What is the view of the biblical materials on the role of ethics in the development of history?
There are many views conveyed in biblical material that present the role of ethics in the development of history. These views were presented in Genesis, the first book of the bible, and they are consistent throughout the rest of the scriptures. There are basic ideas that have prevailed through history and have been adopted by many societies today. This system of ethics and sanctions is not exclusive to Christians, the ideas of this system conveyed in the bible, formed many aspects of western civilization.
A significant amount of the biblical passages possess one theme, sanctions will be inflicted according to ethics. These sanctions are inescapable and it is the responsibility of the individual to follow the law of God and have good ethics, otherwise, he will ultimately receive negative sanctions. In order to have good ethics and receive positive sanctions, the individual must obey the law of God. The righteous who seek out wisdom and understanding, and submit themselves to the law of God, will receive eternal reward. Evil-doers may receive a temporary earthly reward, but ultimately they will receive sanctions according to their ethics.
The system of obedience towards God’s law, and the sanctions afflicted accordingly is similar to the system of most civilizations of their state state laws. This system of cause and effect in relation to law is basic to human reason.
It is demonstrated in biblical text that man has free will, men are agents of God, but they are not robotic instruments. Individuals have the ability to think rationally and choose their own ethical path. They cannot, however, determine the punishment or reward, except through the correspondence of their obedience towards the law of God, and their ethics. Good ethics will result in positive sanctions, while bad ethics will result in negative sanctions.
Individuals can choose for themselves how they live out their lives, they can choose the sanctions they will receive, by choosing a lifestyle of wisdom and righteousness, or a lifestyle of wickedness. This has remained consistent through the development of history.
If a life of righteousness leads to ultimate positive sanctions, why do men choose to participate in evil acts? There are pleasures in evil, this is why man engages in it. However, those pleasures are temporary, they wear off, this can result in an addiction to evil activity. These are materialistic pleasures, but men are weak, they fall to the addictions of materialistic pleasures. They lose mindfulness of the idea of ultimate sanctions, and forget about the debts they will have to pay back for their loans of temporary material pleasures. Again, this idea has been consistent throughout the development of history.
The views of ethics as expressed in biblical text, have shaped western civilization.