Considering the Case for “Prophetic Ethics”: Surveying Options and Recognizing Obstacles -- By: M. Daniel Carroll R
ATJ 36 (2004) p. 1
Considering the Case for “Prophetic Ethics”:
Surveying Options and Recognizing Obstacles1
M. Daniel Carroll R. (Rodas) (PhD, University of Sheffield), has been Professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary since 1996. From 1982–1996 he served in a similar capacity at El Seminario Teológico Centroamericano in Guatemala City, Guatemala. He continues as adjunct professor there.
Evangelicals have always shown interest in the prophetic books. Because of our commitment to the Bible as the Word of God, we have been very diligent in our study of this literature: we work at uncovering their historical background, some learn Hebrew and work at exegesis to better mine their treasures, and all of us try to learn their theological message in order to communicate and apply that truth. In some circles—especially at a lay, popular level—the fascination with eschatology has generated a variety of detailed scenarios about the future based on some of these prophetic books, particularly Ezekiel and Daniel.
Interest in the prophetic is commendable. At the same time, however, the prophetic books can and should orient us in another important area of our existence and faith, an area which often has been overlooked: social ethics. It is ironic that we as evangelicals, who are committed to a high view of the authority of the Scripture and who are proud of our biblical knowledge, have not given this fundamental part of the prophetic message the attention it deserves. It is time that evangelicals reread the prophetic literature and recognize its contemporary relevance. Theologically, in light of our commitment to the Bible, it is inexcusable to ignore this important task. Missiologically, it is crucial that we do so in order to be able to reflect better upon our calling and obligations in a fallen world.
Sometimes when evangelicals have entered the public arena to speak out or act on issues, it has been sobering to witness how unprepared we have been to articulate clearly a substantive and sensitive (even sensible!) biblical position. This has repeatedly been the case in Latin America, where I have spent much of my life. While it is true that there has been phenomenal church growth in several countries south of the border, the lack of adequate biblical and theological thinking in the analysis of sociopolitical problems and in the elaboration of viable solutions has been equally evident. Over the last two
ATJ 36 (2004) p. 2
decades there has been a growing desire among Latin American evangelicals to have a more visible profile, but the results thus far have not always been encouraging. One could ...
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