In his steps

Beyond the assumption that everybody is just like us
I’m teaching “The Bible and Ethics” this semester with my New Testament colleague Mark Chancey. It should be a pretty straightforward project, since most moral advice in the church begins and ends in scripture. But connecting text and practice in a rigorous way turns out to be surprisingly complex, both for professors and for students.

We decided to begin simply, with Charles Sheldon’s novel In His Steps and Sheldon’s question, which all the students know: What would Jesus do? The answers in the novel exude Social Gospel confidence, suggesting that any “genuine, honest, and enlightened Christian” could figure out what the Savior portrayed in the Gospels would do. Sheldon’s characters come up with the answers with a good dose of sociological analysis and a minimum of biblical citation.

 

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