Faithful Innovation argues that Christian ethics at its best has always been an exercise in practical wisdom by which Christians have attempted to respond to challenges in ways that are both faithful to the tradition and fitting to present circumstances.
Part 1 of the book sets out a view of ethics and practical wisdom that integrates philosophy, history, psychology, and the neurosciences. Part 2 argues that a distinctly Christian practical wisdom will take its bearings from Jesus’ claim that the rule of God is at hand. Part 3 addresses matters of gun control, gene editing, and capital punishment to model actions that can be both faithful to the goal of God’s rule and attentive to the limits and possibilities of present realities.
The Kingdom of God and practical wisdom are seldom paired in work in Christian ethics, but Lewis shows how they are interdependent. That they are so related, moreover, Lewis exploits to provide an account of ethics that is constructive and hopeful. In many ways this book is a sign of the continuing importance of H. Richard Niebuhr. For that alone we are in Lewis’s debt.
Duke University, retired
Paul Lewis’s Faithful Innovation provides readers with an approach to Christian ethics that both values the vision and principles of the Christian tradition and also sets out a way to realize these in the present day, filled with new challenges and complexities. Lewis shows us how to do Christian ethics as an exercise of practical wisdom. In doing so, he clearly describes a way to engage in Christian moral discernment that draws on the biblical tradition in conjunction with what we can also learn from a variety of voices and disciplines. It is a welcome, readable, and helpful contribution to the field of Christian ethics and to communities of Christians who seek to be faithful in today’s world.
Associate Professor of Religion
Paul Lewis’s Faithful Innovation is accessible and a joy to read. Its primer on ethics, and its integrative interdisciplinary account of practical wisdom and portrayal of the historical context in which Jesus lived and taught, will be especially useful to the non-specialist, and all readers will benefit from the author’s provocative and challenging discussion of what a contemporary Christian practical wisdom might look like in action. Even though, as befits the indeterminacy to which practical wisdom must respond, some readers may reach different judgments on the merits of particular issues than the author does, all will be wiser for reading this book. The focused questions and bibliographies further enhance the important contribution the author makes to our understanding of, and approach to, the vexed and controversial moral issues of our times. I will recommend Faithful Innovation widely and look forward to using it in my own teaching and research.
—Mark L. Jones
Professor of Law
Mercer University School of Law
Faithful Innovation presents a critical, methodical, and practical approach to Christian ethics that will challenge students, scholars, and other inquisitive readers to think deeply about the moral life. The volume invites readers to ask self-critical questions about who they are, what is going on in the world, and how to respond faithfully. Lewis draws on an impressively broad array of historical and contemporary sources to inform his lucid proposal for construing practical wisdom in light of the rule of God. With chapter summaries, discussion questions, and analysis of current controversial issues, the book is ideal for use in college and seminary classes.
Professor of Religion