The Heart of Christian Ethics
Edward Collins Vacek, SJ
Although the two great commandments to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves are central to Christianity, few theologians or spiritual writers have undertaken an extensive account of the meaning and forms of these loves. Most accounts, in fact, make love of God and love of self either impossible or immoral. Integrating these two commandments, Edward Vacek, SJ, develops an original account of love as the theological foundation for Christian ethics.
Vacek criticizes common understandings of agape, eros, and philia, examining the arguments of Aquinas, Nygren, Outka, Rahner, Scheler, and other theologians and philosophers. He defines love as an emotional, affirmative participation in the beloved's real and ideal goodness, and he extends this definition to the love between God and self. Vacek proposes that the heart of Christian moral life is loving cooperation with God in a mutually perfecting friendship.
"Nothing in Christian ethics is more important than love. Edward Vacek reviews in masterly but readable fashion the many dimensions of this absolutely central notion. This book, based on broad and critical research, should be a standard reference for years to come."—Richard A. McCormick, SJ, formerly of the University of Notre Dame
"Vacek breaks through the polemics that have too often dominated twentieth-century discussions to a view of Christian love that is simultaneously humanistic and God-centered. Deeply informed both by reflection on the experience of love and by the vast literature about it, this book makes a creative contribution to a Christian ethic that achieves its fulfillment in friendship with God. An important achievement."—David Hollenbach, SJ, Margaret O'Brien Flatley Professor of Catholic Theology, Boston College
"Vacek has brought a breadth of experience and a depth of knowledge, theological and ethical, historical and contemporary, to this systematic new interpretation of Christian love. . . . scholarly, perceptive, clear and well-written."—Charles E. Curran, Elizabeth Scurlock University Professor of Human Values, Southern Methodist University
"Vacek surmounts today's debates in Catholic ethics. He overcomes the gap in Catholic tradition between human morality (natural law) and Christian morality by grounding Christian ethics in a spirituality. Vacek argues that the perfection of love is neither self-denial nor self-fulfillment, but personal friendship. He applies a sensitive, nuanced, and probing intelligence to the human experience of love."—Lisa Sowle Cahill, professor of theology, Boston College
Edward Collins Vacek, SJ, is professor of moral theology at the Weston School of Theology.
336 pp., 6 x 9
336 pp., 6 x 9
Moral Traditions series
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