Grace in the Garden

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Morality as given by God is sown in the hearts of all people.

When I survey American evangelicalism, an issue plaguing our public engagement is the implied notion that Christian concerns over what is just and moral are inherently sectarian. In other words, our concerns for the world are only “Christian concerns” and not concerns about the world more broadly. Relatedly, what Christians consider as imperatives for engagement are often mediated through the politically popular. For example, there is no shortage of Christian enthusiasm to marshal our resources to combat sex trafficking.

But the same quest for justice animating our excitement in one arena demands equal attention in others if we are to be consistent. Christian engagement cannot stand, or fall, based on what is popular. Our reflection on addressing social ills cannot be determined by whether society accepts our claims as Christians, but whether society itself lives with or against the grain of God’s creation. This is our Father’s world, whether the world realizes it or not.

Is there a consistent moral backdrop for Christians to solidify our public proclamations? A few years ago, I wrote an essay for Christianity Today with Dan Darling entitled, “We Should Expect Non-Christians to Share Our Morals.” We argued that there are not two differing moralities, one for Christians and another for non-Christians, but two differing responses to a single morality: obedience or disobedience to what God has ordered for all. Christian morality is the moral reality shared by all people because God’s true and good creation encompasses everything.

Historically and theologically, the idea of a single, intelligible and discernible moral order given by God is referred to as “natural law.” Often …

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