Morals/Convictions

There is much to be said for the subjects of morals and convictions. I have put these terms on the same page but there are some significant differences between both terms.

Morals, also known as ethics, are philosophical studies which address our understanding of concepts such as good and bad, right and wrong, and even justice and virtue.

By "convictions" I am speaking namely about Christian convictions, although the term is used in other contexts. Convictions are firmly held ethical beliefs. Convictions can be ethical beliefs that Christians would agree on like do not murder or they can be more personal convictions that an individual feels applies to them, like not drinking alcohol. Paul talked a lot about convictions. In Romans 14, he talks about sacred days, eating meat and drinking wine.

The term "conviction" is also used in reference to the Holy Spirit's work to convict us of sin (e.g. John 16:7-8).

Adiaphora

“(Gr. “things indifferent”) Elements of faith regarded as neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture and thus on which liberty of conscience may be exercised (see Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 6:12; 8:8; Gal. 5:6). An adiaphoristic controversy in relation to the Augsburg Interim (1548) led to art. 10 of the Formula of Concord (1577).”[1]

In Christianity, adiaphora means that something is debatable, spiritually neutral. There are essentials of the Christian faith such as the deity of Christ, monotheism, Christ's physical resurrection, etc. But there are also topics that deal with issues that are non-essentials. So in a general sense, adiaphora means those Christian teachings which are neutral, things that are neither commanded nor forbidden in Scripture. An example of this might be what color of carpet to have in a church, or what time of the day a service should be held. In fact, there was a group called the Adiaphorists who believed certain Christian practices were adiaphora. This includes some Protestants who tolerated certain Roman Catholic practices as adiaphora for the sake of Christian unity.

FOOTNOTES:

1. Donald K. McKim. “The Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, Second Edition: Revised and Expanded.”


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