Although “Tough Issues, True Hope” is a guide to Christian ethics, Davis wants to note it stands apart from other books like it. Along with the clear and conversational format, he was serious about it being a concise journey through these topics. “I didn’t want to bog readers down,” said Davis, “but I want them to discover the main ideas and then trust them to pursue them more in the future.”
Being a high school Bible teacher can mean having significant moments of “strategic discomfort.” Four years ago, while planning curriculum for his classes, Luke Davis sensed the angst of how to serve his students gnawing at him more than ever before.
“I had been teaching biblical ethics for the past eight years, and I had done so in other schools before then,” recalled Davis, who serves as the chairman of the Bible Department at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, Missouri. “I was becoming painfully aware that when it came to curriculum and the use of a textbook for our classes, it was incredibly hard to find a sweet spot. The landscape of readings in this area were such that any text we used for class tended to be over the heads of garden-variety high school sophomores and juniors. Anything that went into detailed depth made the waters murkier. On the other side, you could find books that made sense but didn’t give fifteen-and-sixteen-year-olds much to chew on. I looked around for books that weren’t simplistically juvenile, nor would they be too dense. And I wasn’t having much success.”
The answer, said Davis, came to him through his wife. “I was griping one day about the lack of satisfactory resources, and when Christi said something along the lines of ‘You know, you’ve taught Ethics long enough…if you want something done right, you could write your own book.’”
Davis recalled, “I thought she was joking. Or daring me to go into the writer’s equivalent of The Princess Bride’s Pit of Despair. But she was serious and believed I could do it. I didn’t. Crazy me, I went ahead and started writing a book on Christian ethics. In a sense, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, but I knew what I wanted this to look like.”
“This” became Tough Issues, True Hope: A Concise Journey Through Christian Ethics, which Christian Focus Publications will release on May 8, 2020. In 240 pages, Davis gets to the heart of twenty different moral matters. In the first section, “Ideas Matter,” he speaks to contemporary questions of free speech, the use of technology, and racism. Following that with the next part called “Life Matters,” Davis dives into the meaning of life, murder and capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, despair and suicide, the dignity of disabled people, and bioethics. He follows this with an excursion on sexual ethics, bracketed as “Relationships Matter,” and guiding readers through matters like gender roles, marriage and cohabitation, divorce, pornography, homosexuality and same-sex marriage, and the transgender identity question. Finally, viewing how we used what God has given us to be a moral issue, Davis closes the book with his “Stewardship Matters” section. Here, he looks at what Scripture might say about personal care, business ethics, the environment, and immigration.
In chapters ranging from seven to thirteen pages, Davis not only explains core issues but does so in a robust yet digestible format. “I’ve tried to package Tough Issues, True Hope in a way where readers can see how things hold together,” he said. “So, in every chapter except one, I lead readers through a ‘what-so what-now what’ approach. We have to define what the core issue is and define our terms. For instance, people talk about end-of-life matters, but until we clarify what euthanasia is, we’ll be talking past each other and not with one another. I also want to convince people these things matter when they ask “So what?” We don’t just want to know about them, but we want to embrace the reality they are important, and that means taking a look at what the Bible definitively says. And Christian ethics should be practical. We have to put legs on our beliefs, so in the book, I ask ‘Now what?’ How do we make the good life that God calls us to practical?”
Although Tough Issues, True Hope is a guide to Christian ethics, Davis wants to note it stands apart from other books like it. Along with the clear and conversational format, he was serious about it being a concise journey through these topics. “I didn’t want to bog readers down,” said Davis, “but I want them to discover the main ideas and then trust them to pursue them more in the future.”
Another unique feature of the book was driven by Davis’ desire to speak to a post-Christian world. Convinced that readers should want to engage and persuade others of the Bible’s teaching on ethical matters, he wanted to bridge the gap between Scripture and those who might not buy into the authority of the Bible. “Yes, it’s important to demonstrate what the Bible teaches,” he says, “but we need to craft it in a way that connects with others who are skeptical or dismissive about Scripture. It is not only a new book about ethics but a new way of entertaining the biblical view of how to live. Common sense thinking and logic will buttress, not deny, Scriptural insight, so I happen to use story, thoughtful questions, and logical proddings that ask ‘What if God is taken out of the equation? Then what? Do we still end up where the Bible directs?’ And we find the answer is yes. I’d like to think that’s a fresh way of doing moral theology.”
It is a path that resonates with others. One of Davis’ mentors, Rev. Tony Giles, was delighted to find that because Tough Issues, True Hope is “[p]eppered with anecdotes and soaked in Scripture, the reader learns to think carefully and live wisely. And all along the way, [Davis] makes room around the table for those who may not accept the Bible as authoritative.”
Davis hopes followers of Jesus will model that approach more and more: creating that room around the table for skeptics and seekers who may not “be there” just yet and finding God’s good life to be the life they are seeking all along.
Tough Issues, True Hope: A Concise Journey Through Christian Ethics releases on May 8, 2020, and can be initially purchased through both Amazon and the Christian Focus website.
Rev. Luke H. Davis teaches Ethics and Church History at Westminster Christian Academy in St. Louis, where he serves as chairman of the Bible department. He has also written several crime fiction volumes in the Cameron Ballack Mystery Series: Litany of Secrets, The Broken Cross, and A Shattered Peace; and has penned Joël: The Merivalkan Chronicles: Book One, the first book in The Merivalkan Chronicles trilogy. Luke and his wife Christi live with their son Joshua, daughter Lindsay, and retriever Gretel in St. Charles, Missouri.