Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Doctrine of God in Theological Ethics

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

The Doctrine of God in Theological Ethics

Article excerpt

The Doctrine of God in Theological Ethics. Edited by Michael Banner and Alan J. Torrance. New York: T&T Clark, Ltd., 2006. xi + 220 pp. $160.00 (cloth), $61.41 (paper).

In April of 1997 the Research Institute in Systematic Theology at King's College London held a conference titled "The Doctrine of God and Theological Ethics." The Research Institute had been holding weekly seminars on this topic, and it appears that the enthusiasm and quality of the discussion led to the creation of this conference, and subsequently, to this group of essays. For technical reasons, the publication of these essays has been delayed by nearly ten years. The contributors include: Alasdair MacIntyre, Germain Grisez, John Hare, Stanley Hauerwas, Fergus Kerr, Joan Lockwood O'Donovan, Oliver O'Donovan, Wolfhart Pannenberg, Murray Rae, Miroslav Volf, and John Webster.

The main question the essays address is the relationship between moral convictions and the Christian understanding of God, occasioned by the challenge of secularism to the relevance of religious faith. The secularist's challenge is appropriately posed by Alasdair MacIntyre, in the first essay, "What Has Christianity to Say to the Moral Philosopher?" MacIntyre poses five issues to which the Christian theologian should feel compelled to respond, such as articulating the status and authority of rules, or describing the nature of radical evil. The response of the Christian theologian should be that (non-Christian) moral philosophy has inadequately addressed these issues, and that Christian theology can make a unique and pivotal contribution to them. The essays contained in this collection effectively do that.

As explained in the book's excellent introduction, the editors have discerned that the religious response can be grouped into four ways of understanding the relationship between morals and theology. The first way, following Kant, is to assume that ethics is prior to theology. …

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