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Christianity and Social Policies: A Response to Chad Ray

Chadwick Ray acknowledges the growing income disparity in the United States but wonders, citing Paul, if the Christian qualities of piety are not "indifferent to economic circumstances." We would follow Reinhold Niebuhr here who, in The Interpretation of Christian Ethics, distinguishes between the force of piety (gratitude for the goodness of life) and the force of spirituality (contrition for its evil), and warns about using one at the expense of the other. He writes: "Whenever the prophetic faith that all…

Can Social Policy Foster Christian Morality?

A reciprocal relationship exists between the structure of a society and its people. The way one thinks and behaves is profoundly influenced by the policies of the place where one lives. At the same time, social and economic policies are shaped by the cultural environment in which they are enacted. They are often presumed to be the result of a consensus in the society that chooses them, and hence to best reflect the values and priorities of the majority. Yet,…