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Christians among the Virtues: Theological Conversations with Ancient and Modern Ethics Paperback – December 12, 2015
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“[T]his is perhaps Hauerwas’s most successful exposition of the assertion that, in the Church, everything is political, but politics is not everything. Friendship is the heart of the book, but, in contrast to Nussbaum, Hauerwas and Pinches display friendship as a profoundly political practice. This is a book for those who sense the sadness of life yet have been offered a particular friendship.” —Studies in Christian Ethics
“A valuable contribution, recommended for a wide range of scholars, teachers, and students of Christian theology and ethics.” —Ethics
“This is a must read for those interested in Hauerwas’ work and/or in the Christian appropriation of Aristotelian virtue ethics.” —Theological Studies
About the Author
Charles Pinches is professor of theology and religious studies at the University of Scranton in Scranton, PA. He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and is the author of several books, including A Gathering of Memories.
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As the title implies, it is a theological reflection upon ancient ethics (primarily Aristotle, the originator of ethics), and as well as modern ethics (modern writers including Alasdair MacIntyre, Martha Nussbaum, William Bennett, William Frankena, Pincoff, Bernard Williams, John Casey, and quite a few others, and perhaps not so modern writers, as Thomas Aquinas and others are also included in the discussion). This is primarily a book, as the writers declare, on "virtue ethics" (p. ix)
In general, every chapter starts off with some background (dialogue) with perhaps even a non-Christian or secular writer, and ends with thoughts and formulations leading to a conclusion about what it means to be a Christian, and the virtue(s) necessary.
This book is divided into three sections: Part 1: Theological Reflections on Aristotelian Themes, with 3 chapters (chapter 1 on Being Temporarally Happy: the definition of happiness, through rationality and ethics, chapter 2 on the virtues of happiness: that happiness requires virtues, morals, doing and being, chapter 3 on friendship, community, agape and philo love, and the necessity of friendship for virtue).
Part 2: Responses to Contemporary Revivals of Virtue (chapter 4 on the Renewal of Virtue and the Peace of Christ: other secular writers who have discussed the significance of virtue, obligation, which virtues, chapter 5 on the Fragility of Friendship: discussing human fragility, politics, friendship, and chapter 6 on Pagan Virtue and Christian Prudence: on various virtues, including anger, pride, courage, justice, and friendship, and then Christian prudence and forgiveness).
Part 3: Christian Virtues Exemplified (chapter 7 on developing hopeful virtues, from a Christian perspective, such as endurance, character, and hope; chapter 8 on obedience; chapter 9 on courage, and chapter 10 on patience).
I found this to be a particularly interesting book, as the authors are trying to describe abstract principles "virtues", as opposed to concrete examples or applications of how these would manifest. Well-grounded in Christian theology (specifically Evangelical Christian theology), they work with a number of Christians writers and theologians throughout the ages who have put quotes particularly well (John Chrysostom, Aquinas, St. Francis of Assisi, Hildegard of Bingen, and others are quoted). It is from a solid theological background and (surprisingly) good exegesis that these virtues are expounded. (For instance, it is from justification by faith in Romans 5:1-2 that the virtues of endurance, courage, and hope come, which is exactly what the following text in Romans 5:3-4 says.) This text does a really good job of integrating Christian doctrines too. As well, some practicals are discussed (e.g., forgiveness, suffering, development of virtues in a community, specifically for Christians, in the community of faith, the Church).
I also found this to be a very logically and rationally written book (not surprisingly), and the flow of thought and arguments followed extremely fluidly. Highly recommended for all Christians!