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Pastoral Ethics: Moral Formation as Life in the Trinity


Pastoral Ethics: Moral Formation as Life in the Trinity

Ethics is freedom in Christ to pursue the good, true, and beautiful.

Pastors regularly face concrete ethical questions. And they, too, pursue a moral life. In the busyness of ministry, it can be tempting to think pragmatically or derive one’s ethics from the latest cultural concerns. But standard approaches to ethics, whether deontological, utilitarian, or virtue-ethical, all fall short of being distinctly Christian. Ethics ought to be grounded in the gospel and in our triune God.

In Pastoral Ethics, W. Ross Hastings provides pastors an evangelical and trinitarian framework for moral formation and ethical discernment. For Hastings, ethics must be reclaimed as theological. Theology without ethics becomes gnosticism. Ethics without theology leads to legalism and death.


Christian ethics participates in God’s life and God’s work. This communion with God leads to obedience to his commands as summed up in the Decalogue, and over several chapters Hastings provides a rich exposition for pastoral formation. Pastors find their identity in God, and this inspires right thinking and acting with regard to authority, life and death, sexuality, work and rest, speech, and desires.

An approach to ethics that prompts faith, hope, and love, Pastoral Ethics is an essential guide for Christians in all ministry contexts.

Book Launch Lecture


  1. Introduction

  2. Thinking Theologically about Ethics

  3. “Trinitarian” as the Most Fitting Category for Ethics

  4. Trinitarian Ethics as Biblical, Evangelical, and Ecclesial

  5. The Role of the Word of God

  6. Moral Formation in the Covenant Love of God

  7. Moral Formation through the Sabbath

  8. Authority in Moral Formation and Ethics

  9. Matters of Life and Death

  10. Sexual Ethics

  11. Ethics of Work

  12. Ethics of Speech

  13. Ethics and Ordering Desires

  14. Ethics as Freedom

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