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Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics

Volume 40, Issue 1, Spring/Summer 2020

Gerald McKenny
Pages 59-76

The Rich Young Ruler and Christian Ethics
A Proposal

In Christian ethics the Gospel story of the encounter of a rich young ruler with Jesus has been interpreted in two major ways: one that treats Jesus’ directive to the ruler as a counsel that goes beyond the commandments the ruler claims to have kept, and another that treats the directive as contained in the commandments and exposing his failure to keep them. I reconstruct Calvin’s version of the second interpretation, contrast it with Aquinas’s version of the first, and point out some problems with it. I then formulate a revised version that avoids the problems and amounts to a promising alternative for Christian ethics.

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