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Book Critique: Reviving Evangelical Ethics Critical Essay

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Updated: Dec 21st, 2019


The authors of this book have established the effect of Reuschling’s classic models on the evangelical ethics. These models are controversial in a Christian point of view. The book outlines the ethics on Jesus Christ and the Church.The author seeks to discredit the manner in which Reuschling has constituted evangelical ethics. However, Reuschling seeks to steer the Christian religion from ridicule.

In this regard, she has undertaken to establish a framework which will provide a model manifest of the kingdom of God. She argues that the Christian faith is compelling for the Christians because the ideas it offers to the believers transcend the norm.

The ideas of Christianity are more appealing compared to the ideologies of Kant, Mill and Aristotle. The book will provide sufficient analysis of Reuschlng’s success. This book will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the evangelicalism.


Evangelicalism refers to the commitment, fortitude and devotion towards the gospel. This aspect is manifest in personal faith in God. This is an understanding of scriptural message, which gives a person divine authority to teach , evangelize and exhort people to follow Jesus Christ. Reuschling’s strength is that she is committed to giving a sound approach to evangelical ethics.

She does not concentrate on minor doctrines, which do not relate to the broad subject of evangelism. Reuschling bears criticism in the sense that she took part in laying more emphasis on a hybrid social gospel than personal holiness. She argues that the ethics of Christianity have become a relative issue, whereby personal opinion supersedes standard morals in society.

In addition, the people have been called upon, to take a hard line positions with regard to the evangelical ethics crafted by Reuschling. However, liberals and secularists outlined challenges which gave rise to fundamentalism. This culminated in a radical change from a religious initiative to a social political entity, in evangelicalism.

The American vision has brought a reminiscence of Biblical Christianity in the modern world. This owes to the fact that many people have advocated for “red politics” instead of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this regard, Reuschling has come up with legacies pertaining to the American evangelism.

These legacies border the historical and social aspect of evangelicalism. The legacies highlight the issues pertaining to duty, utility and virtue of ethics. The first legacy is the commitment to the Bible in order to get moral and divine guidance.

The second legacy is that the conversion of multitudes of people to Christ is a land mark achievement of all time. The third achievement is the emphasizing of personal piety to be the guarantee of moral integrity. According to Reuschling, the American evangelicals are myopic in the aspect of salvation resulting to flaws in the corporate ethics (Reuschling, 2008, 45).

She argues that the evangelicals hold unto a false believe that they are always right with God. This has led them to believe that they are automatically right in any other thing in the world. However, Reuschling blows the issue out of proportion given that she underrates the worship of people especially the evangelicals.

Reuschling introduces their major models of ethics. According to Kant, duty ethics refers to an ideal representation of the enlightenment of thought. This definition emanates from the fact that duty ethics elevates the reasoning power and a person’s rationality to a higher level. Kant argues that morality is based on theoretical and reality reason.

His Philosophy lays emphasis on the supreme principle of duty in an ethical context. For instance, the act of lying is wrong regardless of the benefit derived from lying. On the other hand, Geissler, terms Kant’s school of thought as undue absolutism. In this regard, Geissler posits that people should treat their colleagues as an end rather than a means to an end.

Furthermore, he conjectures that a person ought to act when he or she is sure that his or her action will be supported by all the people in the society. Geissler also illustrates Reuschling’s inappropriacy through the use of the subject of the immorality of murder. Reuschling discusses the legacy of Utility according to John Mill’s perspective. Utilitarianism is the maximization of opportunities for a large group of people.

Mill asserts that it is impossible for people to welcome pain and abandon pleasure. He further argues that the Almighty God takes pleasure in making his people happy all the time. In this regard, Mill posits that everybody treasures happiness, which can only be obtained in justice. However, Mill defines justice as molding of the human society into understanding the Biblical truths, which bring happiness to people.

Reuschling disagrees with this claim and presumes that the understanding of the scriptures does not necessarily mean that they will be properly applied in real life situations (Reuschling, 2008, 57). Reuschling’s understanding of virtual ethics is that morality of a person is based on a person’s heart. In this regard, virtues bring happiness to a person. A virtue is developed in many ways. This includes habits and friendships.

According to Aristotle, there are two categories of virtues: intellectual and moral virtues. Virtues enable people to take charge of their actions. In this regard, people manage to restrain from indulging in condemnable actions in society. Reuschling’s views on the ethical models are philosophical whereas Geisler’s views are based on scripture.

In addition, Geisler seeks the Biblical principles on controversial issues whereas Reuschling and Wilkens do not bother to seek the Biblical stand on controversial issues like euthanasia and abortion.This is the reason as to why Geisler’s works are preferred by many Christians. The Bible is a reference to many Christians hence it is easy to understand issues based on biblical teachings and principles.

The Biblical phrase of ‘Trust and obey’ explains the duty based approach.Most People are obey the Bible without necessarily obeying it. This deontological view has some drawbacks. Reuschling argues that the odeontological view disregards the scriptural revelation and effectiveness in restoration of sanity in society. Furthermore, this view fails to give insight on how the Bible ought to be read.

Reuschling affirms that obedience is better than sacrifice for all the Christians (Reuschling, 2008, 68). She conjectures that the Holy book, The Bible, ought to be revered by all and sundry. This is because it will lose meaning to people if it is considered to be just an ordinary book. The rule based approach is misleading in the understanding of the scriptures due to the fact that the context of the scriptures is ignored.

Reuschling highlights the misunderstanding of people with regard to scriptures. In this regard, he affirms that God saved the Israelites in order to establish his kingdom through the covenant. This qualified al the Israelites as God’s covenant people, who were set apart to worship the Lord and live at peace among themselves and other people. Obedience is an aspect which was upheld by the past Christians than the modern Christians.

However, the conventional truth among all christens is that obedience is crucial in true worship of God. In the past disobedience led to the demise of some servants of God, which shows the seriousness of obedience in the past. This aspect of obedience is vital in the Christian faith given that it helps people to be true servants of God. In addition, it helps them tom understand the scriptures and God’s will upon their lives.

This chapter deals with the comparison of utilitarianism to the modern sensitive method. Reuschling doubts that getting many people saved is the greatest achievement in the evangelicalism. In this regard, he highlights four issues. She asserts that utilitarianism is ignorant of the welfare of the community in the Christian walk.

She asserts that this approach demeans Christianity hence making it look like a commodity in the market. Her disagreement with the seeker-sensitive approach is well informed because this approach lays emphasis on the personal needs. Reuschling outlines the major goals of evangelicalism of being right with God and getting saved through Christ Jesus. She focuses on the corporate nature of Christianity.

Christian morality is anchored on the relationship between an individual and God. This is the source of Godliness in a Christian’s life. This implies that evangelical morality draws on an individual relationship with God. Christian ethics is the natural practice of virtues which emanate from an individual’s good relationship with God. This practice is also determined by an individual’s relationship with other people and the world.

However, Reuschling falls short of the requirement of Christian teachings when she asserts that the moral vision of God’s kingdom is the requirement for evangelicalism (Reuschling, 2008, 71). This owes to the fact that the personal knowledge of God is the determinant of a suitable person to join evangelicalism. This is illustrated in the parable of the treasure in the field whereby the king is the reference rather than morals.

Reuschling disapproves of Aristotle’s model concerning evangelicalism because Aristotle’s Plops and Jesus ’Ecclesia are not similar. This implies that the principles and virtues, which apply in each case, are different. For instance, the virtue of humility in Christianity is a vice in Aristotle’s model.

Spiritual formation is a vital principle in evangelicalism. However, Reuschling criticizes this aspect because it is influenced with individualism. This compromises the spiritual aspect in spiritual formation. She argues that the image of Jesus Christ should be manifest in the spiritual he process of spiritual formation. The American church is full of individualism, but Reuschling does not provide a solution to such a misnomer.

Community mission and personal gratification are paramount in pursuance of Christianity. However, Reuschling advocates for social gospel, which is based on the personal needs of people. She also affirms that being right with God is not an assurance for righteous living in the world. In addition, she conjectures that being right with God is not a scapegoat for ignoring injustice.

His owes to the fact that being right with God requires devotion and commitment. However, the scriptures in the book of Romans affirm that all the people called and justified by God will be glorified by Him.

This implies that true Christian converts will automatically exhibit Godliness in their actions. This lot will do well to other people and the community. Reuschling fails in her relentless advocating for the credibility of hybrid social gospel.

This chapter reveals how Reuschling tries to restructure and rebuild an evangelical ethical model which is reliable. This development of the evangelical model constitutes of three tenets. The use of conscience requires the application of human discerning power. The Christian community helps to provide moral standards in the society. The other tenet is competency.

Competency helps in the application of correct concepts in restructuring of evangelical ethical model. However, scripture will be instrumental in giving guidance with regard to use of the conscience. Reuschling reveals that the American evangelicalism is subjective because it applies the human intellect in analyzing spiritual issues.

In this regard, she establishes that the American clergy just study the Bible in order to gather more knowledge void of spiritual revelation. She clarifies that the acquisition of much knowledge without the wisdom and revelation to apply the knowledge, does not make sense. Reuschling also highlights Calvinism, which features depravity and elevation of sin.

This phenomenon makes turns sin to a normal and moral thing depending on the ethical situations. However, total depravity is a principle which I intended to move people closer to God in perception and practice rather than striving to please God. She argues that the history and the church are factors which are ignored in the development and restructuring of the evangelical ethical model.

Reuschling resists the general view that salvation is subject to an individual’s decision. This owes to the fact that many Christians have always sought to interlink salvation to personal situations. She also asserts that the American church has privatized the Christian religion. This is the reason as to why Reuschling is opposed to the personalizing of salvation.

Competency in development of evangelicalism is manifest in the shift from theoretical understanding to reality. This notwithstanding, Reuschling reveres the church institution. This is because she describes it as moral and discerning institution.

She argues that Biblical law serves to guide the Christian folk’s actions and give insight in handling worldly situations. She also advocates for the social gospel to the detriment of the Christians. This is because in a social gospel Christians cannot be reconciled to God.


The book critique has revealed the strengths and weaknesses of each chapter of Reuschling’s book on evangelical ethical model. Reuschling has highlighted the individualism nature in the American church and its impact on the evangelical ethics. However, she has also supported hybrid social gospel which has the same negative impact on the evangelical mission.

The hybrid social gospel also makes Christianity a corporate affair rather than a personal relationship with God. Reuschling’s book has analyzed critical issues pertaining to the evangelical mission and ethical controversies.

The book has also given insight into the true understanding of the Christian faith and salvation. Reuschling seeks to develop the evangelical model in order to reflect the true image of evangelical mission, ethics, salvation and the church.


Reuschling, Wyndy Corbin. Reviving Evangelical Ethics: The Promises and Pitfalls of Classic Models of Morality. Grand Rapids, Mich: Brazos Press, 2008.

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