Reenvisioning Christian Ethics

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 December 2022) | Viewed by 42895

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Guest Editor
Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, PA 17603, USA

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I first issued a call to scholars to reenvision the field of Christian ethics in April 2018. The resulting conversation proved thought-provoking and timely. The high quality of published papers from that collection are inspiring. Yet, the world looks quite different now, three and a half years later. In the face of multiple global pandemics and widespread political disruption, we need to continue the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics. Thus, I am renewing the call to Christian ethicists. I am pleased to announce that this special issue of the journal Religions is once again open for submissions.

Christian ethics is a wide, varied field. So diverse are the methods and approaches, theological perspectives and starting points, and scopes of inquiry and purposes—dare we even call it a “discipline”?—that the field is rarely considered as a whole. Christian ethics includes descriptive, critical, constructive, and applied projects on countless topics. Lending creative energy to this field of scholarly endeavor are a range of partner disciplines, including, most prominently, theology, philosophy, and sociology—each with multiple schools of thought within them. To envision the entire field of Christian ethics is a difficult task; to reenvision the entire field, perhaps impossible for one person. Thus, in this special issue on Reenvisioning Christian Ethics, we invite papers that offer a distinct perspective from their primary partner discipline for the purpose of contributing to a composite reenvisioning of the field.

The purpose of this special issue of Religions is to reenvision Christian ethics by refracting our collective vision through the prisms of diverse academic and methodological perspectives in this vast field of inquiry, study, and practice.

The scope of this special issue is necessarily broad, though each individual contribution should be well-focused, indicating how advances and insights from one location might effectively contribute to or prompt new developments in other locations in this field. Each paper should provide a vision of the field of Christian ethics from a distinct perspective, as follows: identify its primary partner discipline, method and approach, theological perspective and starting point, and scope of inquiry and purpose; name key insights developed from that perspective; describe ways in which this perspective has impacted other perspectives and approaches in the field; and suggest ways to reenvision Christian ethics through these perspectival insights.

Prof. Dr. Darryl W. Stephens
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1800 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Christian ethics
  • theological ethics
  • moral theology
  • social ethics
  • philosophical ethics

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Editorial

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9 pages, 226 KiB  
Editorial
Reenvisioning Christian Ethics: An Introduction and Invitation
by Darryl W. Stephens
Religions 2020, 11(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11020074 - 6 Feb 2020
Viewed by 3220
Abstract
This article by the guest editor introduces the theme of this special issue of Religions, reveals some of his underlying convictions and assumptions regarding the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics, and introduces each of the eight articles in this collection. Rather than [...] Read more.
This article by the guest editor introduces the theme of this special issue of Religions, reveals some of his underlying convictions and assumptions regarding the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics, and introduces each of the eight articles in this collection. Rather than a discipline, Christian ethics might more accurately be described as a field of scholarly endeavor engaging a range of partner disciplines. Each contributor was invited to offer a distinct perspective on this task, contributing to a collective reenvisioning of the field. The guest editor describes his underlying convictions, that the task of reenvisioning Christian ethics is real, perspectival, dialogical, collaborative, and purposeful. Correspondingly, he sees the task as awe-filled, discerning, responsive, participatory, and hopeful. Envisioned is a confluence of intersectional, interdisciplinary, and intercultural approaches expanding beyond the academy and even beyond the Christian in order to partner with all members of global society for the common good, shared justice, and full flourishing of all of creation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

13 pages, 219 KiB  
Article
Ratification of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights: No Longer the Whimsical Desire of the West in the Cycles of Economic Meltdown
by Darryl Trimiew
Religions 2023, 14(3), 309; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14030309 - 24 Feb 2023
Viewed by 1083
Abstract
This work is a reexamination of the historic economic rights debate in light of two major changes in American public policy. The first change considers the effect of the debate by the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The second policy change [...] Read more.
This work is a reexamination of the historic economic rights debate in light of two major changes in American public policy. The first change considers the effect of the debate by the passing of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The second policy change considers how the debate should include the effects of the economic bailout brought about by the TARP program. These changes are explained first, as government interventions made in response to widespread suffering and medical cost bankruptcies due to the United States’ healthcare system having no guaranteed right to healthcare. The second change focuses on the necessity of a national economic bailout conducted in response to a “Great Recession,” as an historic proof that government must intervene when severe economic downturns threaten to collapse the national economy. These interventions support the passage of economic rights and show how the opposition to the passage of economic rights have been based on faulty moral argumentation and reasoning. The essay concludes with a continued call for the passage of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
10 pages, 1063 KiB  
Article
Reenvisioning Plotinus’ Doctrine of the Triad in Byzantine Christianity as a New Type of Ethics
by Olga Vasilievna Chistyakova and Denis Igorevich Chistyakov
Religions 2023, 14(2), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14020151 - 28 Jan 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1416
Abstract
This article reveals the continuity of Neoplatonic ideas in Greek-Byzantine patristics in the process of elaboration of the triadic dogma by the Church Fathers. Common and distinctive principles of Neoplatonism and Eastern Christianity are deduced from the point of view of the shaping [...] Read more.
This article reveals the continuity of Neoplatonic ideas in Greek-Byzantine patristics in the process of elaboration of the triadic dogma by the Church Fathers. Common and distinctive principles of Neoplatonism and Eastern Christianity are deduced from the point of view of the shaping of Christian ethics and the processing of Neoplatonic concepts in patristic texts. In more specific terms, Plotinus’ concept of the triad of the One–the Intellect–the Soul is considered, with special attention paid to analysis of the philosopher’s ideas of the One as Deity and the Origin of the world. It describes the process of emanation of the Neoplatonic trinity hypostasis and its connection with the material world through the World Soul. In comparison with Neoplatonism, the authors of the article present the molding of the dogma of the Holy Trinity in classical Greek-Byzantine patristics and highlight the new, theological-ethical vision of Plotinus’ triad as a form of the interconnection of the three Persons of the Trinity, expressing the absoluteness of interpersonal relations. In terms of philosophical ethics, the authors state that the Church Fathers’ understanding of the relationship among the three hypostases of the Holy Trinity serves as a model of perfect moral relationships demonstrating the absolute norms of morality for a human being. Neoplatonism was deprived of such a context in its interpretation of Plotinus’ triad. The creative and critical perception of Plotinus’ conceptual positions in the works of St. Athanasius is presented. Conclusions are made about the creative, sometimes critical, perception of the ideas of Neoplatonism in the formation of a new type of Christian ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
15 pages, 281 KiB  
Article
Is Sanctification Real? Empirical Evidence for and against Christian Moral Transformation
by Lari Launonen
Religions 2023, 14(1), 26; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010026 - 22 Dec 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 2531
Abstract
According to a widely held view of the New Testament teaching on sanctification; the Holy Spirit brings about a significant moral transformation in the character of every true believer. This claim about Christian moral transformation (CMT) has empirical implications. Thus, its truth can [...] Read more.
According to a widely held view of the New Testament teaching on sanctification; the Holy Spirit brings about a significant moral transformation in the character of every true believer. This claim about Christian moral transformation (CMT) has empirical implications. Thus, its truth can be evaluated from a scientific perspective. Sociological and psychological data on the relationship of religion and morality suggests that (Christian) religion is negatively correlated with undesirable moral behavior such as alcohol and substance abuse, criminal behavior, domestic abuse, and nonmarital sex, and positively correlated with desirable behavior such as helping. While these correlations are consistent with CMT, they do not necessarily serve as good evidence for it, for they can be more naturally explained by situational factors than by character differences between religious and nonreligious people. Some scientific findings serve as evidence against CMT. Religious believers engage in dishonest behavior and porn viewing at least as much as others. There is also a positive correlation between prejudice and conservative Christian beliefs. These correlations cannot be explained by situational factors as easily as the link between religion and desirable moral behavior. Sociological and psychological research; therefore, provides at least a mild challenge for the truth of CMT. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
9 pages, 216 KiB  
Article
Operationalizing the Vision of Catholic Social Thought Using Change Management
by Stephanie Ann Puen
Religions 2022, 13(6), 483; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13060483 - 26 May 2022
Viewed by 1640
Abstract
In Catholic social thought, magisterial documents emphasize the “See, Judge, Act” method in reflecting on social issues. While action is an important aspect of this methodology, aspects of Catholic social thought, as seen in the teaching of magisterial documents, has focused primarily on [...] Read more.
In Catholic social thought, magisterial documents emphasize the “See, Judge, Act” method in reflecting on social issues. While action is an important aspect of this methodology, aspects of Catholic social thought, as seen in the teaching of magisterial documents, has focused primarily on principles and the “judge” part of the method, where one reflects on the current social context in light of Catholic social thought and gospel values. This paper reminds Catholic social thought of the importance of obtaining the commitment of the people within the community in order to put Catholic social thought principles into practice structurally and that obtaining this commitment will require listening and responding to motivations, fears, values, and concerns of the people when handling conflicting goods at stake, while also offering helpful tools and resources for the work ahead. To obtain this commitment, this paper proposes how the discipline of change management offers tools for those putting Catholic social thought into practice and handling the fears, values, and concerns of the people involved. Specifically, the tools of stakeholder, culture, and ADKAR analysis in change management help practitioners implement projects grounded in the principles of Catholic social thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
15 pages, 286 KiB  
Article
Challenge of Doing Catholic Ethics in a Pluralistic Context
by Shaji George Kochuthara
Religions 2020, 11(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11010017 - 29 Dec 2019
Viewed by 3135
Abstract
The article discusses the possibility of doing Catholic ethics in a religiously and culturally pluralistic context. Beginning with the possibility of pluralistic approach in Catholic ethics, the article refers to the Indian context as an example for the discussion. Particularly it takes two [...] Read more.
The article discusses the possibility of doing Catholic ethics in a religiously and culturally pluralistic context. Beginning with the possibility of pluralistic approach in Catholic ethics, the article refers to the Indian context as an example for the discussion. Particularly it takes two issues—ecological ethics and sexual ethics—to reflect on the need and possibility of doing Catholic ethics in a pluralistic context. Although the arguments here may be applicable to other contexts of pluralism, the article mainly points out examples from the Indian contexts. The discussion here is basically from a Catholic perspective, namely, why Catholics should be open to different sources and approaches in ethics, and how they can work together with others in identifying common grounds for ethics. Although a few guidelines for constructing a pluralistic ethics are indicated, the attempt is not to propose a framework for such an ethics, but mainly to show the need and possibility of such an ethics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
13 pages, 257 KiB  
Article
Liberating Discernment: Language, Concreteness, and Naming Divine Activity in History
by Tyler B. Davis
Religions 2019, 10(10), 562; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10100562 - 30 Sep 2019
Viewed by 2477
Abstract
One of the revolutionary insights of early liberation theology was that theological discernment is, above all, a concrete undertaking. Yet this insight is accompanied by a persistent conundrum that arises from the way in which naming God’s activity in history is perceived as [...] Read more.
One of the revolutionary insights of early liberation theology was that theological discernment is, above all, a concrete undertaking. Yet this insight is accompanied by a persistent conundrum that arises from the way in which naming God’s activity in history is perceived as collapsing God’s objective distance into contingent affairs. This paper contends that this conundrum results from a constricting account of theological objectivity which is problematically conceived in opposition to concretization and so obstructs an account of liberating discernment. Locating this concern within the (de)colonial history of competing theological readings of the weather, and, in addition, prompted by Alice Crary’s expansion of objectivity in ethical theory, I argue that theological objectivity must not only include but begin with theological languages of the oppressed as its essential point of departure. Recovering the insight of early liberation theologians, this paper contends that theology may speak of God objectively only as it concretely shares in the liberating life and words of the crucified peoples of history. The purpose of this argument is then to envision Christian ethics as language accountable to the apocalyptic activity of the God of the oppressed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
12 pages, 718 KiB  
Article
Taking Children’s Moral Lives Seriously: Creativity as Ethical Response Offline and Online
by Kate Ott
Religions 2019, 10(9), 525; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090525 - 12 Sep 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 3850
Abstract
Core Christian ethics concepts are affected by assumptions related to the primary subject or moral agent and the social context in which moral encounters take place. This article asks: Are children full moral agents? If so, what can Christian ethics, which predominantly focuses [...] Read more.
Core Christian ethics concepts are affected by assumptions related to the primary subject or moral agent and the social context in which moral encounters take place. This article asks: Are children full moral agents? If so, what can Christian ethics, which predominantly focuses on adult subjects, learn from a focus on children? A small group of Christian ethicists has asked this very question in conversation with psychologists, child development theorists, educators, theologians, and philosophers. Centering children requires attention to age and ability differences and inclusion of their voices. Children as ethical subjects focus attention on issues of particularity, a decentering of rational individualism, and debunking linear moral developmental assumptions. The research on children’s moral lives points toward ethics as creativity in forms of play or improvisation. Given children’s digitally saturated lives, their creative use of critical digital literacies also helps Christian ethics begin to map a response to the impact of digital technologies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
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13 pages, 226 KiB  
Article
The Scales Integral to Ecology: Hierarchies in Laudato Si’ and Christian Ecological Ethics
by Kevin J. O’Brien
Religions 2019, 10(9), 511; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090511 - 3 Sep 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3640
Abstract
Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ advocates for an “ecological conversion” to the ideal of “integral ecology”. In so doing, it offers insights into different scales of moral attention, resonating with sophisticated thinking in scientific ecology and environmental ethics. From the encyclical, Christian ecological ethicists [...] Read more.
Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ advocates for an “ecological conversion” to the ideal of “integral ecology”. In so doing, it offers insights into different scales of moral attention, resonating with sophisticated thinking in scientific ecology and environmental ethics. From the encyclical, Christian ecological ethicists can learn about the importance of identifying spatial and temporal scales in moral terms and the usefulness of hierarchical levels that distinguish between local, community, and global concerns. However, the encyclical assumes some hierarchical relationships—among genders, among species, and with the divine—that it does not question. Scalar thinking is a key strength of Laudato Si’ and also a signal of the work it leaves undone regarding the constructedness and limitations of all hierarchical assumptions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
22 pages, 318 KiB  
Article
Christian Ethics and Ecologies of Violence
by Luke Beck Kreider
Religions 2019, 10(9), 509; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10090509 - 31 Aug 2019
Viewed by 4806
Abstract
This essay introduces “ecologies of violence” as a problem for Christian ethics. Understanding the links between violence and the natural environment will be critical to the pursuit of justice, peace, and sustainability in the twenty-first century. Yet these links often evade political action [...] Read more.
This essay introduces “ecologies of violence” as a problem for Christian ethics. Understanding the links between violence and the natural environment will be critical to the pursuit of justice, peace, and sustainability in the twenty-first century. Yet these links often evade political action and escape moral attention because they do not fit comfortably within any of the fields requisite to address them. In most cases, the available resources for confronting these issues—“environmental issues” and “peace and conflict issues”—exist in separate toolkits, and no single discourse has developed resources to address their progressively merging spheres of concern. The essay outlines four types of ecological violence, examines recent work in Christian ethics relevant to them, and then argues for a dialogical method of ethics to confront them. Doing Christian ethics at the intersections of violence and environmental issues will require careful attention to environmental ethics as well as to the ethics of violence. More than that, it will require judicious efforts to navigate between them within case-based and place-based ethical analyses. Ecologies of violence invite Christian ethics to develop possibilities of ethical discernment and reparative action that do justice to the deep entanglement of ecological and sociopolitical systems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
14 pages, 245 KiB  
Article
Pursuing Ethics by Building Bridges beyond the Northern Paradigm
by James Francis Keenan
Religions 2019, 10(8), 490; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080490 - 20 Aug 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 3011
Abstract
This essay narrates and explores the work of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) in developing a network that connects roughly 1500 Catholic ethicists around the world. It highlights the impact that CTEWC has had in encouraging Christian ethics to become [...] Read more.
This essay narrates and explores the work of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church (CTEWC) in developing a network that connects roughly 1500 Catholic ethicists around the world. It highlights the impact that CTEWC has had in encouraging Christian ethics to become more inclusive, active, and mindful in advancing a network that builds bridges beyond the northern paradigm. In this narrative, we see how CTEWC planned and realized three major international conferences in Padua, Trento, and Sarajevo and six regional conferences in Manila, Nairobi, Berlin, Krakow, Bangalore, and Bogota. Together with its monthly newsletter, CTEWC has also sponsored a visiting scholars program in Bangalore, Manila, and Nairobi, a PhD scholarship program for eight women in Africa, and an international book series with eight volumes and over 200 contributors. Throughout, we respond to the challenge of pluralism by answering the call to dialogue from and beyond local culture. As it enters its second generation with new leadership, CTEWC pursues critical and emerging issues in theological ethics by engaging in cross-cultural, interdisciplinary conversations shaped by shared visions of hope, but always mindful that we must engage the Global South and go beyond the northern paradigm where most contemporary theological ethics occur. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
16 pages, 267 KiB  
Article
Reconstructing an Ethics of Credit in an Age of Neoliberalism
by Ilsup Ahn
Religions 2019, 10(8), 484; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10080484 - 17 Aug 2019
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3211
Abstract
One of the most formidable socio-economic challenges which Christian communities are facing today is the growing dominance of neoliberalism. From wheat fields in Brazil to Wall Street in New York City, neoliberalism is marching on everywhere with its massive credit (or credit money). [...] Read more.
One of the most formidable socio-economic challenges which Christian communities are facing today is the growing dominance of neoliberalism. From wheat fields in Brazil to Wall Street in New York City, neoliberalism is marching on everywhere with its massive credit (or credit money). The purpose of this paper is to address a key structural injustice of neoliberalism—the deepening colonization of “social capital” by “financial capital.” Since the 1980s, a new economic process known as “financialization” has structurally changed the global economic system entailing an extreme income and wealth gap between the haves and the have nots. It has also rendered a countless number of ordinary people vulnerable to various types of debt entrapment while destroying the environment on a global scale. Behind all these forms of social and natural disintegration lies a crucial neoliberal apparatus fueled by credit. This paper engages in such problems by attempting to reconnect the lost link between social capital and financial capital. In doing so, it first analyzes the genealogical origin of the separation between financial capital and social capital. The author then comes up with ethical principles to re-anchor financial capital in social capital through a critical and interdisciplinary exploration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
16 pages, 294 KiB  
Article
Transformational Ethics: The Concept of Obedience in Post-Conciliar Jesuit Thinking
by Antje Schnoor
Religions 2019, 10(5), 342; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10050342 - 27 May 2019
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 6452
Abstract
The paper sheds light on the change in the concept of obedience within the Society of Jesus since the 1960s. In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, a so-called crisis of authority and obedience took place in the Catholic Church and the [...] Read more.
The paper sheds light on the change in the concept of obedience within the Society of Jesus since the 1960s. In the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, a so-called crisis of authority and obedience took place in the Catholic Church and the religious orders. As a consequence, the notions of responsibility and conscience came to the fore in the Jesuit definition of obedience. The religious concept of obedience, that is the obedience towards God, was reassessed as a service to humanity. The paper analyzes how the change in the concept of obedience gave rise to the promotion of social justice, which the Society of Jesus proclaimed at General Congregation 32 in 1974/75. By including the promotion of social justice into their central mission, Jesuits not only fundamentally transformed their self-conception, but also their ethical values. The paper argues that the pursuit of social justice became a form of religious obedience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Reenvisioning Christian Ethics)
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