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Sources of Christian Ethics [Paperback]

Op Pinckaers , Servais Pinckaers Op
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 July 1995
First published in French in 1985, this work has been recognised by scholars worldwide as one of the most important books in the field of moral theology. Here Servais Pinckaers, writing in a tone that is reconciliatory rather than polemical, returns Christians ethics to it's sources: the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. He discusses the complementary domains of morality and the behavioural and natural sciences, and traces the scriptural themes - particularly in the Sermon on the Mount and the writings of St. Paul - that most influence moral instruction. The unique feature of Pinckaer's contemporary Thomistic view it its emphasis on the virtues, gifts, and evangelical Beatitudes as the heart of the Christian moral life. His approach to morality results in what he calls the freedom for excellence, a notion of freedom that he contrasts with the nominalist concept of the freedom of indifference, which has dominated moral theology since the fourteenth century. This volume will serve the needs of both beginning and advanced students in seminary and university courses in moral theology and ethics. It will also provide the background and perspective needed ot achieve a fuller understanding of the moral teaching of the Catechism and of the encyclical Veritatis splendor. Servais Pinckaers, O.P., is professor of moral theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He is author of numerous books in moral moral theology, including most recently L'Evangile at la Morale (1989) and La Morale Catholique (1991).

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Product details

  • Paperback: 516 pages
  • Publisher: Continnuum-3PL; 3Rev Ed edition (1 July 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567292878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567292872
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 900,552 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent overview 12 May 2010
By Noddy
Having been confused for years by all the different currents in catholic moral theology, this book finally provided the cure. Tracing the development of christian ethics from its pauline and gospel roots, through the patristic, thomist, nominalist (Ockham and the franciscans)periods, jesuit casuistry, up to the present, it shows how the pre-Vatican catholic church came by its legalism in moral matters. It does a masterly job of showing how all the distorting influences on the original christian inspiration accumulated to result in a religion of do's and don'ts, sins and conscience, without anyone really noticing what was happening. Instead, Pinckaers argues, catholic moral theology, as understood up to the 14th century, and as it is now being rediscovered, is really more of a spirituality of happiness than a "morality" - very profound, human and enriching, and a far cry from what i thought moral theology was all about (identifying what is the right thing to do in particular circumstances for a religious believer).

Pinckaers also goes to some lengths to contrast two concepts of freedom - the "freedom of indifference" of being able to choose whatever we want without any constraint (what corresponds to our modern notion of freedom) compared to the "freedom of excellence": the contrast between these two notions of freedoms goes a long way to explaining why we currently operate on an understanding of morality as a list of do's and don't.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morality as Freedom for Excellence 27 July 2001
By "gomerkid" - Published on
Have you ever been to a class on Morality or Ethics at a Church or School, and you were basically told a bunch of "do's and don'ts?" Fr. Pinckaers finally revealed to me why so many leave the Church and why so many are bored with Morality. He traces for us a brief history of Ethics and Morality and shows how people like William of Ockham and Immanuel Kant destroyed morality by focusing on the Commandments of God instead of the Virtues of God. God is now viewed in modern society as a mere law giver, arbitrary and exacting; whereas in ancient and medival times, climaxing with St. Thomas Aquinas, God was viewed as Father and Laws were regarded as Virtue builders loving instructions to His Children. This text is being used at one of the greatest universities in America, Fransican University of Steubenville in Ohio, in several classes. This is just to attest to its truth, beauty and goodness, which i discovered when reading it as a hobby. I'm 19 years old, i was 18 whenever i purchased it, and i can honestly say that this book will open your eyes to the truth, and you will love every minute of it. Do's and Don't melt away and become What More can i do for you Lord? Get this book now for a more Scriptural, more Scholastic, more Thomistic, more Catholic, more real view of Morality and Ethics, centered around the Sermon on the Mount.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Renewal of Christian Ethics 21 Dec 2004
By Ryan P. Hilderbrand - Published on
Fr. Pinckaers' book is a wonderful overview of Christian ethics, calling for a renewal in the methodology of moral theologians. I've found it to be good, though laborious, spiritual reading. He gives an overview of Christian ethics, followed by a history of the study of moral theology from the age of the Patristics. He also covers Ockham's nominalism and how it destroyed the traditional Christian attitude towards morality. Finally, he studies the virtues, freedom and natural law in the tradition of the Fathers and St. Thomas Aquinas. Not leisure reading, but good foundational reading for those who wish to study theology.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needed contribution to Post Vatican II Moral Theology 2 Mar 2005
By Ryan R. Grant - Published on
Fr. Pinckaers book presents a lifetime of research into Catholic Moral Theology from the Patristic era to the present, especially focusing on the atmospher after Trent, and the problems posed by the Protestant Reformation, and Modern Philosophy.

Pinckaers shows us that many manuals of moral theology, while presenting orthodox doctrine, present the wrong reasons for that doctrine. Many books while claiming to follow St. Thomas and his brilliant Virtue Theory, actually are closer to Kant imperative: that virtue is following the Law for the Law's own sake, rather than for the sake of virtue.

As a result many books rely soley on the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) rather than look at them as part of a whole, in light of the Sermon on the Mount.

Pinckaers makes a terrific contribution to Catholic Moral Theology, and examines in great detail the works of Scripture, St. Paul, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the protestant reformers Luther and Calvin. The book is also not filled with overly technical language. It is written in such a way that an athiest who has never heard an iota about Catholic or Protestant Moral Theology could pick up the book and understand it. Pinckaers is the most emminent moral theologian of our day.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Approach to the Moral Life 18 Aug 2010
By Conor B. Dugan - Published on
It has been 10 years since I read this book, but I remember being blown away by Fr. Pinckaer's approach. I was reading this in juxtaposition to some very legalistic approaches to ethics and Fr. Pinckaer's writing was fresh, free, and liberating. As someone else put in a review, Pinckaer's approach is one of freedom for excellence. The Beatitudes are the place he starts his reflection on the moral life of the Christian. This book is beautiful and an indispensable read for those who want to be familiar with the renewal of Christian moral theology.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Christian philosophical/theological excellence! 26 Sep 2004
By J. Howell - Published on
I must concurr with another reviewer that this book is truly excellent in explaining authentic Christian ethics. I am 29 years old and a 2003 graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio) and can attest to the splendor of this wonderful presentation. If ethics and morality even slightly interest you, then buy this book!!
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