How do we build a biblical ethic? How do we apply the Bible when Scripture is silent upon a certain subject? If Scripture does not directly and explicitly condemn something, are we left to a laissez faire mentality where we dare not deny our normal, tantalizing appetites? In his book Shaping Character, Arthur F. Holmes outlines a course of action with the intended result of creating ordered minds and hearts within us, alert to the leading of the Spirit and to the teaching of Scripture. He outlines eleven steps in the development of this integrated Christian moral identity. Below are his eleven steps:
Consciousness raising: becoming aware of the wider world outside ourselves, the pain and suffering of others, the systemic abuses that are the manifestations of Satan’s continued perverse influence over our world.
Consciousness sensitizing: feeling compassion for those caught in the web of this evil.
Values analysis: understanding the values that nations, companies, and other people have and which in practice shape their behaviors.
Values clarification: becoming aware of the values that we as individuals and organizations functionally embrace.
Values criticism: asking ourselves hard questions concerning these values: Are they the ones that ought to be operative in our individual and corporate lives?
Moral imagination: thinking in universal terms in order to construct a moral framework based on biblical principles.
Ethical analysis: exploring the elements of morally complex situations. For example, the Bible is against lying, but was it right to lie to the Gestapo in order to preserve the lives of Jews hiding within the home?
Moral decision-making: having the courage to act on the results of the analytical task just completed.
Acting as responsible agents: making such moral decisions on a consistent basis; the practice of moral action helps to seal such principles in our hearts.
Virtue development: developing godly character, not simply right behaviors. For this reason spiritual development and moral development walk with joined hands. As Jesus said, a good tree bears good fruit.
Moral identity: becoming a unified person, what James 1:4 calls mature and complete.
~Taken from David Nystrom’s commentary on the book of James.