Tag Archives | slavery

Christian Ethics | D. Stephen Long

The cover of Long's Christian EthicsChristian ethics, for some, is an oxymoron. “For some modern persons, the term ‘Christian’ conjures up images of past immoral activities: crusades, the Inquisition, the conquest of the Americas, religious wars, the Galileo affair, defences of slavery and patriarchy” (1). D. Stephen Long argues otherwise. In this very short introduction (135 small pages), Long covers the history of Christian ethics from its pre-Christian roots through two millennia and into the postmodern era.

Long understands Christian ethics in terms of Abraham’s call in Genesis 12. Abraham was called to be different from the world for the sake of the world. Christians are different from the world in that “the community of faith … seeks to embody the life to which God calls” (70). The second part—for the sake of the world—is the more controversial element which has led to all sorts of difficulty. Indeed, “[t]he failure to fulfil this mission was a central cause in Christ’s crucifixion” (70).

There are a number of black marks on Christianity’s ethical history. Still, Long’s brief historical survey demonstrates that the issues were not as black-and-white as some suspect. Indeed, it was mainly Christians who, against fellow Christians, recognized the injustices listed in the first paragraph and sought to change them.

Long completes his short introduction with an application of Christian ethics to some of the major issues of our day, categorized by money, sex, and power.

So what is Christian ethics? It is the pursuit of God’s goodness by people ‘on the way’ to a city not built by human hands. It is not a precise science but the cultivation of practical wisdom that comes from diverse sources. (121)

Christian ethics is a call to develop the sort of wisdom needed to navigate postmodern waters in a Christlike way.

Long, D. Stephen. Christian Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. London: Oxford University Press, 2010.

Haiti | Laurent Dubois

The cover of Dubois' HaitiI’m not a dispassionate reader. I have been to Haiti twice and, alongside my wife, have participated in humanitarian projects and worship services. We love the people and the country. That’s why this book is so devastating to read.

Haiti’s history began with a massive slave revolt. It was the first successful revolt in history. Obviously, slave-owning nations wanted nothing to do with this country (other than to re-enslave it)—what if these ideas spread?

Consider also the internal problems. Haiti’s wealth was in sugar plantations. How would freed slaves engage the system that had kept them in chains?

In Haiti: The Aftershocks of History, Dubois shows how this founding narrative has impacted all of Haiti’s subsequent history. He shows how the United States used Haiti for its own ends in a 20th century military invasion. He shows how actions have consequences.

Haiti: The Aftershocks of History is a detailed and insightful retelling of the history of a country and people I have learned to love.

—Laurent Dubois, Haiti: The Aftershocks of History (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2012).

The Theology of Paul the Apostle | James D. G. Dunn (§24)

I remember sitting in Pastoral Theology classes back in Bible College. The professor would offer a case study of a situation that was far from black-and-white, and we naive students would offer a solid answer. I learned then that the application of principles is a complex art. Now that we’ve studied Paul’s ethical principles, it’s time to get to the case studies.

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