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Online · School of Divinity · Christian Leadership & Church Ministries

Ethics for Chaplain Leaders

  • CG
  • Section 8WK
  • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020
  • Modified 07/28/2020

Course Description

This course is a study of theoretical and applied ethical leadership for chaplains serving as religious representatives and leaders in primarily secular, pluralistic environments. It will broadly explore the field of ethics from theological and philosophical perspectives providing the student with insights to critique them against biblical truth. The course will prepare chaplains to engage ethical problems through the development and application of a biblically based ethical decision-making model and personal code of ethics. Additionally, the course will address the ethics of evangelism, civil discourse, and the free exercise of one’s faith in a pluralistic culture.



DMIN 810


The pastoral calling is inherently theological. Therefore, chaplains are public moral theologians who must view their role as ethical advisors as a call to apply biblical truth to the pursuit of the knowledge of right and wrong, how we are to behave in the light of that knowledge, and the integration of ethical and moral truth into public life. In order to effectively accomplish this, chaplains must be able to evaluate the ethical issues emerging in their ministry context; analyze and critique common theological and philosophical approaches to ethics; develop and apply a biblically-based, personal decision-making model; and synthesize a personal code of ethics appropriate to their chaplaincy role.

Measurable Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  1. Analyze the core differences between common theological and philosophical approaches to ethics.
  2. Apply a personally-developed, biblically-based ethical decision-making model to context-specific emerging ethical issues.
  3. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of opposing options for resolving an ethical problem in light of biblical teaching.
  4. Defend an option that best reflects a biblical perspective on an ethical issue in a way that facilitates understanding and application in secular and pluralistic settings.
  5. Analyze the content of an ethic of evangelism, civil discourse, and the free exercise of faith in a pluralistic culture.
  6. Synthesize a personal code of ethics appropriate to the type of chaplain ministry to which he/she has been called.

Course Resources

Required Resources

The resources below are provided in the course at no cost to the student.

Carson, D. A. The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013.

Frame, John M. The Doctrine of the Christian Life: A Theology of Lordship. Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 2008.

Hollinger, Dennis P. Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2002. ISBN: 9780801025631.

Thiessen, Elmer J. The Ethics of Evangelism: A Philosophical Defense of Proselytizing and Persuasion. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011.

Trull, Joe E., and R. Robert Creech. Ethics for Christian Ministry: Moral Formation for 21st-Century Leaders. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2017.

Wilkens, Steve. Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics: An Introduction to Theories of Right and Wrong. 2nd ed. Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2011.

Disclaimer: The above resources provide information consistent with the latest research regarding the subject area. Liberty University does not necessarily endorse specific personal, religious, philosophical, or political positions found in these resources.

Additional Materials for Learning

    1. Computer with basic audio/video output equipment
    2. Internet access (broadband recommended)
    3. Blackboard recommended browsers
    4. Microsoft Word
    5. School of Divinity Writing Guide:

Course Assignments

Textbook readings and lecture presentations

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Course Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in Module/Week 1.

Discussion Board Forums (4)

Discussion boards are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student is required to create a thread in response to the provided prompt for each forum. Each thread must be at least 350 words and demonstrate course-related knowledge. In addition to the thread, the student is required to reply to at least 2 classmates’ threads. Each reply must be at least 250 words. Sources are referenced in current Turabian format. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Ethical Context Analysis

The student will identify and describe 2–3 ethical worldviews that dominate his/her ministry context, and will identify 2–3 major areas of potential ethical failure. The student will summarize his/her analysis in a 600–900-word paper written in current Turabian format. Each paper must be supported with at least 3 scholarly references in proper current Turabian format. (MLO: A, C)

Ethical Decision-Making Model

The student will formulate a model for making biblical decisions regarding ethical questions and problems he/she will face in his/her role as a senior chaplain leader. The student will summarize his/her model in 2,000–2,400 words written in current Turabian format. The model must be biblical in nature, using Scripture as a guide for rational decision-making, must demonstrate an understanding of ethical theory, and must explain how the student will analyze ethical options that appear to be in conflict. Each paper model must be supported with at least 7 scholarly references in proper current Turabian format. (MLO: A, B, D)

Ethics Integration Paper

The student will write a 2,400–3,500-word research-based paper in current Turabian format. The paper must articulate the student’s position on an ethical issue appropriate for his/her area of chaplaincy ministry. The paper must identify the dominant ethical worldview of his/her work environment, must state an ethical problem faced in that environment, and must formulate an ethical response supported by a Christian worldview that could be defended in a pluralistic environment. The paper must include at least 10 references in current Turabian format from books or scholarly journal articles, in addition to course textbooks and the Bible. (MLO: A, B, C, D, E)

Personal Code of Ethics

The student will develop a personal code of ethics appropriate to his/her area of chaplaincy ministry. The paper must be 600–900 words and adhere to current Turabian formatting. The student will use the examples found in Ethics for Christian Ministry: Moral Formation for Twenty-First-Century Leaders as a foundation. The paper must include at least 4 scholarly references cited in current Turabian format. (MLO: F)

Course Grading

Course Requirements Checklist


Discussion Board Forums (4 at 100 pts ea)


Ethical Context Analysis


Ethical Decision-Making Model


Ethics Integration Paper


Personal Code of Ethics





Late Assignment Policy

Course Assignments, including discussion boards, exams, and other graded assignments, should be submitted on time.

If the student is unable to complete an assignment on time, then he or she must contact the instructor immediately by email.

Assignments that are submitted after the due date without prior approval from the instructor will receive the following deductions:

  1. Late assignments submitted within one week after the due date will receive up to a 10% deduction.
  2. Assignments submitted more than one week and less than 2 weeks late will receive up to a 20% deduction.
  3. Assignments submitted two weeks late or after the final date of the course will not be accepted outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.
  4. Group projects, including group discussion board threads and/or replies, and assignments will not be accepted after the due date outside of special circumstances (e.g. death in the family, significant personal health issues), which will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis by the instructor.

Disability Assistance

Students with a disability and those with medical conditions associated with pregnancy may contact Liberty University’s Online Office of Disability Accommodation Support (ODAS) at [email protected] for accommodations.  Such accommodations require appropriate documentation of your condition.   For more information about ODAS and the accommodations process, including how to request an accommodation, please visit Requests for accommodations not related to disabilities or pregnancy must be directed to the Registrar’s Office, which generally handles medical needs support.

If you have a complaint related to disability discrimination or an accommodation that was not provided, you may contact ODAS or the Office of Equity and Compliance by phone at (434) 592-4999 or by email at [email protected].  Click to see a full copy of Liberty’s Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy or the Student Disability Grievance Policy and Procedures.

Course Attendance

In an effort to comply with U.S. Department of Education policies, attendance is measured by physical class attendance or any submission of a required assignment within the enrollment dates of the course (such as examinations, written papers or projects, any discussion board posts, etc.) or initiating any communication with one’s professor regarding an academic subject. More information regarding the attendance policy can be found in the Academic Course Catalogs. Regular attendance in online courses is expected throughout the length of the term. Students who do not attend within the first week of a sub-term by submitting a required academic assignment (such as the Course Requirements Checklist, an examination, written paper or project, discussion board post, or other academic activity) will be dropped from the course. Students who wish to re-engage in the course are encouraged to contact Academic Advising to discuss their enrollment options. Students who begin an online course, but at some point in the semester cease attending, and do not provide official notification to withdraw, will be assigned a grade of “FN” (Failure for Non-Attendance). Students wishing to withdraw from courses after the official start date should familiarize themselves with the withdrawal policy.

Add/Drop Policy

The full policy statement and procedures are published in the Policy Directory.

Honor Code

Liberty University comprises a network of students, Alumni, faculty, staff and supporters that together form a Christian community based upon the truth of the Bible. This truth defines our foundational principles, from our Doctrinal Statement to the Code of Honor. These principles irrevocably align Liberty University’s operational procedures with the long tradition of university culture, which remains distinctively Christian, designed to preserve and advance truth. Our desire is to create a safe, comfortable environment within our community of learning, and we extend our academic and spiritual resources to all of our students with the goal of fostering academic maturity, spiritual growth and character development.

Communities are predicated on shared values and goals. The Code of Honor, an expression of the values from which our Doctrinal Statement was born, defines the fundamental principles by which our community exists. At the core of this code lie two essential concepts: a belief in the significance of all individuals, and a reliance on the existence of objective truth.

While we acknowledge that some may disagree with various elements of the Code of Honor, we maintain the expectation that our students will commit to respect and uphold the Code while enrolled at Liberty University.

Adherence to the principles and concepts established within facilitates the success of our students and strengthens the Liberty community.

The Code of Honor can be viewed in its entirety at

Grading Scale

A A- B+ B B- C+ C C- D+ D D- F
940-1010 920-939 900-919 860-899 840-859 820-839 780-819 760-779 740-759 700-739 680-699 679 and below

For courses with a Pass/NP final grade, please refer to the Course Grading section of this syllabus for the assignment requirements and/or point value required to earn a Passing final grade.


CHPL 830

Textbooks: Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance (2013).

Frame, The Doctrine of the Christian Life (2008).

Hollinger, Choosing the Good (2002).

Thiessen, The Ethics of Evangelism (2011).

Trull & Creech, Ethics for Christian Ministry (2017).

Wilkens, Beyond Bumper Sticker Ethics (2011).


Reading & Study




Frame: chs. 1–2

Hollinger: ch. 3

Trull & Creech: ch. 1

Wilkens: chs. 1–6

Course Requirements Checklist

Class Introductions

DB Forum 1





Frame: chs. 4–8

Wilkens: chs. 7–11

Ethical Context Analysis



Frame: chs. 9–21

Hollinger: chs. 1–2

DB Forum 2



Frame: ch. 3

Hollinger: chs. 6–8

Ethical Decision-Making Model



Frame: chs. 45–49

Hollinger: chs. 4–5, 9–12

1 presentation

2 websites

Ethics Integration Paper



Carson: chs. 1–8

1 website

DB Forum 3



Thiessen: chs. 3–9, appendix 1

DB Forum 4



Frame: ch. 50

Trull & Creech: chs. 2–6, 8, appendix 3

Personal Code of Ethics




DB = Discussion Board

NOTE: Each course module/week begins on Monday morning at 12:00 a.m. (ET) and ends on Sunday night at 11:59 p.m. (ET). The final module/week ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Friday.