C2 Risk & the Future


What do we mean by risk?

Creation unfolds dynamically in time. Events occur whose outcome is not known to us in advance. We have control over some of these events and not over others. Here there is ‘risk’ in a technical sense of probability theory (whether objective or subjective). However, for our ethical analysis we are interested in a more colloquial sense of ‘risk’ that matters more to most human beings: the possibility (or, more evocatively, threat) of a negative outcome. This implies a value judgement as to which outcomes are ‘negative’. We take ‘negative’ to imply loss experienced by a given person, of something they desire, whether of something already possessed, or only expected/hoped for. Conversely, that misdirected desires can be a cause of unnecessary (felt) risk exposure.

Our definition for today: the possibility of loss of something desired (possessed or hoped for).

Suggested preparatory reading: Gen 1-4; Ps 90; Lk 12:13-34; Ja 4; Lev 25; Deut 15


Biblical texts

A. Time and change

Gen 1:1-2:3

Ps 90:2-4


B. Sources of risk/loss

Gen 3:8-19, 23-24, 4:8-12, 6:3, 9:2 (at least five causes)


What is the common thread?

Isa 11:1-9; Mic 4:3-4; 2 Cor 5:19a


What you desire

Ecc 2:18-23 (esp. vv21), 6:2; Lk 12: 30-34; Mt 6:10; Phil 3:1-21 (esp. vv7-11, 19-20)


C. Response to risk

Heart attitude to risks not of our own making

Ja 4:1-3; Philippians 1:21-24; 3:7-8

Lk 12:13-34

Phil 4:4-7

Ezek 13:10; Deut 8:10-14, 7-18; Rev 3:17; Isa 31:1,3


Making plans and taking action (and risk)

Gen 1:28

Gen 41; Mt 25:14-30

Ps 37:23-26; Prov 16:1-3, 9; Ja 4:13-17

Gen 15:1-6, 16:1-4


Community risk management

Implicit in the Law and Jesus’ teaching

Mt 22:39-40


Overall effects of the Law as a social paradigm include: 

Lev 19:13

Lev 19:35-36; Deut 19:14; Ex 20:16; Ps 37:21

Ex 21:12-36, 22:6-15

Lev 25; Deut 15:7-8

Lk 3:11; Lk 10:25-37; Acts 4:32-34


Derived social principles?