The Christian Moral Life: Faithful Discipleship for a Global Society

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More About This Textbook


This new introduction to moral theology is focused on Christ, rooted in the Scriptures, and connected to the sacramental and spiritual life. It views the Christian moral life as one of faithful discipleship imbued with Christian virtues. To make the discussion accessible to students, each of the ten chapters includes a conclusion, a list of key points, questions for reflection, and suggestions for further reading.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570758812
  • Publisher: Orbis Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents



1 The Call of Discipleship, "Come, Follow Me" (Mark 1:17) 1

Santiago's Calling 2

Biblical Perspectives 4

The Hebrew Story 4

The Call to Follow Jesus 6

Faithful Discipleship 7

Called to Community 9

A Framework for the Moral Life 11

Theological and Anthropological Underpinnings 11

The Gift-Call-Response Dynamic of the Moral Life 13

Ambiguous Dimension of the Call 13

Responding to the Gift-Call 15

The Call of the Poor 17

A Community of Disciples 18

Conclusion 20

Key Points 21

Questions for Reflection 21

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 22

2 The Christian Moral Life and Learning to See, "Master, I Want to See" (Mark 10:51) 23

Human Beings as Masters of Illusion 25

The Dangerous Seductions of Fantasy 26

Obstacles to Correct Vision 27

Fantasy and Fear 28

The Fantasy of Consumerism 30

Buddhism and Learning to See 32

From Murdoch and Buddha to Jesus 34

The Christian Moral Life and Learning How to See 36

Sacred Stories 37

Learning to See 38

Parables---Being Shocked into New Ways of Seeing 39

Re-imagining Jesus 47

Conclusion 49

Key Points 50

Questions for Reflection 50

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 51

3 The Treasure We Seek---The Reign of God and the Moral Life, "The Kingdom of God Is at Hand" (Mark 1:15) 52

Essential Characteristics of God's Reign 54

God's Reign Has Arrived 54

God's Reign Is Gift and Task 56

A Reign of Justice and Inclusiveness 58

The Eschatological Reign of God 60

The Sermon on the Mount 61

The Beatitudes: Blessings for Righteousness 62

Guidance for Righteous Living 63

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: An Example of Righteous Living 65

The Virtue of Hope 66

Analogical and Dialectical Imaginations 69

Offering Hospitality to the Stranger 71

Conclusion 72

Key Points 73

Questions for Reflection 73

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 74

4 Starting Over Again and Again: Sin and Conversion in the Christian Life, "Repent, and Believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15) 75

Sin 77

How Should We Talk about Sin? 79

Some Initial Conclusions about Sin 81

Categories of Sin 87

Original Sin 92

Conversion 93

Conversion---What Does It Mean? 94

Conversion---Why Does It Happen? 96

Some Initial Conclusions about Conversion 98

Faith 101

What Does It Mean to Say, "I Believe"? 102

Faith in the Christian Life 103

Conclusion 106

Key Points 107

Questions for Reflection 107

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 107

5 The Virtues---How to Be Good at Being Human, "Make Every Effort to Supplement Your Faith with Virtue" (2 Peter 1:5) 109

Goodness, Happiness, and the Virtues 110

The Connection between Happiness, Goodness, and the Virtues 111

Virtues 115

Why Do We Need the Virtues? 118

How We Acquire the Virtues 120

The Cardinal Virtues 124

Virtues in the Other Traditions 135

Virtues in the Christian Life 137

Theological Virtues 138

Infused Moral Virtues 140

Jesus and the Christian Moral Life 141

Conclusion 142

Key Points 143

Questions for Reflection 143

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 143

6 Conscience---Exploring a Gift Too Precious to Lose, "Your Conscience Bears Witness" (Romans 2:15) 145

What It Means to Have a Conscience 148

The Bible and Conscience 148

Conscience in the Theology of Thomas Aquinas 151

Contemporary Accounts of Conscience 153

What Does This Tell Us about Conscience? 155

What Shapes Our Conscience---For Better or Worse 157

How Relationships and Communities Shape Our Conscience 158

How Our Social and Cultural Contexts Shape Our Conscience 159

The Development and Formation of Conscience 163

Five Steps to Consider 164

The Role of Prayer in the Formation of Conscience 166

The Role of the Church in the Formation of Conscience 168

Fostering Healthy Moral Communities 172

Being of One Mind and Heart with Christ 174

Conclusion 176

Key Points 177

Questions for Reflection 177

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 177

7 Love---The Only True Path to Life, "Whoever Does Not Love Remains in Death" (1 John 3:14) 179

Why the Human Vocation Is a Vocation to Love 181

Images of a God Who Is Love 181

We're Neighbors Whether We Like It or Not! 182

Putting Others at the Center of Our Lives 184

Are We Called to Love Ourselves? 185

How Love Works 186

What Are We Doing When We Love? 186

What Does Loving Well Require? 189

Different Kinds of Love 194

Agape 195

Eros 197

Friendship 198

Extending the Circle of Love 200

The Zakat 201

Love for All of God's Creation 202

Conclusion 204

Key Points 205

Questions for Reflection 205

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 205

8 The Paschal Mystery and the Moral Life, "If We Die with Christ, We Live with Him" (Romans 6:8) 206

The Paschal Mystery in the New Testament 207

Sacrifice as an Act of Love Freely Offered 209

A Story of Redemptive Love 210

The Problem of Servitude 211

Patient Endurance 213

Love and Suffering 214

The Cross of Compassion 216

Compassion in Buddhism 217

The Problem of Apathy 219

Transformative Love of the Resurrection 221

Conclusion 224

Key Points 224

Questions for Reflection 225

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 225

9 The Spirit and Moral Discernment, "Do Not Quench the Spirit" (1 Thessalonians 5:19) 226

Manifestations of the Spirit in the Bible 228

The Spirit and Moral Discernment 229

Ethical Models 230

The Gifts of the Spirit 233

Connatural Knowledge 233

The Gifts of Wisdom 235

Wisdom as Tasting Knowledge in Sufism 235

The Law of the Spirit 237

Community and Moral Discernment 239

Prayer and Moral Discernment 241

Conclusion 244

Key Points 244

Questions for Reflection 245

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 245

10 The Mission of Public Discipleship, "Go and Make Disciples of All Nations" (Matthew 28:16-20) 246

Tension and Ambivalence 247

Biblical Perspectives 247

Theological Perspectives 248

The Value of Public Life for Discipleship 251

The Dichotomy between Private and Public Life 253

A Public Church 254

A Vision of the Good Life 255

Virtue of Solidarity 257

Love and Justice 258

The Meaning of Justice 259

Participation and Collaboration 260

Conclusion 261

Key Points 264

Questions for Reflection 264

Suggestions for Further Reading and Study 264

Notes 265

Bibliography 287

Index 299

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