Protestant Social Teaching

An Introduction

With Essays BY alastair roberts, matthew lee anderson, brad littlejohn, john wyatt, and more
About this book

Do Protestants have answers to the pressing questions of the day?

For over one hundred years, the Roman Catholic Church has steadily curated a body of papal encyclicals, classic texts, and go-to answers on pressing moral issues of the day, that has come to be known as “Catholic Social Teaching.” Meanwhile, in Protestantism, mainline churches have steadily jettisoned nearly every historic Christian moral teaching in an effort to make the faith more “relevant” and progressive, while evangelicals, though still committed to Scripture, have often done little better in holding fast to the norms that used to guide faithful Christian discipleship when it came to love, war, and everything in between. However, Protestants too have a rich heritage of social teaching, if only they knew their own tradition, a heritage that dovetails on many points with Roman Catholic teaching, but is also inflected by the Reformation’s emphasis on the goods of the family and the nation.

Now, for the first time, we are planting a flag for “Protestant social teaching,” a coherent, catholic, biblical set of convictions about what it means to love one’s neighbor in both personal and political life. The essays in this volume span the breadth of human life, from birth to death, from work to welfare, while providing a clear moral compass on hot-button issues like abortion, just war, and environmental care. This volume brings together contributions from a dozen authors who have deeply studied these diverse moral issues from a classical Protestant standpoint, distilling their biblical and historical insights into short, accessible chapters that can guide the reflections of every pastor or Christian leader.

Paperback | 270 pages | 6×9 | Published october 13, 2022 | ISBN 978-1-949716-13-9

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“One of these principles is that of the natural law and original righteousness. A basic moral guidance can be discerned in virtue of humanity’s rational nature. Sin causes men to repress this morality or misuse it, but it is never fully lost to the human consciousness. The work of Christ, too, is a restoration of the original righteousness possessed by mankind due to his having been created in the image of God. Protestant Social Teaching, then, does not point man beyond a rational morality towards a new and heretofore unknown frontier. Rather it redirects him back to his own rational morality. The Reformers taught that the human conscience can and eventually will grasp God’s truth. Or perhaps it would be better to say that the human conscience, as it is renewed, will be grasped by God’s truth. As a human being grows in a truer and better knowledge of God, he grows in the knowledge of himself, and as he grows in a truer and better knowledge of himself, he grows in the knowledge of God. Thus, rather than retreating to a final ecclesiastical interpreter, Protestants equip men to progress in understanding. “

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Steven Wedgeworth


I: Law and the Christian
E. J. Hutchinson

II: The Civil Magistrate
Bradford Littlejohn

III: Resistance and Rebellion
Glenn Moots

IV: Just War
Mark LiVicche


V: Procreation and Children
Matthew Lee Anderson

VI: Abortion
Steven Wedgeworth

VII: Sex, Marriage, and Divorce
Onsi Aaron Kamel & Alastair Roberts

VIII: Death and Dying
John Wyatt


IX: Work and Labor
Joseph Minich & Colin Redemer

X: Private Property
Eric Enlow

XI: Taxation and Welfare
Allen Calhoun

XII: Environmental Care
Jake Meador

Praise for this work

Protestant Social Teaching takes its Catholic counterpart as its inspiration for mining the rich Protestant tradition for relevant resources to inform Christian thinking on social issues. As the essays in this necessary volume show, the Protestant churches have much wisdom to share. The sources, voices, and reflections contained in these essays are vital to a rejuvenated moral life of the US and its churches. I am confident they will meet the response they merit: energized Christian engagement with the vital social issues of our day that, like these excellent essays, draws on the riches of the Christian traditions.”

– Joseph E. Capizzi

Ordinary Professor of Moral Theology, The Catholic University of America

“If we are to witness moral renewal in our societies, Protestants will have a major role to play, and I say that as a convicted Catholic. This volume, Protestant Social Teaching, comes as a revelation—a revelation that there is a coherent tradition of Protestant moral theology that can still offer concrete guidance to doctors and nurses, statesmen and judges, soldiers and policemen today. The essays on marriage, sexuality, life, dying, work, and the home are particularly insightful. Only by looking backward can we gain the perspective needed to move forward, and these essays offer a model of retrieval in service of practical discipleship. The result is a book that will benefit both Catholic and Protestant readers.”

– Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D

President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, author of When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment

“This rich volume provides evidence that the Protestant tradition is a valuable resource for serious Christian reflection on perennial social and political themes. The various authors are self-consciously anchored in the great tradition that extends from the early church to the magisterial reformers. As such, they show how the Protestant tradition is both in continuity with the Christian past and, at the same time, a unique source of serious reflection on the most profound social and political issues of our day.”

– Mark T. Mitchell

Dean of Academic Affairs and Professor of Government, Patrick Henry College.


E. J. Hutchinson is Associate Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College, where he also directs the Collegiate Scholars Program. His research focuses on the intersection of Christianity and classical civilization in late antiquity and early modernity. He is the editor and translator of Niels Hemmingsen, On the Law of Nature: A Demonstrative Method (CLP Academic, 2018).

Bradford Littlejohn is President of the Davenant Institute and Fellow in Evangelicals in Civic Life at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His research interests include Christian ethics, church history, and political theology. He is the author of The Two Kingdoms: A Guide for the Perplexed (Davenant Press, 2017), The Peril and Promise of Christian Liberty: Richard Hooker, the Puritans, and Protestant Political Theology (Eerdmans, 2017), and Richard Hooker: A Companion to His Life and Work (Cascade Books, 2015).

Glenn A. Moots is Professor of Political Science and Philosophy at Northwood University and also serves as a Research Fellow at the McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship there. He is the author of Politics Reformed: The Anglo-American Legacy of Covenant Theology (University of Missouri Press, 2010, 2022 paperback), and he coedited, with Phillip Hamilton, Justifying Revolution: Law, Virtue, and Violence in the American Revolution (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018).

Marc LiVecche is the McDonald Foundation Distinguished Scholar in Ethics, War, and Public Life at Providence: A Journal of Christianity & American Policy. He also serves as a non-resident research fellow at the U.S. Naval War College.

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Assistant Research Professor of Ethics and Theology at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion and the Associate Director of Baylor in Washington. He is an Associate Fellow at the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life at Oxford University where he completed a D.Phil in Christian Ethics. He is the author of two books: Earthen Vessels: Why Our Bodies Matter to Our Faith (Bethany House Publishers, 2011) and The End of Our Exploring (Moody Publishers, 2013).

Steven Wedgeworth is the rector of Christ Church Anglican in South Bend, Indiana. He has written for Desiring God Ministries, the Gospel Coalition, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and Mere Orthodoxy, and served as a founding board member of the Davenant Institute.

Onsi A. Kamel is Editor-at-Large of Ad Fontes, and is currently a doctoral student in the Religion Department at Princeton. His academic interests lie chiefly in systematic theology, historical theology, and philosophy. His academic writing has been published in The Scottish Journal of Theology, and his popular writing has been published in First ThingsMere Orthodoxy, and elsewhere. He is one of the co-hosts of the Ad Fontes podcast, and lives in Princeton with his wife Elaina, daughter Nora, and son Faheem. Follow him on Twitter at @ONSIKAMEL.

Alastair Roberts works for both the Theopolis Institute and the Davenant Institute. He participates in the Mere Fidelity and Theopolis podcasts, blogs at Alastair’s Adversaria, and tweets at @zugzwanged. He is the co-author of Echoes of Exdous (Crossway, 2018) with Andrew Wilson

John Wyatt is Emeritus Professor of Neonatal Paediatrics, Ethics & Perinatology at University College London and a senior researcher at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, Cambridge. He is the author of numerous books including Matters of Life and Death: Human Dilemmas in Light of the Christian Faith (IVP, 2009), Right to Die? Euthanasia, Assisted Suicide and End of Life Care (IVP, 2015), and Dying Well (IVP, 2018).

Joseph Minich is an Instructor of Philosophy at Mountain View College. He is the author of Enduring Divine Absence (Davenant Press, 2018) and the editor of several books with the Davenant Press. He lives in Garland, Texas, with his wife and four children.

Colin Chan Redemer is Vice-President of the Davenant Institute, Poetry Editor of Ad Fontes, Fellow of the Henning Institute on Catholic Social Thought, and Adjunct Associate Professor at St. Mary’s College of California where he co-founded the campus chapter of the SEIU Local 1021 and continues to serve as the Chief Steward. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Aberdeen, exploring the philosophy of friendship.

Eric Enlow is Vice-President of Handong Global University and Dean and Professor at Handong International Law School. His publications include The Christian Theology of Law: An Introduction (Journal of Christian Legal Thought, 2018) and Mosaic Commands for Legal Theology (Cambridge Journal of Law and Religion, 2017). He is an active member of the Missouri Bar.

Allen Calhoun is a McDonald Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University. After twenty years working as an attorney and a writer and editor in the legal profession, he is currently researching and writing at the intersection of law and theology. His book tentatively titled Tax Law, Religion and Justice: An Exploration of Theological Reflections on Taxation is forthcoming from Routledge.

Jake Meador is the author of What Are Christians For? Life Together at the End of the World (IVP, 2022) and In Search of the Common Good: Christian Fidelity in a Fractured World (IVP, 2019). He is the Editor-in- Chief of Mere Orthodoxy. His writing has been featured in First Things, Commonweal, and National Review amongst others.


The Davenant Institute endeavors to restore wisdom for the contemporary church. We seek to sponsor historical scholarship at the intersection of the church and academy, build friendships and facilitate collaboration within the Reformed and evangelical world, and equip the saints with time-tested resources for faithful public witness. Below are some of the works we’ve published towards that end.

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