Moral Theology

Duane Stephen Long

in The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780199245765
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Moral Theology

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This article explores the difference between moral theology and Christian ethics. The main difference is that moral theology recognizes Christian dogma as essential to the moral life, while Christian ethics sees dogma as less important for its task. Moral theology assumes an explicit doctrinal context. Its basic structure draws on Aquinas's work, since he established a tradition of setting the moral life within the context of Christian doctrine, thus both confirming and perpetuating the patristic tradition that presented morality according to specific Christian teachings. He placed the Christian life within an overarching systematic theology focused on happiness understood as the human creature seeing the vision of God and thus being restored into God's image. To understand the tradition of moral theology, the discussion examines this basic theological structure and contrasts moral theology with the more modern theological discipline of Christian ethics.

Keywords: moral theology; Christian ethics; Christian dogma; Catholic theology; Aquinas; systematic theology

Article.  9305 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Philosophy of Religion

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