Among the evils addressed by Christian theology, says Stephen
Ray, must be the evil perpetuated by its own well-meant
theologies. His important project examines the downside of the
category of social sin, especially in theologians' use of
destructive stereotypes that have kept Christians from realizing
and engaging the most pervasive social evils of our
time—racism and anti-Semitism.
To make his case, Ray examines problematic ways in which
several theologians describe the reality of social evil.
"Theologians," he contends, "often unwittingly
describe [social] sin in terms that may themselves be profoundly
racist, sexist, heterosexist, anti-Semitic, and classist." He
contends that they must attend more carefully to the social evils
deeply embedded in their own patterns of language
and thought. Ray looks specifically to the work of Reinhold
Neibuhr and Dietrich Bonhoeffer to document unintended
theology's oversights and then to Augustine, Luther, and Calvin
analyze the strains and strengths of traditional notions.
Not only theologians and ethicists but also ministers and laity
benefit from Ray's thoughtful reconsideration of the social