A Survey of Recent Christian Ethics

By Edward Leroy Long Jr. | Go to book overview

4
Ongoing Forms of Institutionalism

Belief in the contributions made by structures of justice and order to the implementation of Christian ethical decisions has been extended and to some extent enriched since 1965. This has not been an auspicious period, particularly in the United States, for affirming the importance of institutionalized arrangements for achieving social objectives. However, belief in the importance of institutions has not evaporated from the scene and its continued appearance is an essential part of the continuing story.

We examine first Helmut Thielicke discussion of the political order in the second volume of his Theological Ethics. He takes note of the changes that have occurred in the forms and functions of the state since Luther developed the two-kingdoms version of Augustinianism. Thielicke examines the shift from authoritarian to democratic means of controlling political affairs and concludes that this shift does not require us to abandon the Pauline/ Lutheran formulation since "all the theological teachings associated with it can be transferred without difficulty to other kinds of state. Theirs is simply one of a variety of forms which the state has taken and may take." 1

But although the shift toward the democratic state does not require us to abandon the Pauline/Lutheran framework, the rise

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