Theological Ethics

D. Stephen Long and Stanley Hauerwas

in The Oxford Handbook of Methodist Studies

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199696116
Published online January 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

Theological Ethics

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This article seeks to develop an understanding of Methodist theological ethics by presenting three interrelated characteristics. First, it displays Wesley's understanding of the content of a good life, that is, the relation between happiness and holiness, by directing attention to what the Methodist tradition calls this life of beatitude. Such a life is often identified as ‘the religion of the heart’, but that phrase, so often used to separate theology from ethics, must be understood in the light of the Sermon on the Mount. Second, the article spells out the ecclesial presumption necessarily implied by the refusal to separate happiness and holiness. Every ethic entails a sociology; for Methodists, the sociology that makes holiness inseparable from happiness is the church: a church, moreover, that must be separated from the world so that the world might be served. Finally, the article explores why Methodists have rightly refused to turn holiness into an ideal never to be realized. It argues that Wesley's understanding of perfect love offers the means to help all Christians understand why growth is ongoing for Christians who would be holy and happy.

Keywords: Methodism; Methodists; theology; ethics; holiness; sociology; good life; happiness

Article.  5690 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Christianity ; Religious Studies

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