Being Good at What We Do—or, Being Good - page 3

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From the Fall 2002 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Being Good at What We Do–or, Being Good

by Dennis P. Hollinger, Ph.D.
President and Professor of Christian Ethics, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

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  Obviously one answer is to share with our fellow humans the good news of Christ in whom true and ultimate goodness is found. The gospel is the most solid foundation for ethics, and we have a responsibility to share it with others. Therein is true knowledge of the good and supernatural empowerment to put it into practice.
  But the Bible is also clear that human beings apart from Christ do have some natural moral knowledge and sensitivity. Romans 1 teaches that “ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse” (v. 20). The very next chapter then speaks of Gentiles, who had not received the law of God, doing instinctively what the law requires, showing “that what the law requires is written on their hearts, to which their own conscience also bears witness” (2:16).
  It is this kind of natural law embedded in human hearts that engenders the moral outrage that we have seen in the midst of the corporate scandals. It is this conscience of the heart that often leads people who do not acknowledge Christ to nonetheless evidence forms of natural love, justice, and goodness. Thus, even when people do not operate from a Christian worldview foundation, we can still appeal to their consciences and natural understandings. Though the ultimate foundational depth of moral goodness, righteousness, and justice may be absent from their lives, there remains a sense of moral obligations and character.
  We must acknowledge, however, that the task becomes increasingly difficult in a world where that natural understanding and proclivity is questioned and denigrated. In a culture in which the very notions of goodness and truth are maligned, the natural law appeal becomes much more tenuous. As the Bible acknowledges, humans can reject even the natural perceptions of God and harden their minds and consciences to the moral good. Today we see plenty of that hardening, and the moral relativism and rejection of the very notion of truth add to the challenge.


  Hopefully, the recent corporate scandals can remind all human beings of what should be clear to anyone—namely, that there is a difference between being good at what we do, and being good. Out of the current moral failure comes the opportunity to remind our friends and colleagues of the true source of moral good, the living God of the universe, who makes us good through Jesus Christ. In a world where most struggle for any clear moral foundation, God presents before us an opportune moment. For the Christian worldview with its story of creation, fall, and redemption affords the most adequate story for making sense of the Enrons of this world, and doing something about it. 


Dennis Hollinger was appointed in 2008 as President and Professor of Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, headquartered in South Hamilton, Massachusetts. He is a member of the C.S. Lewis Institute Board of Directors. Dennis and his wife, Mary Ann, have two adult daughters.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE:  Knowing & Doing is published by C.S. Lewis Institute; 8001 Braddock Road, Suite 301; Springfield, VA 22151. Portions of the publication may be reproduced for noncommercial, local church or ministry use without prior permission. Electronic copies of the PDF files may be duplicated and transmitted via e-mail for personal and church use. Articles may not be modified without prior written permission of the Institute. For questions, contact the Institute: 703.914.5602 or email us.
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