Conscience as a guide Conscience An inner feeling of the rightness or wrongness of an action Why some Christians believe they should follow their conscience • They believe that the voice of conscience seems to be the same as the voice of God, therefore Christians should follow it. • The Church says that Christians should follow their conscience as if it were the voice of God. • St Paul and St Thomas Aquinas taught that Christians should use their conscience as the final part of moral decision-making, so modern Christians should follow their conscience if it tells them the Church is wrong (e.g. on artificial contraception). • The Bible often needs to be interpreted. The teachings of the Church come through the Pope, bishops, conferences, etc., but conscience is God speaking directly to individuals and so should be followed. The Pope has the final responsibility for stating Roman Catholic views on moral issues, but should Catholics obey their conscience if it contradicts the Pope? Why some Christians think they should not always follow their conscience • People have heard the voice of God telling them to do bad things. If people can be mistaken about the voice of God, they could be mistaken about the voice of conscience. • The teachings of the Bible are what all Christians agree is the Christian thing to do. • If Christians follow the teachings of the Church, they are doing what other Christians think is right. • If everyone followed their conscience rather than laws, there would be chaos as no one would know what sort of behaviour to expect from each other. Exam questions b) Do you think your conscience is the voice of God? Give two reasons for you point of view. (4) c) Explain why some Christians follow only their conscience when making moral decisions (8) d) 'Your conscience is the best guide for deciding what is right and what is wrong.' i) Do you agree? Give reasons for your opinion. (3) ii) Give reasons why some people may disagree with you. (3) In your answer, you should refer to at least one religion.
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