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Defending Probabilism Cover

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Defending Probabilism

The Moral Theology of Juan Caramuel

Through the centuries, at the heart of Catholic moral theology is a fundamental question: How do we behave responsibly in the face of moral uncertainty? Attempts to resolve problems of everyday life led to the growth of a variety of moral systems, one of which emerged in the early 17th century and was known as "probabilism." This method of solving difficult moral cases allowed the believer to rely upon a view that was judged defensible in terms of its arguments or the authorities behind it, even if the opposite opinion was supported by stronger arguments or more authorities. The theologian Juan Caramuel, a Spanish Cistercian monk whom Alphonso Liguori famously characterized as "the prince of laxists," has been regarded as one of the more extreme—and notorious—proponents of probabilism. As the only full-length English study of Caramuel's theological method, Defending Probabilism seeks to reappraise Caramuel's legacy, claiming that his model of moral thinking, if better understood, can actually be of help to the Church today. Considered one of the most erudite theologians of his age, a scientist and scholar who published works on everything from astronomy and architecture to printing and Gregorian chant, Caramuel strove throughout his life to understand probabilism's theological and philosophical foundations as part of his broader analysis of the nature of human knowledge. In applying Caramuel's legacy to our own time, Defending Probabilism calls for a reconsideration of the value of provisional moral knowledge. Fleming's study shows that history matters, and that to attain any position on moral certitude is a difficult and painstaking process.

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Deus providebit

Calvin, Schleiermacher, and Barth on the Providence of God

by Sung-Sup Kim

This dissertation stages an intervention in Reformed readings of the doctrine of providence, particularly around Barth’s critical interpretation of the tradition stemming from Calvin and Schleiermacher, and provides a critical and constructive assessment of Barth’s contribution. The author argues that while Barth advances the discussion in key ways, his reading of Calvin in particular is significantly hampered by his running challenge to Schleiermacher.

Following an assessment of Barth’s critique of the Reformed position, the author provides an extensive reading of Calvin’s writings, demonstrating that Calvin is far more concerned with the Christological basis and Christian meaning of providence than Barth’s theology recognizes; as well, Schleiermacher’s theological construction problematizes aspects of Barth’s reading.

The upshot of this work is that each of these theologians provide critical safeguards and soundings that need to be heard in concert and mutual correction for a robust doctrine of divine providence.

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The Development of Moral Theology

Five Strands

Charles E. Curran

Charles Curran in his newest book The Development of Moral Theology: Five Strands, brings a unique historical and critical analysis to the five strands that differentiate Catholic moral theology from other approaches to Christian ethics -- sin and the manuals of moral theology, the teaching of Thomas Aquinas and later Thomists, natural law, the role of authoritative church teaching in moral areas, and Vatican II. Significant changes have occurred over the course of these historical developments. In addition, pluralism and diversity exist even today, as illustrated, for example, in the theory of natural law proposed by Cardinal Ratzinger.

In light of these realities, Curran proposes his understanding of how the strands should influence moral theology today. A concluding chapter highlights the need for a truly theological approach and calls for a significant change in the way that the papal teaching office functions today and its understanding of natural law.

In a work useful to anyone who studies Catholic moral theology, The Development of Moral Theology underscores, in the light of the historical development of these strands, the importance of a truly theological and critical approach to moral theology that has significant ramifications for the life of the Catholic church.

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Deviant Calvinism

Broadening Reformed Theology

by Oliver D. Crisp

Deviant Calvinism seeks to show that the Reformed tradition is much broader and more variegated than is often thought. Crisp’s work focuses on a cluster of theological issues concerning the scope of salvation and shows that there are important ways in which current theological discussion of these topics can be usefully resourced by attention to theologians of the past.

The scope of atonement, in particular, is once again a hot topic in current evangelical theology. This volume addresses that issue via discussion of eternal justification, whether Calvinists can be free-will libertarians (like Arminian theologians); whether the Reformed should be universalists, and if they are not, why not; whether Reformed theology is consistent with a universal atonement; and whether the hypothetical universalism of some Calvinists is actually as eccentric and strange a doctrine as is sometimes thought. This book contributes to theological retrieval within the Reformed theology, and establishes a wider path to thinking Calvinism differently.

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The Devil's Whore

Reason and Philosophy in the Lutheran Tradition

edited by Jennifer Hockenbery Dragseth

Martin Luther's disdain for philosophy is well known, and the Lutheran theological tradition has been wary of its constructs. Yet the tradition also includes philosophical giants-from Melanchthon to Schleiermacher to Kierkegaard and even Nietzsche. This volume assumes that such skepticism about reason actually opened up new ways of doing and seeing philosophy.

Philosophers, theologians, and historians assess the paradox and achievements of philosophy in the Lutheran vein. In their important exploration in the history of ideas, they not only probe the roots and branches of Luther's own ambivalence toward philosophy, they also draw illuminating connections between his revolutionary theology and the development of European continental philosophy.

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Dialectical Theology and Jacques Ellul

An Introductory Exposition

by Jacob E. Van Vleet

In Dialectical Theology and Jacques Ellul, Jacob E. Van Vleet argues that the work of Jacques Ellul is frequently—and deleteriously—misread on account of inattention to the theological underpinning that governs Ellul’s thought. In a penetrating analysis, the first of its kind, Van Vleet provides a substantive account of the theological structure of Ellul’s work and demonstrates the determinative role that theology, especially dialectical theology, plays in a proper understanding of Ellul.

Van Vleet offers a major introduction to Ellul’s thought, his contribution to theology and philosophy, and how his philosophy of technology is both theologically informed and culturally relevant. As well, this work situates Ellul’s theological and philosophical thought within an important genetic context, from Kierkegaard to the dialectical theologians of the twentieth century.

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Dialogues (The Fathers of the Church, Volume 39)

Saint Gregory the Great

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Disability, Providence, and Ethics

Bridging Gaps, Transforming Lives

by Hans S. Reinders

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