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Being Good: Christian Virtues for Everyday Life Paperback – December 20, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael W. Austin is associate professor of philosophy at Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond, Kentucky.

R. Douglas Geivett is philosophy of religion and ethics professor at Biola University, La Mirada, California.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (December 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802865658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802865656
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #365,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Ray A. on June 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is ironic that a book about being good should have to justify itself to its Christian audience. Yet this is exactly what the editors of this collection of essays on the virtues feel compelled to do in their introduction. That’s because “being good” and “virtue” don’t resonate with large segments of the church. Many of its leaders are actually suspicious of the terms. They raise the specter of ethics, and, goes the standard argument, “Christianity is not about ethics; rather, it is about a relationship with Christ.”

To this the editors reply that they while they “applaud any resistance to reducing Christianity to an ethical system,” they are concerned that Christian antipathy toward ethics “is itself unchristian.” For, they insist, though “Christianity is not merely about ethics . . . it does essentially include ethics,” by which they mean of course virtue ethics. One would think that should be obvious, given that virtue ethics is about how people ought to live their lives. Surely the Christian faith and a relationship with Christ should have a significant bearing on that. “The Christian, as a follower of Jesus, should seek to embody the moral and intellectual virtues of Jesus Christ, our Lord,” and model his or her life on him.

Such an understanding of spiritual formation and the Christian life arouses not only antipathy but sometimes outright rejection. Take the pastor of a large urban church with an educated and cultured congregation, someone who in addition is a best-selling author and has gained a reputation for an intelligent and reasoned approach to faith. He declares point blank in his latest book that an emphasis on ethics is incompatible with the gospel. Focusing on being good distracts people from recognizing their sin and thereby experiencing God’s grace.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stu2 on November 3, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book discusses 11 Christian virtues, explaining their basis in the Christian faith, their importance for achieving the goal of the Christianity life and how to cultivate some of them in your character.

Most of the virtues are discussed with reference to the classical moral philosophy of Aristotle, which has had a foundational influence on western moral thought. On this understanding, the possession and expression of certain moral virtues are essential to a good, flourishing, and abundant human life.

The Christian development of this approach is that “virtues are conducive to flourishing and the abundant life because God designed us to function best when possessing and exemplifying the virtues.” They are displayed in the lives of those who have abundant life and live up to the God’s intention for human life. Virtues reflect the character of God. For centuries, Christians have understood moral formation as the imitation of Christ (Eph. 5:1). Learning to become virtuous involves, among other things, trying to become more Christ-like in our character. The apostle Paul describes this process as "taking off' our old sinful practices - the vices - and "clothing" ourselves with the virtues (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:5-14).

Virtues also enable living in harmony with each other and so promote a Christian society and rewarding community life. Virtues are essential for the realisation of the Christian vision of society because we were designed to function at our best as virtuous creatures.
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