In my prior post I made the observation that emerging progressive thinkers are often motivated by 21st century notions of compassion and justice, which the Christian tradition, they say, does not support.
Examples would be the unjust treatment of women, LGBTQ, and persons of color.
As a traditional Christian, I share these concerns from within a biblical framework.
But is this possible?
I believe so. The Bible provides abundant resources for social ethics, beginning with the creation story and moving forward through the Mosaic Law, OT prophets, Sermon on the Mount, epistles, and elsewhere.
These resources are under-appreciated, to say the least.
On college campuses, for example, the Bible is often thought of as the cause of injustice, certainly not a solution.
Yet it was Jesus himself who modeled progressive relations with women and minorities.* Additionally, he suffered and died for their salvation.
The law of Moses prescribed an overall treatment of slaves, widows, and foreigners that far surpassed the practices of surrounding nations of the time period (see my post on slavery and the Bible).
And going all the way back to early Genesis, we see that human beings are created in God’s image and endowed with inherent value – a much stronger valuation than that given by secularism, which has only materialistic evolution to support its notions of human dignity and equality.
What I’m trying to say is that too many people reject traditional Christian social ethics without understanding what they’re leaving behind.
Ironically, many of their intentions are actually in line with biblical principles. They may say, “I’m committed to justice, so I’m rejecting the Bible and its racism/sexism/classism/etc.”
My contention, however, is that this is a dismissal of a gross caricature of the Bible, not the actual teachings of the Bible.
But what of the more informed, thoughtful Bible student who’s fully aware of traditional social ethics and simply disagrees? This person has begun to embrace increasingly progressive positions on issues such as gender, sexuality, and religious pluralism.
I’ll respond to this person in my next post.
* Two sample passages are Luke 7:34-50 and John 4:1-27