“Why Another Book on Christian Ethics?” by Kent A. Van Til

Kent A. Van Til
Kent A. Van Til

Kent A. Van Til is author of Less Than Two Dollars a Day: A Christian View of World Poverty and the Free Market. His new book, The Moral Disciple: An Introduction to Christian Ethics, will be released in just a few weeks and is available for preorder now. 

In this post, he explains why he wrote the book — and what he hopes it will accomplish in the lives of its readers.

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Why another book on Christian ethics?

One reason I wrote this book was simply to see where my thoughts on the subject would lead me. Having taught college courses exploring various aspects of ethics for some time, I wanted see where my thinking might take me and my students. As I did, I read a number of other texts on ethics and Christian ethics and found that most texts advocate one certain way of doing Christian ethics. Almost none are non-partisan. By this I mean that many books argue that a Virtue or a Narrative approach is the only way to “do” Christian ethics; or that the Ten Commandments or Natural Law is the only way, etc.  But standing on only one of these various branches of ethics simply doesn’t provide a sturdy enough foundation to bear the full weight of the moral life.

What I wanted to do in The Moral Disciple is to show that various approaches to ethics can all be genuinely Christian. Christians all want their virtue enriched by faith, their norms guided by Scripture, and their goals aimed at the Kingdom of God. Following Christ as a model of virtue, a standard of behavior, and a goal in life must all be part of a well-rounded Christian ethic.

The Moral Disciple
The Moral Disciple

What I didn’t want to do in The Moral Disciple is to write a book only for other scholars. My interest has always been less to see how the Christian faith works (systematic theology) than it has been to see how Christian faith relates to various aspects of everyday life (ethics). So I hope that college or seminary students who are being introduced to the subject via this book will keep it on their shelves. I also hope that adult study groups in the Church might take it up and be motivated by it to pursue a Christian moral life more fully.

Writing a book on ethics certainly does not mean that I have all the answers to trying moral issues, or that my own morality is everything it should be. I wish that were the case. Rather, I hope that the basic method I present in this text will be useful to other believers as we all strive to follow Christ.

Click to order The Moral Disciple: An Introduction to Christian Ethics by Kent A. Van Til.