Self, World, and Time: An Introduction.
Self, World, and Time: An Introduction. Ethics as Theology I. By Oliver O'Donovan. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2013. Pp. 138 + xiii. $25.
O'Donovan begins his proposed three-volume work by situating his reflections within their contemporary context. On the one hand, he notes the disintegration of the discipline of theological ethics, at least within Protestant circles, citing Johannes Fischer. On the other hand, though he critiques the "over-simple knowingness about itself' of late modernity (x), he seeks to weave a consistent form for the discipline of ethics, doing so in a deliberately inductive way.
In this slim volume, the reader experiences a great scholar reflecting on his own craft. O'D. does so, bearing in mind two principles: ethicists must "enter into the lived experience of practical deliberation ... and inhabit it as residents," not as occasional guests (ix). At the same time, they must engage in an architectural enterprise that joins divergent themes together. While many of the themes O'D. develops do not blaze new trails, his careful construction and balance result in an important contribution to the field.
Echoes of O'D.'s earlier work Resurrection and Moral Order (1986) surface, but this work gives a distinct focus to the implications of Christian faith, hope, and love. O'D. eschews what he calls an "idealist" ethic, calling instead for careful appreciation of the nature of the present age and the call to discipleship in anticipation of the kingdom of God that real ethical reflection implies. It is not surprising, then, that he begins his volume with a call to "moral awareness," attentiveness to the moment as a regular discipline, but an attentiveness that remains always open to God's gift in Christ by which "our agency is summoned to exist" (132).
Throughout the book one finds a clear desire to balance theological and philosophical ethics, and a recurring call to the hard thought that alone gives rise to appropriate normativity. For the scope of the book's engagement with modern philosophical and theological ethical thought alone, one would be well advised to read it.
Ronald A. Mercier, S.J.
Saint Louis University
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|Title Annotation:||Shorter Notices|
|Author:||Mercier, Ronald A.|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2014|
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