IN PRISM'S BOOK BAG: KINGDOM ETHICS – FOLLOWING JESUS IN CONTEMPORARY CONTEXT

reviewed by Foy Valentine

Baptist Christian Social Ethicists Glen Stassen and David Gushee have jointly authored a book representing their "conviction that the moral witness of Jesus Christ our Lord has been neglected, misunderstood and even evaded," resulting in "nothing less than the malformation of Christianity." To which I lustily shout, Hear! Hear! This is a big, good book.

It will be particularly helpful for seminary and college students who will find it devout, thorough, and well-documented as they study Christian social ethics now and as they return to it for years to come. Pastors and Christian laypersons will be significantly helped by the breadth and depth and practicality of this book. As a Christian ethicist who has plowed in this field for more than fifty years, I cannot imagine not going often to this excellent resource for insights, information, practical help, and treatments that are fair and informed regarding the many issues addressed.

The book is rooted firmly in Old Testament theology and in New Testament teachings. The reign of God envisioned particularly by Isaiah and the Sermon on the Mount as preached and taught by Jesus constitute the stackpole for this volume.

It is strengthened by numerous personal references and experiences by the authors. I was prepared to find the joint authorship problematical, even difficult; but that challenge has actually been resolved about as well as it could be, I think. In some respects the book is actually better for the diversity brought to the subject by these two strong Baptist ethicists.

While the authors, both academicians, have allowed certain personal preferences and leanings to be reflected in what they have written, this is not a major problem. They generally lean over a good bit to try to be fair when there are clearly two possible interpretations or approaches as the reader can see clearly in Stassen's chapters related to peace and peacemaking and in Gushee's chapter on abortion.

. . .The book does have some serious, even glaring, oversights, omissions, and weaknesses. Still, KINGDOM ETHICS has some impressive strengths:
1. It is consistently focused on Christian social ethics.
2. It reflects decades of serious, scholarly, and devout study.
3. It shows a thorough knowledge of the subject.
4. It is chock full of helpful references to the works of others.
5. It presents a combination of courage and compassion in good prophetic tradition.
6. It is practical, relevant, and biblical.
7. It is timely but firmly anchored in changeless principles.

Counsel: Spend the $30 and buy this book.

Foy Valentine is the retired executive director of The Christian Life Commission, SBC. This review was excerpted from the March 2003 issue of THE BAPTIST STUDIES BULLETIN, produced by The Center for Baptist Studies, Mercer University. To read more reviews, go to www.mercer.edu/baptiststudies/Bulletin/Mar03ARC.htm#special

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