Divine Commands

Lois Malcolm

in The Oxford Handbook of Theological Ethics

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780199227228
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Divine Commands

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This article begins with a discussion of the chief biblical traditions that inform Christian theological reflection on divine commands: Moses (and the Ten Commandments), Jesus (and the double-love commands), and Paul (and his understanding of the law's functions within human existence). Next, it traces the development of the nominalist focus on divine commands within the context of earlier theological contributions (by Irenaeus, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas). It then examines how the Reformers (Martin Luther and John Calvin) appropriate — and nuance — this nominalist understanding of divine commands, and briefly discusses their influence on strains of modern and contemporary forms of voluntarist thought. This article's constructive contribution, offered by way of a critical appropriation of Karl Barth's theology of divine commands, seeks to depict a ‘theonomous’ account of divine commands — one that presupposes a Trinitarian understanding of God and the Reformers' distinctions among the ‘uses of the law’.

Keywords: Christian theological reflection; Moses; Jesus; Paul; Irenaeus; Augustine; Thomas Quinas; Reformers; Karth Barth

Article.  8586 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies ; Philosophy of Religion

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