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1. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Christine Gudorf, Paul Lauritzen Preface
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selected essays
2. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
John Langan Hope in and for the United States of America
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IN A CONTEXT IN WHICH THE COUNTRY IS SHARPLY POLARIZED AND ISSUES of public policy are deeply divisive, reflecting on the theological virtue of hope is instructive. The language of hope helps us see that ultimately our hope must be in God, not in a political entity. Nevertheless, we can have hope for the United States that is both generous and critical in spirit. Such hope allows us to chart a course between presumption and despair, and embracing such a hope would go a long way to healing the divisions that currently exist in the country.
3. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Stanley Hauerwas, Linda Hogan, Enda McDonagh The Case for Abolition of War in the Twenty-First Century
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IN THIS ESSAY WE ASK WHETHER CHRISTIANS HAVE THE RESOURCES AND the commitment to make the theological-ethical case for ending war as an instrument of international and national policy in an authentically Christian, intellectually coherent, and practically feasible way. Historical precedent for such shifts in mindsets and practices, as occurred with the abolition of slavery, give grounds for hope, as do witness pacifists. In this essay, we argue for a shift in the center of gravity of theological debate by reorienting our vision of the future to the continuing in-breaking of the Reign of God.
4. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
P. Travis Kroeker Whither Messianic Ethics?: Paul as Political Theorist
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IN RECENT YEARS SEVERAL IMPORTANT PHILOSOPHICAL STUDIES ON THE ethical and political character of Pauline messianism have been published by continental philosophers such as Alain Badiou, Stanislaus Breton, Jacob Taubes, and Giorgio Agamben. In contrast to the Weberian "secularization thesis," which interprets Paul's eschatological messianism as one of indifference to worldly conditions, these authors—more in keeping with Walter Benjamin and Karl Barth—interpret it as radically political: a challenge to conventional modern politics of human and especially national sovereignty. In this essay I bring these studies of Paul into conversation with recent critical discussions of Christian political theology to consider how messianic ethics may or may not be relevant to contemporary political theory, particularly in reformulating a "secularity" that neither excludes nor privileges particular religious voices and traditions.
5. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Wyndy Corbin Reuschling "Trust and Obey": The Danger of Obedience as Duty in Evangelical Ethics
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IN THIS ESSAY I EXPLORE THE WAYS IN WHICH OBEDIENCE TO AUTHORITY functions as a moral norm in evangelical ethics, with the potential of constraining and even endangering the multifaceted nature of Christian morality. I consider two particular sources of moral authority in evangelicalism: the Bible and leaders. I discuss the reasons and ways in which obedience to these two sources of moral authority functions in evangelical ethics and provide an ethical critique to these two moral norms and ethical practices. My primary aim is to expand an understanding of Christian morality that takes seriously the narrative dimensions of Christian ethics, conscience formation, moral agency, and skills in moral discernment.
6. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
C. Melissa Snarr A New Discipline?: Beverly Harrison and "Malestream" Christian Ethics
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FOR MANY INTERPRETERS OF CHRISTIAN ETHICS, BEVERLY HARRISON'S work signals a break from mainstream, or "malestream," ethicists. Although Harrison certainly originated an important shift in Christian ethics, scholars need to recognize not only her breaks but also her continuity with the history of Christian ethics (e.g., her critical appropriation of H. Richard Niebuhr's theological anthropology and social-historical method). I contend that dominant male academic discourse can more easily exclude Harrison—and other feminists—from the conversation if her "themes do not comport" (see Hauerwas 1998) than if we see the connections with traditional "theological and ethical frames."
7. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Scott Bader-Saye Thomas Aquinas and the Culture of Fear
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FROM POLITICS TO THE MARKETPLACE, FEAR PLAYS AN INCREASINGLY important role in American culture. It shapes decisions as well as character, while it feeds an "ethic of security" that raises personal and national safety to the status of highest good. How might Christians respond faithfully to a culture of fear? This essay draws on Thomas Aquinas' account of fear in the Summa Theologica to provide a set of analytical categories and diagnostic questions in hopes of helping us become more reflective about fear. At the very least, this discussion seeks to reintroduce the premodern categories of ordered and disordered fear to challenge the modern presumption that fear is a pre-political "given" in its twin forms of anxiety and terror.
8. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
David A. Clairmont Bonaventure on Moral Motivation: Trajectories of Exemplification in His Treatment of Voluntary Poverty
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IN THIS ESSAY I EXPLORE THE THEME OF MORAL MOTIVATION IN BONAventure's writings on evangelical poverty. By searching for an implied account of moral motivation in these more directly practical writings, I chart three trajectories of exemplification: meditation on the life of the exemplar as student and teacher (personal motivation), meditation on the exemplar as one who responds in a mediating way to social changes (social motivation), and meditation on the exemplar with respect to future control of one's own environment (temporal motivation). By examining each of these trajectories in Bonaventure's thought with reference to the case of voluntary poverty, I offer an account of moral motivation that embraces individual and psychological, as well as historical and institutional, aspects of moral exemplarity.
9. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jennifer A. Herdt Virtue's Semblance: Erasmus and Luther on Pagan Virtue and the Christian Life
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BOTH ERASMUS AND LUTHER WRESTLE WITH THE PROBLEM OF APPARENT virtue, although in divergent ways. Luther excludes the possibility of any habituation in true virtue that is not grounded in prior recognition of utter dependency on divine activity. Because social formation may simply conceal the absence of this essential starting point, it is always suspect. By contrast, Erasmus regards grace as working through human activity and by way of natural processes of social formation. He leaves room for gradual habituation in virtue that culminates rather than begins in recognition of true virtue as gift-grace. Thus, Erasmus is able both to countenance true pagan virtue and to offer a differentiated critique of particular social practices of the day that warped formation in Christian virtue. Retrieving an Erasmian critique of apparent virtue will allow a Christian ethics of virtue to avoid communal chauvinism while cultivating charity toward pagan virtue.
10. Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics: Volume > 25 > Issue: 2
Jan Jans The Belgian "Act on Euthanasia": Clarifying Context, Legislation, and Practice from an Ethical Point of View
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AGAINST THE BACKGROUND OF VARIOUS EUROPEAN LEGISLATIVE INITIAtlves dealing with medical-ethical decisions at the end of life and an introduction on the Belgian "Act on Euthanasia," in the first part of this essay I present a concise comparison between the Belgian law and the provisions of Dutch legislation. In the second part of the essay I aim at a better understanding of the Belgian legislation by documenting two (missed) opportunities that might have enhanced the outcome by addressing the complexity of end-of-life decisions and the proper position of palliative care. I offer some preliminary conclusions in light of the implementation of the law in Catholic institutions as well as its first official evaluation.