We are slowly maturing into a post-evangelical world. Our fundamentalist/evangelical dogmatism--inerrancy, indifference to the environment, deterministic Calvinism, purity culture, racism, LGBTQ discrimination, male dominance, and Christian nationalism--is being exposed for its complicity to exploit and control. The core work of Christian ethics is above all to stay focused on the example and teachings of Jesus, contextually understood, with an understanding of church tradition, human reason, experience and relationships. Post-evangelicals can embrace an expansive view of flourishing in the real world. My book After Evangelicalism: The Path to a New Christianity attempts to chart a course forward, and my personal memoir, Still Christian: Following Jesus Out of Evangelicalism, relays my own experiences in this movement.
With the publication of Changing Our Mind, I've often been in the middle of what is perhaps the most controversial cultural issue in our nation today. The primary issue, or at least the primary call, is to address the fundamental basis of anti-gay sentiment at its religious taproot. The LGBTQ issue has been fundamentally misunderstood as a sexual ethics issue; actually, it is a youth health/mental health and family cohesion issue, especially for LGBTQ young people from religiously conservative families. See my signature LGBTQ speech, from a Reformation Project gathering in Washington, D.C., calling for the Church to end the teaching of contempt toward LGBTQ people. See also "I’m an Evangelical Minister. I Now Support the LGBT Community — and the Church Should, Too" in The Washington Post.
Holocaust and Genocide
Genocide is the gravest kind of human violence, and must be studied so it doesn't happen again. My earliest work as an ethicist resulted in Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: Genocide and Moral Obligation. I also teach a class on genocide and the syllabus is available here. I'm also honored to be speaking for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in the summer of 2021.
Human Rights and Torture
For three years I served as the President of Evangelicals for Human Rights which supported and partnered with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. These efforts continued for several more years with the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good. These groups pressed for full respect for human rights in US counterterrorism policy and zero tolerance for torture. Along with 17 other scholars, I was the principal drafter of An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture. My work on the torture issue culminated in an involvement in the national Detainee Task Force of the Constitution Project, which released its report in 2013. I have also served on the Board of Advisors of the Center for Victims of Torture. See also my question to then Senator Barack Obama at the 2008 Compassion Forum convened by Faith in Public Life.
I believe that the death penalty should be abolished, and have spoken and written frequently about the issue. See for example the Christianity Today article How Biblical Is it to Be Pro-life and Support the Death Penalty? with Richard Land and Glenn Stassen.
Creation Care and Climate Change
I was the main drafter of the Evangelical Climate Initiative (2006). An initiative of the Evangelical Environmental Network, the ECI statement argues that human-induced climate change is a serious moral issue that requires Christians, policymakers, and others to take immediate action. I remain in dialogue with various scientific, ethical, and religious leaders and organizations to work on these climate-related efforts, such as the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School.
Sacredness of Life
I adhere to a consistent sacredness of life ethic. I have written and spoken consistently against our culture’s abortion practices, believing that abortion is primarily a cultural rather than a policy issue. I have participated in dialogue efforts such as being a part of an episode of OnBeing with host Krista Tippett in a dialogue with Frances Kissling, a longtime reproductive rights activist. I'm also an advocate for principled health care at the end of life, and have written about it in Baptist News Global.
For nearly thirty years, I have been involved in peacemaking efforts and concerned especially about nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation. I supported the Two Futures Project, which aimed at getting the United States to embrace a goal of zero nuclear weapons as a national policy, and to lead in international negotiations for a world without nuclear weapons. This remains a major powers issue as well as a global issue with developing countries.
I am committed to the Christian ethical norm that marriage is to be entered into carefully and to last for life, what can be called covenantal marriage. I have prepared dozens of couples for marriage, officiated at numerous weddings, and with my wife Jeanie have led numerous marriage enrichment classes. I've written about marriage in Getting Marriage Right.
Racism is indeed “America’s original sin” (Jim Wallis book). I speak out for racial justice in a variety of arenas, such as in policing, education, and criminal justice and incarceration. My American Academy of Religion presidential address focused on what historic and contemporary African-American novels have to say about white Christian racism.
Peacemaking is a core topic for any Christian ethicist. I've summarized my mentor Glen Stassen's brilliant 10 Practices of Just Peacemaking Theory here. I care deeply about issues related to Israel and Palestine. I also support a balanced, just peacemaking approach equally committed to the rights and the well-being of both Israelis and Palestinians, and equally resistant to unbalanced American Christian approaches of either the right or the left. I am pro-peace, pro-justice, pro-Israel, and pro-Palestine, and believe this is the only way forward for all concerned.
Truth and Truthfulness
I never thought that truth itself would become a major subject of inquiry for me as a Christian ethicist, and yet the times we live in now demands it. In my Baptist News Global Truth Decay series, I take on truth as an issue in Christian ethics, what is truth, the Old Testament on truth, the New Testament on truth, truth and character, truth as Christian humility, truth as covenantal, truth in the public square, how lies lead to evil, and how Christians are supposed to tell the truth.