Investing theologically in the global ethics dialogue

By Simon Barrow
April 12, 2011

I have just registered as a participant on - a global network of people and institutions interested in various fields of applied ethics. It offers access to a large number resources on ethics, especially through its leading global digital ethics library.

In addition, facilitates collaborative web-based research, conferences, online publishing and active sharing of information.

The initiative aims especially at increasing access to ethics perspectives from Africa, Latin America and Asia. It seeks to strengthen global common values and respect of ethical contextual diversity.

Valuably, does not take an advocacy position around a particular kind of 'global ethic', but promotes conversation and dialogue around both convergent and divergent perspectives.

More on here:

Ekklesia's own investment in ethical discourse and action is theologically grounded, and is much more in the spirit of 'virtue ethics' (based on the character of moral agents and the promotion of concrete practices that embody a vision of 'the good') than on the dominant deontological (rules-based) or consequentialist (ends shaping means) traditions.

As we spell out in our Values Statement (

Ekklesia seeks to reinvigorate a different understanding of the church as an alternative-generating ‘contrast society’ within the wider civic order: one that is hospitable, politically aware, intellectually curious, spiritually refreshing, theologically rooted, voluntarily associational, actively nonviolent, and radical in its social commitment.

The Greek word ekklesia denotes a people's assembly within the public square. It is also a key New Testament term for the practice (rather than the institutionalisation) of ‘church’, reminding Christians of the inescapably political nature of their existence - and summoning them as followers of Jesus Christ to a fresh form of social life based on mutuality rather than self-aggrandizement.

While remaining committed and involved in a positive exchange between mainstream traditions (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal and indigenous), Ekklesia naturally draws much of its specific inspiration from the dissenting strands within Christianity, not least the ‘historic peace churches’ (Quakers, Mennonites and other Anabaptists), liberation theologies and non-conformism.

Ekklesia is therefore ‘radical’ in its conviction that the Gospel subverts power and privilege, both personally and corporately. And it is ‘progressive’ in the sense that it sees change coming through risk-taking hopefulness, not through a destructive lust for security and certainty.

In proposing a renewal of religious-political discourse, Ekklesia is especially concerned to develop the public significance of concrete practices like reconciliation, non-violence and peace-building, economic sharing, hospitality (welcome and inclusion), restorative justice, social equality, forgiveness, neighbourly freedom, the community of women and men, nurturing life as 'gift', environmental sustainability, and global solidarity with all those pushed to the margins.

From Ekklesia’s perspective, the resources needed to signal hope in a fearful world demand far more than has traditionally been imagined by self-styled ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ in the various religious and humanist/secularist traditions.

Life in all its fullness cannot be achieved by the social and natural sciences, technological advance, economic development, democratic accommodation, autonomous reason, ethical theorising and political operation alone - it requires a major change of heart and mind; a turnaround (metanoia) in the basic way we relate to each other, to the world and to God.

From our perspective, engagement in public life is therefore also an invitation to think in a theologically transformative way – that is, to recover the hidden wisdom of the Gospel for a post-Christendom world, so that we can begin to see 'the other' in terms of invitation and promise, rather than threat or competition.

Read the full statement here:


(c) Simon Barrow is co-director of Ekklesia.

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.