Shaping the Moral Life: An Approach to Moral Theology

By Klaus Demmer; James E. Keenan et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TEN
MORAL TRUTH IN THE OPENNESS OF THE SPIRIT

Moral Truth and Theories of Truth

Moral theologians speak to the people of their time—and want to be understood by them. It is only fair, then, to require them to be intellectually open and up-to-date with the evolution of culture. In particular, moral theologians must be aware of the philosophical debate to work out a point of view that is intellectually unchallengeable. Such a demand has nothing to do with an eclectic attitude like the one characterizing moral theology in the time of the Enlightenment: it is rooted in the keen awareness that the human spirit is historically determined. Indeed, the recognition of truth's historicity cannot be played out against the absoluteness of its claim. This situation certainly holds for moral truth as well. The history of the spirit (Geistesgeschichte) moves toward a deeper penetration (eindringen) into the fullness of truth that eventually leads to the discovery of new perspectives. It is like a living mosaic whose tiles gradually come together to form an ordered whole. Intellectual patience is needed from moral theologians. They cannot feel satisfied with simplifications or, worse, give in to the appeal of improvised solutions; they must let themselves be drawn into the adventure of the spirit and travel, at least for a stretch, along the same path as philosophers who open for them the meaning of reality.

Moral theology cannot remain within the limits of a discussion about moral contents. In spite of its undeniable importance, the concern for moral norms is only one aspect—and certainly not even the most important—of moral theology's problems. The alternative would be to reduce the discipline

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