Creation and Ethics

Lisa Sowle Cahill

in The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780199227228
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Creation and Ethics

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This article focuses on aspects of the theology of creation that are important for Christian ethics today. It identifies five key ways in which the idea of creation has been used in the Christian tradition. It then makes five critical points about how this doctrine has functioned in the past and ought to function in the future. In relation to ethics, the doctrine of creation has often been used to defend a foundation or minimum of human morality that survives the fact of sin and that can provide a natural basis for a just social life. This approach needs to be nuanced and amplified, so that Christian theology can more adequately meet the challenge of working for justice in a global and interreligious context. Confronting problems like economic oppression, gender discrimination, racism, ethnic violence, and environmental degradation, different traditions must, can, and do co-operate to solve common problems while still maintaining and valuing distinct faith identities. To invoke creation is not to bracket religious identity while pursuing common human moral values. Rather, creation is a symbolic point of unity among religious traditions. It can underwrite religious commitment to uphold continuities and commonalities in human moral experiences and obligations across traditions.

Keywords: doctrine of creation; theology; Christian ethics; human morality; religious traditions

Article.  8736 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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