Bethke Elshtain

Week 6

Feb. 18

Ministers Week, no class

Week 7

Feb. 25

W-Q-E, ch. 5 [Universal Ethics]

James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, xiii-92
R. Niebuhr, excerpts on race

Week 8

March 3

paper on Cone

W-Q-E, ch. 6 [Subversive Ethics]

James Cone, The Cross and the Lynching Tree, 93-166
Francis Wayland and W.E.B. DuBois excerpts

Week 9

March 10

Spring Break, no class

Week 10

March 17

W-Q-E, ch. 7 [Ecclesial Ethics]
Wallis, America’s Original Sin, xiii-72

Week 11

March 24

W-Q-E, ch. 9 [Good Life]

Wallis, America’s Original Sin, 73-154

Week 12

March 31

paper on Wallis

W-Q-E, ch. 10 [Good Relationships]


Wallis, America’s Original Sin, 155-226

Week 13

April 7

April 10 Good Friday

Bellinger: ix-13, 27-82
King: “The Three Dimensions of a Complete Life”
excerpts from Susan Parsons, Feminism and Christian Ethics

Week 14

April 14

paper on Bellinger

Bellinger: 83-156

George W. Bush and Brian McLaren excerpts

Week 15

April 21

W-Q-E, ch. 11 [Good Beginnings and Endings]

Brooks, Love Your Enemies, 1-107

Week 16

April 28

paper on Brooks, no class

W-Q-E, ch. 12 [Good Earth]

Brooks, Love Your Enemies, 109-214

Week 17

May 5

[Finals Week, no class, no final]


Email Notification:

Only the official Brite student email address will be used for all course notification. It is your responsibility to check your email on a regular basis.


Late Work Policy:

Work turned in up to 24 hours after the deadline will receive a one grade notch reduction (from A- to B+, for example); work turned in 24-48 hours late will receive a two notch reduction; work turned in 48 hours to one week late will receive a three notch reduction. After that, no credit will be given. If a student has special extenuating circumstances, he or she can request an extension of the deadline by contacting the instructor.

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Brite Divinity School is an institution that values diversity and challenges structures that intentionally or unintentionally encourage discrimination. As such, we do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, social class, age, disability status, citizenship status, membership or application for membership in a uniformed service, or any other category protected by applicable law. Where there are discrepancies with Federal and State policies, they supersede Brite’s policies.

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Brite is committed to promoting a diverse and just environment, in which language and practices support the achievement of inclusion. Specifically, Brite seeks to remove all barriers to the maintenance and aspirations of its Mission Statement and NonDiscrimination Statement in the following ways:

           Brite Divinity School promotes the intentional use of Inclusive language. This includes reference to such matters as language about God and humanity as noted in our Nondiscrimination and Inclusion Statement. Inclusive language in the classroom, chapel, and in common discourse is expected of students, staff, and faculty.

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Brite Divinity School complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding students with disabilities. Eligible students seeking accommodations should contact TCU’s Coordinator, Student Disabilities Services, located in Sadler Hall 1010. Accommodations are not retroactive; therefore, students should contact the Coordinator as soon as possible in the term for which they are seeking accommodations. Further information can be obtained from Student Disabilities Services, Sadler Hall 1010, TCU Box 297710, Fort Worth, TX 76129, or at 817-257-6567.

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Any act that violates the academic integrity of the institution is considered academic misconduct. The procedures used to resolve suspected acts of academic misconduct are available in the Student Handbook and the Office of the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

TCU Campus Resources for Students:

Many resources exist on the TCU campus that may be helpful to students: Mary Couts Burnett Library (817-257-7117); Student Disabilities Services (817-257-6567, Sadler Hall 1010); the William L. Adams Writing Center (817-257-7221, Reed Hall 419; and 817-257-6520, Library Annex); Student Development Services (817-257-7855, Brown Lupton University Union 2003); and The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life (817-257-7830, Jarvis Hall First Floor).

Statement on Title IX at Brite:

As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create an engaging learning environment on our campus. It is my goal that you feel able to share information related to your life experiences in classroom discussions, in your written work, and in our one-on-one meetings. I will seek to keep any information your share private to the greatest extent possible. However, I have a mandatory reporting responsibility under Brite/TCU policy and federal law and I am required to share any information I receive regarding sexual harassment, discrimination, and related conduct with Brite’s Title IX Coordinator. Students can receive confidential support and academic advocacy by contacting Brite’s Confidential Advocate, Rev. Megan Peglar, or the Counseling & Mental Health Center at  or by calling (817) 257-7863. Alleged violations can be reported to the Title IX officer at Brite, Dean Michael Miller. Should you wish to make a confidential report, the Title IX officer will seek to maintain your privacy to the greatest extent possible, but cannot guarantee confidentiality. Reports to law enforcement can be made to the Fort Worth Police Department at 911 for an emergency and (817) 335-4222 for non-emergency or TCU Police at (817) 257-7777.

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Brite Divinity School educates and inspires people to serve God’s diverse world as leaders in churches, the academy, and public life.