World events have made clear that liberal society must become more resilient in the face of totalitarian challenges. But how is liberal society to do that? In this groundbreaking work, social ethicist Elmar Nass presents the ethical and anthropological foundations of a liberal social order within a Christian conception of humanity and society in an ecumenical spirit. In doing so, Nass revives the long-neglected discussion on the ethics of order.
Christian foundations and claims are currently confronted with alternative social-ethical concepts from other religions, traditions, and social philosophies. Nass argues that Christian social ethics has a critical role to play as it engages the world.
Nass vividly discusses fundamental and concrete social challenges for human dignity, freedom and justice (such as peace, integrity of creation, euthanasia, family, social justice, digitalization, behavioral economics, and many more) in the light of the threefold Christian responsibility (before God, before oneself, before one another). He articulates ethical orientations derived with clarity from a Christian foundation of values.
The Christian social ethics system presented by Nass is a transparent value template that can be applied to ever new challenges in the present and in the future. With this understanding of social responsibility, questions of racism, migration, gender and sexuality, the environment, and public health and pandemics, among many others, can thus be addressed and answered.
Nass offers a full-throated and robust Christian position for the value discussions of our time.
Elmar Nass holds the chair of Christian Social Sciences in Cologne. He was ordained a Catholic priest in Rome in 1994, holds a doctorate in theology and social economics, and completed his Habilitation (postdoctoral thesis and postdoctoral lecturing qualification) in social philosophy. He is an external scientific expert on welfare issues for the Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU) and scientific advisor to the CDU workers’ wing. He is a board member and advisor to numerous socio-ethical societies and publishes on value issues of the social order.
Chapter 1. The Search for Good
Chapter 2. Sanctification of the World
Chapter 3. Ecumenical Perspective
Chapter 4. Mission in Crisis
Chapter 5. Theological Humanism Beyond Christianity
Chapter 6. Normative Humanism Beyond Theology
Chapter 7. Ethics Beyond Normative Humanism
Chapter 8. World Authority for Unconditional Human Dignity
Chapter 9. Creation, Justice and Peace
Chapter 10. Life, Work and Death
Chapter 11. Economy and Economic Order
Chapter 12. Leadership and Organisational Culture
Chapter 13. Future Questions
"Elmar Nass makes a plea for Christian social ethics. He shows that social ethics based on Christian tradition is a moral compass that provides orientation in all social issues. His classification addresses the pressing challenges of our time and contributes to a global understanding of ethical principles."
"This Christian social-ethical milestone on the justification and huge challenges of a free social order convincingly profiles theology as a social science with global appeal."
"Elmar Nass has written an important book for our present and future world. In the face of the turbulence, global challenges, and worldwide violence and crises, we need orientations for a social and ethical togetherness—beyond religious boundaries!"
"Elmar Nass provides a comprehensive, fundamental work, continuing the traditional natural law approach but also exploring its suitability for the future. He provides important standards for the assessment of current problems . . . This is a book that is likely to have a significant impact on the scholarly discussion of social ethics in the coming years.”
“In a time when Christian ethics is losing ground in society, this book offers a superb approach of a qualitative ethics of principles and values for the social order in the Catholic tradition. It argues for a liberal order that takes into account alternative worldviews and that gives orientation for tangible social issues.”
“Reading this book makes it immediately clear why a liberal social order is based on well-founded values that it does not generate by itself. The Christian ideas of man, dignity and society are presented as convincing foundations of our society, on the basis of which many very concrete social questions can be answered in a very insightful an inviting way.”
"Contains very concrete positions from a theological-ethical point of view that are important for the discussion of social and economic ethics issues.”
“This book is an extraordinarily comprehensive and, at the same time, profound presentation of Catholic social doctrine’s basic principles, fundamental references, controversies, and fields of application. ‘Imagine there is a God’ is the starting point of Nass’ self-confident conviction that Christians, with their ‘substantive social ethics,’ have something valid to say to the world and are serious partners in ethical disputes. This work is indispensable for all those who aim at being well-informed about the contents and the reasons for the Church’s teachings on the most discussed social questions.”
"The Christian concept of man and society are the pillars of Ludwig Erhard's idea of a free and humane economic and social order. Elmar Nass presents this value-humus as a universal claim, which makes the liberal society resilient against the needy paradigms of social inhumanity."
“Christian social ethics are desperately needed. To formulate them today means also to be aware of the roots of other ethical views based on belief systems or philosophical traditions. Elmar Nass gives an overview grounded in his deep understanding of this difficult topic and the gift of differentiation that the ancient church fathers called with the Latin term discretio. Studying it will provide the reader with a roadmap of Christian social ethics and the ability to understand that it is different because it is based on Him who is the way, the truth, and the life itself.”
“Elmar Nass’s book is a heartening reminder that there are still Catholic theologians in Germany who stand up to the zeitgeist in society and ecclesiastic institutions and do so with erudition and strength. This book unapologetically bases Christian social ethics on Jesus Christ’s mandate to sanctify the world. It is an important contribution to renewing Catholic social thought also in the English-speaking world.”
“The relevance of Christian ideology for modern society is often controversial. Nass offers a concrete and differentiated explanation for the remaining high relevance of central Christian aspects and how social interactions still benefit from this fundament.”
"This book provides a profound and up-to-date confrontation of Christian social thought with modern ethical theories. A must-read for anyone concerned with the contribution of Christian ethics to current moral issues in business, economics, and society."
Elmar Nass's book illustrates the potential of social ethics in the Catholic tradition for secularised and multi-religious societies. The author develops a Christian-based concept of human dignity and highlights interreligious points of contact and interfaces with secular philosophy. He provides examples of application to various social and economic challenges, ranging from social justice and good leadership to topics such as family life, organ donation and euthanasia. Altogether, the clear Christian positionings on central normative debates of the present indicate the relevance of Catholic social teaching in the world of today and, furthermore, offer bridges for non-Catholic and non-religious readers.
Nass’ work is insightful, rich and engaging. He sets out an excellent and reflective diagnose of different social values in religions and worldviews while exploring the reasons and possibilities for constructive dialogues with Christian ethics.
“This book by Elmar Nass meets the challenge of our times. Starting with Catholic social teaching, he turns to a dialogue with other positions of social ethics by using theology, philosophy and the social sciences. A bridge between classical and modern approaches of Christian social ethics.”
“This book boldly presents the Christian idea of salvation as an anthropology of which its values make up a convincing social ethic to face the postmodern challenge of global justice."
“In order to put the free democratic social order on a stable foundation of values, Elmar Nass brings the Christian ideas of man and society back into the conversation."
“Self-confident without polemics, open for dialogue with secular worldviews and other religions beyond platitudes: Elmar Nass sketches a rich and timely panorama of Christian social ethics that should not only interest devout Christians. The book demonstrates how the Christian tradition can be a partner for a global humanistic ethics and impresses with original perspectives on major problems of our time.”
Nass looks at how Christian values are key to understanding and overcoming many of the global issues threatening our society today, and he presents a full-throated and robust argument as to why Christians must stand up to secularization. In this groundbreaking work, Nass presents a powerful Christian social ethic system that can not only restore our society in the short term but can also be applied as a template for overcoming new challenges that will arise in the future.