Christian Ethics - An Introductory Reader
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This comprehensive anthology of primary documents and materials explores the evolution and study of Christian ethical principles. It may be used independently, or alongside the accompanying textbook, Introducing Christian Ethics, for a complete overview of the field.
  • Represents the entire canon of Christian ethics, including first-hand accounts from major figures in the theological and ecclesial tradition
  • Introduces foundational figures such as Augustine, Aquinas, and Luther; contemporary theorists including Jűrgen Moltmann, Stanley Hauerwas, and Wendell Berry; in addition to work by work by non-theoretical figures, such as Ghandi and Martin Luther King
  • Features useful introductory material that demonstrates the significance of each extract and how they relate to each other
  • May be used independently or together with the accompanying textbook, Introducing Christian Ethics; both books share the same structure and are cross-referenced for ease of use


Samuel Wells is Dean of Duke University Chapel and Research Professor of Christian Ethics at Duke Divinity School, Durham, North Carolina. He has written widely on Christian social ethics, including God’s Companions: Reimagining Christian Ethics (2006), The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics (edited, with Stanley Hauerwas, 2004), and Introducing Christian Ethics (with Ben Quash, 2010), all published by Wiley-Blackwell.



Part One The Story of Christian Ethics.

1 The Story of God.

The People of God.

Tertullian, Against Marcion.

Karl Barth, Israel and the Church.

John Howard Yoder, If Abraham is our Father.

Oliver O’Donovan, Yhwh Reigns.

God in Person.

John Calvin, The Purpose for which Christ was Sent by the Father.

Stanley Hauerwas, Jesus: The Presence of the Peaceable Kingdom.

Following Jesus.

John Calvin, The Sum of the Christian Life: The Denial of Ourselves.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Costly Grace.

2 The Story of the Church.

Minority Status.

The Epistle to Diognetus.

Perpetua, The Martyrdom of Perpetua.

Clement of Alexandria, Who is the Rich Man That Shall Be Saved?


Eusebius of Caesarea, A Speech on the Dedication of the Holy Sepulchre Church.

The Rule of St. Benedict.

John Howard Yoder, The Constantinian Sources of Western Social Ethics.

The Church in Western Modernity.

Ernst Troeltsch, The Gospel Ethic.

H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ the Transformer of Culture.

3 The Story of Ethics.

Philosophical Ethics.

Plato, The Republic.

Aristotle, The Nature of Virtue.

Religious Ethics.

Sumner B. Twiss, Comparison in Religious Ethics.

Mohandas K. Gandhi, Experiments With Truth.

The Dalai Lama, The Supreme Emotion.

Professional Ethics.

Tom L. Beauchamp and James F. Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics.

Thomas F. McMahon, A Brief History of American Business Ethics.

4 The Story of Christian Ethics.


Augustine, The City of God.

Thomas Aquinas, Of War.


Martin Luther, Temporal Authority.

Menno Simons, A Kind Admonition on Church Discipline.

Legacies of Division.

John Wesley, The Use of Money.

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Confl ict Between Individual and Social Morality.

William Temple, Christian Social Principles.

Part Two The Questions Christian Ethics Asks.

5 Universal Ethics.

Right Actions.

Karl Barth, The Command of God.

Thomas Aquinas, The Natural Law.

Thomas Hobbes, Natural Law and Natural Right.

Immanuel Kant, The Categorical Imperative.

Right Outcomes.

John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism.

Richard A. McCormick, Ambiguity in Moral Choice.

Joseph Fletcher, Situation Ethics.

Right Relationships.

Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (On Capital and Labor).

Bartolomé de las Casas, History of the Indies.

General Assembly of the United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

John Rawls, A Theory of Justice.

6 Subversive Ethics.


Gustavo Gutiérrez, The Church in the Process of Liberation.


James Cone, Black Theology of Liberation.


Rosemary Radford Ruether, Sexism and God-Talk.

Delores S. Williams, Womanist Theology.

Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Mujerista Theology.

Age and Disability.

Jean Vanier, In the Presence of the Poor.

Rowan Williams, The Gifts Reserved for Age.

7 Ecclesial Ethics.

Persuasive Narratives.

Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue.

John Milbank, Theology as a Social Science.

A New Aristotelianism.

Thomas Aquinas, Of the Virtues.

Samuel Wells, Forming Habits.

Stanley Hauerwas, The Narrative Character of Christian Ethics.

The Christological Turn.

John Howard Yoder, The Possibility of a Messianic Ethic.

Part Three The Questions Asked of Christian Ethics.

8 Good Order.

The State.

Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (On Reconstruction of the Social Order); Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris (On Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity, and Liberty).

The Kairos Document.

The Barmen Declaration.

Justice and Punishment.

Oliver O’Donovan, The Death Penalty in Evangelium Vitae.

Daniel and Philip Berrigan, Civil Disobedience.

Timothy Gorringe, Atonement, Retribution, and Forgiveness.

War and Violence.

Paul Ramsey, Justice in War.

Camilo Torres, Love and Revolution.

Dorothy Day, Our Country Passes from Undeclared War to Declared War; We Continue Our Christian Pacifi st Stand.

9 Good Life.

Economics, Wealth, and Poverty.

Adam Smith, The Invisible Hand.

Medellín Conference.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I See The Promised Land.

Work, Business, and Management.

Max L. Stackhouse, Spirituality and the Corporation.

Miguel A. de la Torre, Corporate Accountability.

Alasdair MacIntyre, “Fact,” Explanation, and Expertise.


Pope John Paul II, Aetatis Novae (On Social Communications on the Twentieth Anniversary of Communio et Progressio).

Mary E. Hess, Growing Faithful Children in Media Cultures.

Michael Budde, Christian Formation in Global Culture Industries.

10 Good Relationships.


C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves.

Mary Daly, The Fire of Female Friendship.

Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship.

The Family, Marriage, and Sex.

J. I. Packer, Personal Standards.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, Reimagining Families.

Vigen Guroian, An Orthodox Ethic of Marriage and Family.


Stephen J. Pope, Homosexuality and Natural Law.

John Boswell, Homosexuality in the Scriptures.

Eugene F. Rogers, Sanctifi cation, Homosexuality, and God’s Triune Life.

11 Good Beginnings and Endings.

Contraception, Assisted Conception, and Genetic Engineering.

Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (On the Regulation of Birth).

Margaret A. Farley, Feminist Theology and Bioethics.

Oliver O’Donovan, Begotten or Made?


James M. Gustafson, Abortion: An Ethical Case Study.

Beverly Wildung Harrison with Shirley Cloyes, Procreative Choice.

Stanley Hauerwas, Abortion and the Church.

Euthanasia and Suicide.

Richard A. McCormick, Proportionalist Reasoning.

Jennifer A. Parks, Gender and Euthanasia.

Gilbert Meilaender, Suicide and Euthanasia.

12 Good Earth.


Andrew Linzey, Reverence, Responsibility, and Rights.

Carol J. Adams, Institutional Violence, Feminist Ethics, and Vegetarianism.

Stephen H. Webb, The Lord’s Supper as a Vegetarian Meal.


Derek Burke, Genetic Engineering of Food.

Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating.

Michael S. Northcott, Faithful Feasting.


Jürgen Moltmann, An Ecological Doctrine of Creation.

Sallie McFague, The Body of God.

Laura Ruth Yordy, The Church’s Eco-Discipleship.

Source Credits.

Names Index.

Subject Index.


"Two Anglican theologians, Samuel Wells and Ben Quash, have written an excellent textbook introducing ecumenical Christian ethics. . . This book is a gift for an instructor trying to write a syllabus, and a student who mastered it would be ready for further steps in academia." (Theology, 1 November 2011)

"The success of this publication and of the ecclesial ethics movement from which it comes is significant." (Regent's Reviews, 1 October 2010)

"The selection of readings is excellent and I’d happily have my students devour them"
Esther Reed, University of Exeter 

"Clear, sharply focused and precisely what is needed. This book is enlightening and potentially transformative. It presents Christian ethics as an exciting theological enterprise and offers a rich, deep and accessible way of practicing ethics."
John Swinton, University of Aberdeen

"Wells and Quash have put together a wonderfully comprehensive survey of Christian ethics while at the same time offering a distinctive and fresh perspective ... With the array of primary texts and judicious and very well informed commentary that the two volumes represent, they have succeeded in constructing an extremely valuable resource for teachers and students of Christian ethics."
Michael S. Northcott, University of Edinburgh (of Introducing Christian Ethics and Christian Ethics: An Introductory Reader)