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Doing Christian Ethics From the Margins Paperback – November 30, 2004
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However, there were two exceptions to my "De La Torre Love Fest". On page 36, he argues for an ethics rooted in experience. In my opinion, we stand on a stronger foundation by rooting our ethics in Jesus' teachings, as they were inclusive of the marginalized. Also, I felt that his description of God as one who "empowered" Hagar to suffer sounded too much like the usual dominant culture justification of their historical sin, labeling it "culturally-nuanced" instead of identifying things like slavery and domestic terrorism (i.e., KKK) as an out-and-out violation of God's holy nature. (23) That reasoning is used to justify many things, except for same-sex attractions. For same-sex attractions, we always remember God's holy standard. But in cases outside of sexual issues, God's holiness is footnoted.
I guess this could be used to initiate dialogue, but is often one-sided liberation theology and there are probably better texts that offer a more balanced discussion.
For example, he argues for Affirmative Action on the basis that whites have been historically privileged and that the systems and powers still privilege white people over blacks and Latinos in the educational system. He argues that Affirmative Action helps correct the racism latent in the SAT. The problem is that the racism is not in the SAT, but that the SAT reflects the racism in the classroom. Yes white privilege exists. Yes the SAT is racist. But the SAT correlates very strongly with college GPA. That's the point of the SAT. That's the point of college admissions. If you use Affirmative Action to "fix" college admissions, but do not address the underlying problem, you do nothing. College admissions serve graduation rate. If you admit Latinos and Blacks to college through Affirmative Action, they're likely to flunk out at a greater rate than whites (which they are). You need to fix the actual classroom rather than fixing the admissions policies. The entire book is full of case studies such as the one above where De La Torre provides oversimplistic solutions based on "justice".
Thus De La Torre misdiagnoses problems and therefore misapplies his own theories. You cannot bandy around the word "justice" without really understanding the issues on a deeper level.
De La Torre is a great proponent of contextualized theology and hermeneutics. People interpret their faith and their scripture differently, depending on their situation. In spite of that, De La Torre recognizes the supreme truth of moral behavior when he says "Unlike biblical interpretation, theology, or other religious disciplines, ethics should not be conducted from only one marginalized perspective...ethics from just one marginalized perspective may prove counterproductive." His little "may" there is unnecessary caution, as he was applying Kant's rule of the Categorical Imperative to modern ethical situations. After being so pleased with the author for that remark. less than forty pages later, he says "All ethics and all theologies are and will forever remain subjective - they are incapable of fully comprehending the infinity of the Divine." This incongruity (perhaps not an outright inconsistency) is symptomatic of the fact that De La Torre is not a great scholar.
This is the third of his books I have had in a class, and in every case, there were mistakes in fact, syntax, spelling, or logic. But the mistakes, except for the occasional one like this, tend to be minor. (One of our instructors who knows the author says he runs around the country dealing with various issues, and seems to write his many books on the fly, while in airplanes or waiting rooms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My expected use of these ideas is with my Sunday class time as
I tell others my experience when I review these thoughts of respected thinkers and scholars.
This book was ordered as a requirement for a seminary course at this time that I have yet to experience. I believe it to be a good resource based on the instructors requirement.Published on December 30, 2013 by Qualice Seymour
This is a 'must have' for the book shelves of all Bible students. De La Torre's language is clear and his perspective is spot on.Published on August 30, 2013 by Margaret J. Park
De La Torre is obviously a Marxist, there is no doubt in my mind. He continually references Marxist talking points, and his entire quasi-theological frame is based in the debunked... Read morePublished on September 5, 2010 by Sage
Very well written and researched, people who are interested in the subject of ethics will be pleased. Read morePublished on July 21, 2007 by Lee E. Foster