Sunday, September 5, 2021

Reflections on Evangelical Ethics

Technologically, we are making a lot of progress, but morally we appear to be lost. Evangelical Christians are challenged to formulate their positions on what are literally matters of life and death. Since the time of reformation, the subject of casuistry has become less fashionable in Protestant circles. 

Jesus in no way minimized the role of specific obedience to the commandments of God but made such specific obedience a test of the genuineness of the disciples’ love. The teachings of the Scripture are the final quote of appeal for ethics. Human reason, church tradition, and the natural social sciences may aid moral reflections but divine revelation found in the Bible constitutes the bottom line of the decision-making process. 

The Word of God is the only infallible and inerrant rule of faith and practice and consequently is the highest authority for both doctrine and morals. There has been a widespread tendency in modern biblical scholarship to minimize the prescriptive element in New Testament ethics in favor of a generalized appeal to Christian faith and love apart from the specifics of the law. The love of God shed abroad in the heart of the believer is indeed the dynamic motivation of Christian behavior, but this love demonstrates itself in harmony with and not apart from, the specific commandments and the precepts of the Holy Scriptures. 

The Bible endorses the principle that human life is of far greater value than physical property or possessions. When the loss of God conflicts with the loss of man, the human loss must yield to the higher authority of God. Christians seeking to influence public policy will recognize both the value and the limitations of civil law as an instrument of social change. Civil laws that are consistent with the teachings of Scriptures point society to a higher standard of righteousness which is fulfilled only in Jesus Christ. Such laws remain a worthy object of Christian concern and social action.


Stassen, Glen H. and David P. Gushee. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003.

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