Interpreter et Agir: Jalons Pour Une Ethique Chretienne

By Vicini, Andrea | Theological Studies, December 2012 | Go to article overview

Interpreter et Agir: Jalons Pour Une Ethique Chretienne


Vicini, Andrea, Theological Studies


INTERPRETER ET AGIR: JALONS POUR UNE ETHIQUE CHRETIENNE. By Alain Thomasset, S.J. Cerf: Paris, 2011. Pp. 422. 32 [euro].

In this engaging volume, moral theologian Thomasset reaffirms the task of today's moral theology: the promotion of our humanization. To achieve this task, he relies, first, on a phenomenological approach that includes the critical contribution of our ethical reflection, the normative role of moral theology, and the practical wisdom that is demanded in the various situations we face. Second, he lays out his understanding of moral theology as a triple hermeneutics that focuses on God's word, on the Christian tradition, and on the experience of believers. These directions of research constitute the first three parts of his volume, followed by a section on the ecclesial and social dimensions of Christian action.

Part 1 studies, first, the use of the Bible in moral theology, by discussing historical and theological models in dialogue with William Spohn's foundational work. Second, it examines the ethical and moral biblical message, by relying on the theological concepts of creation and alliance, inspired by the work of Paul Beauchamp on the unity of the two Testaments.

Part 2 provides the author's hermeneutic in analyzing the Christian tradition. To limit his task, T. focuses, first, on four historical figures (Augustine, Aquinas, Ockham, and Alphonsus Liguori) as emblematic of key historical ages in moral theology (patristic, Scholastic, nominalist, and casuistic). Second, he critically studies natural law by highlighting the difficulty of defining nature and law, its diverse use in magisterial teaching on sexual and social issues, and its complex history (from Aquinas, through the Scholastics, to contemporary approaches). Finally, he comments on the well-known debate between autonomous ethics and faith ethics, exemplified by Josef Fuchs and Philippe Delhaye.

In Part 3, T. addresses the believer's moral life by focusing on: (1) the human person, where he proposes a theological anthropology inspired by Paul Ricceur and Louis Janssens; (2) the tension between conscience, freedom, and moral law; (3) the renewed interest on virtues and character, by acknowledging the contributions of Alasdair MacIntyre, Stanley Hauerwas, and William Spohn; and (4) the intimate unity between morality and spirituality, with an emphasis on discernment that relies on the Ignatian tradition.

The last part broadens the scope of moral theology by discussing the ecclesial and social dimensions of moral life--ecclesially, prayer and liturgical life shape our ethos. Moreover, T. discusses the tasks and responsibilities of the magisterium on moral matters and the interactions with theologians, believers, and civil society. …

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