Shifting Sand: Reconnecting Social Work Values to Historical Biblical Foundations

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Kevin J. Brown


Ethics, Social Work Values, Integration of Faith and Practice


The profession of Social Work, historically rooted in a Christian faith helping tradition, began a digression from its religious roots while struggling to differentiate itself from other social sciences and define a unique professional identity.  To distance from an ambiguous reputation as a disorganized collection of liberal-minded but well-intended social interventions and practitioners, the profession took a positivist/scientist turn.  In the ensuing absence of clear, foundational principles such as those historically defined with a Christian faith, the profession attempted to define a values base embedded in a set of ethical codes designed to regulate professional behaviors.  Over multiple iterations, the code has grown in length and specificity in an attempt to balance diversity while defining morality.  Despite these developments this paper contends that Social Work’s key values are so thoroughly engrained in a Judeo-Christian tradition that the fundamental values currently espoused by the profession mark a recapturing of its historical moral foundations.

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