Give John J. Collins credit for showing his cards up front. In his "What Are Biblical Values?" Collins aims to lay out, as dispassionately as possible, what the Bible actually says on a range of issues in contemporary debate—abortion, homosexuality, marriage and family, the environment, slavery, violence, and social justice.
Collins doesn't think the Bible gives clear answers to most of these questions. The Bible is internally contradictory, a "running argument" with "conflicting values." It doesn't matter anyway: "Biblical values are not normative or acceptable for modern society simply because they are found in the Bible." They have to be sifted and critiqued, both by comparison of Scripture with Scripture and by "dialogue with modern values," which represent "clear advances in moral sensitivity." The Bible contributes to the church's deliberations, but "its contribution is not necessarily decisive.”