Course Syllabus


The Rev. Austin L. Leininger, Ph.D.


408-410-0850 (9a-5p MTN, or text)


Santa Cruz, CA (call if visiting)


Office Hours

Mondays at Noon (Mountain time).  



Course Synopsis

If you have never considered Ethics to be a steamy subject, perhaps you aren’t an Episcopalian!  The history of the Anglican Church is one fraught with scandal and intrigue.  From Henry VIII’s scandalous divorce from Catherine of Aragon to wed his pregnant mistress, Anne Bolyn,[1] to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s dramatic burning at the stake—starting with the hand he had used to sign his recantations of the Protestant Anglican faith (which he renounced, to die a Catholic heretic and a Protestant martyr), [2] and more recently from the ordination of women, to the ordination of the first openly gay and lesbian bishops in the Episcopal church, ethics in the Anglican Tradition has been and continues to be a fascinating endeavor.


For nearly five centuries, the Anglican Church has been pushing the boundaries of doctrine, Christology, ecclesiology, and even epistemology, with the Episcopal Church on the leading edge of that boundary as we continue to rise to the new challenges greeting each new era in the Church.  The study of Anglican ethics draws on a rich history of ethical dilemma as we have striven throughout our long history to engage with our faith as we live it out in an imperfect world (and an imperfect Church!).  


This course offers an Anglican/Episcopal spin on Ethics from their foundations in ancient Greece and the early Church, through the tumult of the English (and continental) reformation, and into the post-modern era.  In the first part of the course, we’ll survey the foundations of ethical thought in Plato and Aristotle, the early church with Jesus, Paul, and Augustine, and the development of Anglican Ethics through the Church of England up through the early 20th century.  In the second part of the course, we’ll look specifically at the contemporary ethical dilemmas that have faced the Church and discuss how they have been approached – for good or for ill.  We’ll discuss how we might learn from our whole history in approaching issues currently facing the Church from issues in the parish to current strained ties in the Anglican Communion. 


[1] …in which Henry also rejected the Pope’s power in England and set himself as the head of the church.

[2] Cramer authored the first three Books of Common Prayer and was martyred by “Bloody Mary.”

Objectives and Expectations


Policies and Services

Required Texts and Other Resources

Calendar of Assignments

For PDF of Syllabus, click here.