In college I took a class on Christian Ethics. At the time I was deep in the “Reformed stage” of my journey, so I read a lot of the classic writers in that arena.
I decided to center my final paper around a quote I found quite compelling:
Grace is the essence of theology and gratitude is the essence of ethics. – G. C. Berkouwer
At the time, and for many years, this made good sense.
Just last night, I recalled this quote and realized that it didn’t seem to fit any longer.
So, I propose a revision:
Faithfulness is the essence of theology and unity is the essence of ethics.
In short, this is a paradigm shift from the traditional historic Protestant way of thinking.
The core of theology is understood to be both God’s faithfulness toward us and our faithfulness to Him and to one another through community. The core of ethics is unity, primarily with each other (the “One Anothers” of the New Testament) and obliquely with the world at large as well as with Him and in His reign over all.