Intro to Ethics

Course Syllabus

Winter 2019


GS450 – Intro to Ethics

Tuesdays, 6:00-9:30pm

Instructor: Sean Henschel, M.A.T.S.

Phone: 619-249-6257


Our Mission:

The Branch College of Ministry exists to develop, equip, and inspire Christian leaders for excellence in ministry to the church.


Course Description:

Students will be introduced to major proposed frameworks for making ethical decisions but will concentrate on forming and applying a Biblical Christian framework. With the Bible as the foundation of morality, coupled with God’s gifts of critical thinking and logic, students will examine and reason through current major ethical issues. Forming a Christian ethic will prove important and beneficial for practical Christian living at home, work, and every place the Christian ventures.


Student Outcomes:

After taking this course students will know or be able to do the following:

1. Explain major ethical frameworks in order to have intelligible and fruitful interaction with non-Christians. This will be accessed in a quiz.

2. Express a Christian ethical framework in order to live out God’s righteousness. This will be assessed in a 3-4 page paper.

3. Outline the main arguments for and against different ethical issues in order to have intelligible and fruitful interaction with Christians and non-Christians. This will be assessed in outlining the textbook chapters through written papers.     

4. Apply a Christian ethical framework in order to propose resolutions to different ethical dilemmas.  This will be assessed in two case papers.


Program Learning Outcomes

This course, when combined with other courses, fulfills the Program Learning Outcomes 3 and 4:

3. Provide efficacious pastoral care and counsel.

4. Rationally defend the truth claims of Christianity.


Institutional Learning Outcomes

This course, when combined with other courses, fulfills the Institutional Learning Outcomes 1, 2, 3, and 4.

1. Demonstrate clear, effective communication of significant material.

2. Conduct competent academic research within a given discipline or field.

3. Utilize critical thinking skills to both evaluate concepts and implement practical solutions in various contexts.

4. Possess the knowledge and skill required to succeed in leadership roles and in service to the community.  


Required Textbooks:

Rae, Scott B. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. 4th ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018.


Bible (NKJV, ESV, or NASB preferred. No paraphrased Bibles please).


Suggested Secondary Texts:

Blackburn, Simon. Being Good. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.


Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Ethics. New York: Simon & Schuster Publishers, 1955.


Chamberlain, Paul. Can We Be Good Without God? Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1996.


Clark, David K. and Robert V. Rakestraw. Readings in Christian Ethics, Volume 1, Theory and Method.

Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.


Frankena, William. Ethics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1973.


Geisler, Norman L. Christian Ethics: Options and Issues. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1989.


Gill, David W. Becoming Good: Building Moral Character. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000.


Gough, Russell W. Character is Destiny: The Value of Personal Ethics in Everyday Life. New York:

Crown Forum, 1998.


Grudem, Wayne. Christian Ethics: An Introduction to Biblical Moral Reasoning. Wheaton: Crossway,



Hollinger, Dennis P. Choosing the Good. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002.


Jersild, Paul. Making Moral Decisions: A Christian Approach to Personal and Social Ethics.

Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990.


Jones, David Clyde. Biblical Christian Ethics. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994.


Lee, Cameron. Beyond Family Values: A Call to Christian Virtue. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press,



MacIntyre, Alasdair. A Short History of Ethics. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1996.


Mott, Stephen Charles. Biblical Ethics and Social Change. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.


Rae, Scott B. Moral Choices 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009.


Trull, Joe E. Walking in the Way: An Introduction to Christian Ethics. Nashville: Broadman & Holman

Publishers, 1997.


Wadell, Paul J. Happiness and the Christian Moral Life: An Introduction to Christian Ethics. New York:

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008.


Yoder, John Howard. The Politics of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1972.


Course Requirements:

A.     Attendance (5%): You will be given credit for coming to class and penalized for missing class. You are expected to come prepared to participate in an informed manner.  


B.     Textbook Reading (25%): Students will be required to read the assigned chapters of the course textbook each week. To assess student reading students will be required to turn in a chapter outline or summary for each assigned chapter, outlining or summarizing specifics as asked for by the professor. Also, students will identify what percentage of the textbook they read. See due dates below. See Populi for Chapter Outline and Summary Template.


C.     Papers (25%): There will be two case studies given with specific questions to answer. Each case study will require a well written 2-3 page paper to be turned in on the assigned due date. Students will be expected to answer the specific questions thoroughly, substantiating their views and statements with Biblical reason and supporting resources. Case study papers must follow Turabian format and contain a cover page and bibliography. 


D.     Quiz (10%): In order to fulfill Student Learning Outcome #1 (see above) students will be assessed on their ability to understand and explain different ethical frameworks.


E.     Christian Ethical Framework (25%): Students will, in a 3-4 page paper, express an ethical framework to guide them in deciphering through ethical issues. The framework must be biblically based, Christ-centered and supported with Scripture references and additional resources. The paper will be according to Turabian format and require a cover page and bibliography.


F.      Presentation (10%): Students will present one of their case study papers to the class on week 12 using the best practices of speech delivery. See the Presentation Grading rubric on Populi.



Value of Assignments                                                    Grading Scale

    A.    Attendance                           5%                        96-100       A           77-79    C+       60-62         D-

    B.    Textbook Reading              25%                        92-95         A-          73-76    C         below 60    F

    C.    Papers                                  25%                        88-91         B+         70-72    C-

    D.    Quiz                                      10%                        84-87         B           67-69    D+

    E.    Christian Ethical Frame.    25%                        80-83         B-          63-66    D

    F.     Presentation                       10%


Class Schedule:





Class 1



Ethical Frameworks



Class 2



Abortion and Embryonic Stem Cell Research


Reproductive Technologies Infertility and Adoption


Rae, Chapter 5

Quiz - Ethical Frameworks

Outline abortion rights arguments and give an outline of arguments for the fetus being a person.

Class 3



*Biotechnology, Genetics, and Human Cloning

Medical Ethics


Rae, Chapter 7

 Write a concise summary for Genetic Testing and Human Cloning. (1-2 paragraphs for each)

Class 4




Physician-Assisted Suicide, Euthanasia, and Suicide

Rae, Chapter 8

Outline the arguments for and against Physician-Assisted Suicide/Euthanasia.

Class 5



Capital Punishment

Immigration, Refugees, and Border Control


Rae, Chapter 9

Outline the arguments for and against Capital Punishment.

Class 6



*Sexual Ethics, Marriage

Pornography, Homosexuality and Transgenderism

Rae, Chapter 11

Case Study #1

Write a 1-2 sentence summary for each bold header in the chapter (7 total bold headers).


Class 7






Gun Control

Rae, Chapter 10

Outline the arguments for Pacifism and Just War Theory

Class 8



Economics; money, borrowing, lending, debt, poverty and wealth. 

Rae, Chapter 13

Write a 1-2 sentence summary for each bold header in the chapter (7 total bold headers).

Class 9



Leadership Ethics


Case Study #2


Class 10




*Environment                             The Sabbath Command

Rae, Chapter 12

Write a 1-2 sentence summary for each bold header in the chapter (5 total bold headers).

Class 11



Health, Alcohol and Drugs, Work and Rest.



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