Does talking about theological ethics or moral theology vaporise Christian ethics?


In his unique The Making of Moral Theology Jack Mahoney argued that, arising in the Early Modern period a rules-based approach to Christian ethics resulted in an unfortunate loss of spirituality and spiritual theology from (in particular) the Catholic Church’s moral theology. To this it might be added that Dogmatic theological principles, when applied directly to the discipline of Ethics as in the Neo-Orthodox rediscovery of the priority of dogmatics over ethics, have lost sight of spiritual theology as a reflection on spirituality as having a mediating and contextualising, hence concretising function for moral theology. By considering both earlier and recent attempts to work Ethics as Theology (McLendon, Hauerwas, O’Donovan, Cessario), and in the light of principles of church renewal, I will attempt to make suggestions both to supplement and to bring out the best of these divergent approaches. Christian Ethics can be theological, spiritual, moral and concrete!


Prof. Mark W. Elliott
Professor of Historical and Biblical Theology
School of Divinity, University of St Andrews, UK

Mark was born in Glasgow in 1965. Educated at The Glasgow Academy, a law degree at Oxford University, a Bachelor of Divinity at Aberdeen then a PhD at Cambridge, he originally thought of the pastoral ministry but was drawn away after getting his first full-time academic job at Nottingham University. He then moved to Liverpool Hope University College before coming to rest at St Andrews in 2003.  There he as been Head of School but is now finding a bit more time to think, read and write. He works on the history of theology and of biblical exegesis.  His last book was Providence Perceived (De Gruyter, 2015) and his next one on a Biblical Theology of Providence should appear with Baker in late 2018.