Love and Christian Ethics

Tradition, Theory, and Society

Frederick V. Simmons, Editor
With Brian C. Sorrells

"Thoughtful essays that invite readers to rethink some fairly settled positions in Christian love ethics . . . The volume is certainly a useful stimulant to thinking about Christian love and deserves attention."
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At the heart of Christian ethics is the biblical commandment to love God and to love one's neighbor as oneself. But what is the meaning of love? Scholars have wrestled with this question since the recording of the Christian gospels, and in recent decades teachers and students of Christian ethics have engaged in vigorous debates about appropriate interpretations and implications of this critical norm.

In Love and Christian Ethics, nearly two dozen leading experts analyze and assess the meaning of love from a wide range of perspectives. Chapters are organized into three areas: influential sources and exponents of Western Christian thought about the ethical significance of love, perennial theoretical questions attending that consideration, and the implications of Christian love for important social realities. Contributors bring a richness of thought and experience to deliver unprecedentedly broad and rigorous analysis of this central tenet of Christian ethics and faith. William Werpehowski provides an afterword on future trajectories for this research. Love and Christian Ethics is sure to become a benchmark resource in the field.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A Conjunctive Approach to Christian Love
Frederick V. Simmons

Part I: Tradition
1. Interpreting the Love Commands in Social Context: Deuteronomy and Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount
Thomas W. Ogletree
2. Conceptions of Love, Greek and Christian
Terence Irwin
3. “Repellent Text”: The Transition from Wisdom to Ethics in Augustine’s Confessions 10
Oliver O’Donovan
4. The Desire for Happiness and the Virtues of the Will: Resolving a Paradox in Aquinas’s Thought
Jean Porter
5. Kant on Practical and Pathological Love
John Hare
6. Kierkegaard and Kant on the "Duty to Love”
M. Jamie Ferreira

Part II: Theory
7. The Problematic Love for God: “Love the Lord, All You Saints” (Psalm 31:23)
Edward Collins Vacek
8. Empathy, Compassion, and Love of Neighbor
John P. Reeder Jr.
9. Forgiveness in the Service of Love
Margaret A. Farley
10. Agape as Self-Sacrifice: The Internalist View
Edmund N. Santurri
11. Eudaimonism and Christian Love
Frederick V. Simmons
12. Christian Love as Friendship: Engaging the Thomistic Tradition
Stephen J. Pope
13. Evolution, Agape, and the Image of God: A Reply to Various Naturalists
Timothy P. Jackson

Part III: Society
14. Love, Justice, and Law: The Strange Case of Watts v. Watts
M. Cathleen Kaveny
15. Global Health Justice: Love as Transformative Political Action
Lisa Sowle Cahill
16. Love in the Vocation of Christian Sexual Ethics: A Theologico-Political Meditation
Mark D. Jordan
17. Meditations on Love and Violence
Emilie M. Townes
18. Loving Nature: Christian Environmental Ethics
Holmes Rolston III
19. The Double Love Command and the Ethics of Religious Pluarlism
Eric Gregory
20. Neighbor Love in the Jewish Tradition
Ronald M. Green
21. Neighbor Love in Muslim Discourse
John Kelsay

William Werpehowski


"will undoubtedly become a reference for anyone in North America who wants to engage in dialogue with significant scholars in the field of Christian ethics."—Touchstone

"Thoughtful essays that invite readers to rethink some fairly settled positions in Christian love ethics . . . The volume is certainly a useful stimulant to thinking about Christian love and deserves attention."—Studies in Christian Ethics

"It not only lives up to its ambitions but also makes such an immediate contribution to the field that it might serve as the standard text on this topic for the foreseeable future. . . . The volume will be a welcome addition to anyone's shelf."—Political Theology

"Simmons and Sorrells have given us a superb collection in Christian theology and ethics. Love and Christian Ethics includes contributions by many of today’s leading thinkers, and the essays are intelligently organized from reflections on Biblical texts to contemporary interreligious dialogues. This is a landmark volume for students and scholars that will be a standard reference for years to come."—Robin W. Lovin, Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics Emeritus, Southern Methodist University, Center of Theological Inquiry

"Amidst the wealth of reflection on Christian love spawned by Anders Nygren’s provocative Agape and Eros, Gene Outka’s Agape still stands out for its conceptual rigor and insight. Love and Christian Ethics, in weaving together new studies on love by a highly distinguished set of authors, ably furthers, and thereby honors, Outka’s legacy."—Jennifer A. Herdt, Yale University Divinity School


Lisa Sowle Cahill Margaret A. Farley M. Jamie Ferreira Ronald M. Green Eric Gregory John Hare Terence Irwin Timothy P. Jackson Mark D. Jordan M. Cathleen Kaveny John Kelsay Oliver O’Donovan Thomas W. Ogletree Stephen J. Pope Jean Porter John P. Reeder Jr. Holmes Rolston III Edmund N. Santurri Frederick V. Simmons Emilie M. Townes Edward Collins Vacek William Werpehowski

Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Frederick V. Simmons is the J. Houston Witherspoon Fellow in Theology and the Natural Sciences at the Center of Theological Inquiry. Previously an assistant professor of ethics at Yale Divinity School, he has also taught at Amherst College, La Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, and La Universidad Politécnica Salesiana.

Brian C. Sorrells has taught courses on Christian ethics, world religions, human rights, biomedical ethics, and sexual ethics at Yale Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, Brown University, and Amherst College.

408 pp., 7 x 10

ISBN: 978-1-62616-366-9
Dec 2016

408 pp., 7 x 10

ISBN: 978-1-62616-367-6
Dec 2016

408 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-62616-368-3
Dec 2016

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