Practicing Ethical Principles
While preaching my way through the Ten Commandments again I came across this book by David Gill. Preachers are always thankful to discover quality material like this. Gill combines scriptural investigation with contemporary application of God’s commands, encouraging the reader to reflect critically on his own ethical principles and choices.
I will use his chapter on the eighth commandment (You shall not steal) entitled “Stuff Stewarding” to give you a sample of his treatment. He introduces the commandment by citing a few classic interpretations, including Luther, Calvin, and Rabbi André Chouraqui. Then he systematically works through the biblical teaching on stealing. This brings him to a discussion of why theft is wrong and why we are tempted to steal.
Next, he lays out a “biblical theology of things” which acknowledges as primary the awareness that God is the owner of everything. “If the first concern of economic thinking is to serve God,” writes Gill, “the second is to serve and care for our neighbours.” Koinos (sharing in common) needs to replace idios (thinking in terms of “my own,” the root of our term idiot). He also helps us think through our perceptions towards wealth and poverty in a truly biblical manner.
Gill’s short list of “How many ways can we steal?” includes:
- keeping the change we receive from a cashier when we have been given too much
- taking office supplies for personal use
- failing to work during time for which we are being paid
- underpaying employees
- presenting someone else’s ideas or creations as our own or failing to give credit where it is due
The more complex issues surrounding economic theory, wages and prices, taxes, charitable contributions, gambling, reparations and lifestyle choices also receive his attention.
This book any Christian reader who is eager to learn and grow – a biblical, contemporary, thought-provoking, and action- inducing look at doing right.
Reviewed by Rev. Th. E. Lodder
Author: David W. Gill
Publishing data: Downers Grove, Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 2004
Format: Paperback, 345 pages
Republished with permission from Clarion 56:20 (28-September-2007)