Rawls and Religious Community: Ethical Decision Making in the Public Square
Christian Bioethics 2007 May-August; (13)2: 171-181
While most people may initially agree that justice is fairness, as an evangelical Protestant I argue that, for many religious comprehensive doctrines, the Rawlsean model does not possess the resources necessary to sustain tolerance in moral decision making. The weakness of Rawls's model centers on the reasonable priority of convictions that arise from private comprehensive doctrines. To attain a free and pluralistic society, people need resources sufficient to provide reasons to tolerate actions that are otherwise intolerable. In addition to arguing for the deficiency of the Rawlsean political model, I sketch out a preliminary model of ambassadorship that offers religious communities, and in particular Protestant evangelicals, the necessary resources to engage the broader society tolerantly while maintaining their religious convictions. As a citizen of the church and a member of another kingdom, Christians serve as ambassadors to those who are not of the heavenly kingdom. I take this model to be more ambitious than that of a sojourner who lives in the land but is isolated as much as possible from society, while more modest than that of reconstructionists who seek to implement their own sacred law on all others.
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