Finding and Seeking (Ethics as Theology #2)

Finding and Seeking (Ethics as Theology #2)❴KINDLE❵ ❆ Finding and Seeking (Ethics as Theology #2) Author Oliver O'Donovan – This is the second of three volumes in Oliver O'Donovan's masterful Ethics as Theology project In his first volume Self World and Time O'Donovan discusses Christian ethics as an intellectual disciplin This is the second of three volumes in Oliver O'Donovan's masterful Ethics as Theology project In his first volume Self World and Time O'Donovan discusses Christian ethics as an intellectual discipline in relation to the humanities especially philosophy theology and behavioral Finding and PDF/EPUB or studies and in relation to the Christian gospelIn Finding and Seeking O'Donovan traces the logic of moral thought from self awareness to decision through the virtues of faith hope and love Blending biblical historico theological and contemporary ideas in its comprehensive survey this second volume continues O'Donovan's splendid study in ethics as theology and adds significantly to his previous theoretical reflection on Christian ethics.

Oliver ODonovan FBA FRSE born is a scholar known for his work in the field of Christian ethics He has also made contributions to political theology both contemporary and historical.

Finding and Seeking PDF ½ Finding and  PDF/EPUB or
  • Paperback
  • 264 pages
  • Finding and Seeking (Ethics as Theology #2)
  • Oliver O'Donovan
  • English
  • 13 August 2014
  • 9780802871879

10 thoughts on “Finding and Seeking (Ethics as Theology #2)

  1. Thomas says:

    Originally posted here Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead John Ames the elderly Congregationalist pastor who narrates the book has a conversation about sin and the mystery of salvation this is the sort of thing that happens in Marilynne Robinson novels with Jack Boughton his namesake Jack is the recently returned the prodigal son of Ames’ best friend back in town to upset the order of thingsThere was an uneasy silence so I remarked that he might find Karl Barth a help just for the sake of conversationHe said “is that what you do when some tormented soul arrives on your doorstep at midnight Recommend Karl Barth”I said “ It depends on the case” which it does I have found Barth’s work to be full of comfort But in fact I don’t recall ever recommending him to any tormented soul but my ownIt’s a funny bitter conversation one in which the thing under discussion sin which can reveal itself in the tendency of human beings to harm rather than comfort one another whatever their intentions is on full display Barth tends to not be my own first choice during stormy nights of the soul that would be Bonhoeffer but I also read plenty of theology for comfort There are risks with this sort of thing and there are theologians eager to tell you about all the dangers of approaching theology as therapy I admit that the barely baptized self help of Joel Osteen et al looms on the horizon with its menacing thousand watt smile But it would be strange if moments of comfort were never a part of the experience of reading and studying theology Some theologians who most passionately protest a therapeutic moment in theology often champion a theology so abstract and distant from lived experience that it forgets that it is human beings poor and needy heartsick fast fading as a shadow at evening Psalm 109 who are trying to say something about God While we cannot make humanity the center of our theology; we cannot erase our humanness either Sometimes theology is born out of the moment when we are “weary with crying out” our throats parched waiting for God’s arrival Psalm 69I’m thinking about all this after I finished Oliver O’Donovan’s latest book Finding and Seeking It is the second book in a planned trilogy and considers “ethics as theology” a finding and seeking in the Spirit of how to live a responsible life in response to God in the world he has created that’s how I’d try and summarize it at least but O’Donovan is notoriously difficult to summarize I found Finding and Seeking to be something of a comfort even as it challenged convicted and confused at points And at one level the comfort I found in its pages should not be a surprise while it is a work of reflection on the structure of ethics rather than straightforward guidance on particular issues it is reflection ordered to the practical realities of life It is theology that asks to be lived Yet at another level if you crack open its pages you may find the adjective “comforting” does not apply for you O’Donovan is something of an acuired taste his arguments are often dense idiosyncratic difficult A bit like Ames I’m not sure I can recommend his work to anyone’s tormented soul but my ownBut for me it is comforting all the same I think part of what I appreciate about O’Donovan is that he is a map maker; he provides an account of where things are in the world and where we are in relation to them I was pleased to discover this matches his own self description of his work In general my thought has a mapmaking character situating and organising features of the conceptual landscape This has troubled those critics who distrust 'architectonic' ambitions For me relations between things are a way of blowing open the uestions raised by the things themselves He does not supply many concrete answers to particular uestions and dilemmas; it is that he provides frameworks within which to consider the uestions we encounter This sort of map making leaves readers with plenty of work to do in terms of actually embarking on their own journey but it also provides a certain flexibility as they try to find a particular path forward in their circumstances Maps are tricky things of course They may reach their edges before you would like and leave unmarked spaces that still need exploring and description or the mapmaker may have misjudged some profile in his survey so that the map does not match the terrain as it should I also know that I can spend too much time studying maps and not enough time out on the actual journey But I at least find myself freuently lost and confused in life unsure of where to step of where I am of how the deepest things are related and so I like maps Or truthfully I need them and am always surprised and sometimes faintly jealous that some people seem to trundle along without ever asking for directions or noticing that the landscape we are traversing is so strange and difficultO’Donovan covers a number of different topics in the course of his map making in Finding and Seeking as he traces the shape of Christian ethics via the virtues of faith love and hope 1 Cor 1313 O’Donovan seldom repeats or summarizes his ideas in his prose; for a map maker he doesn't always provide all the sign posts to his own argument one might hope for This is part of what makes reading him a challenge and also makes him difficult to summarize as already mentioned so it is tempting to just highlight a few pieces of wisdom picked from the book's pages This doesn't do justice to the overall structure of the book as O'Donovan walks through ethics considered in light of faith love and hope and the characteristic sins doubt folly anxiety that are their shadow but I'm not sure I can manage that sort of structured description in this already meandering blog post You will have to take a look for yourself but perhaps I can give you a bit of a taste I've uoted at length below because it gives a better sense of O'Donovan's prose and because I'm not entirely sure how to break down some of these paragraphs in a way that actually captures what O'Donovan does his work does not lend itself to the Hauerwas ian one linerFor example the following notes on the possibility of finding wisdomThe call of wisdom is an existential condition not an episode What sense then can be made of the blessing pronounced Prov 313 on one who finds wisdom To find is to attain a decisive purchase to achieve a position where it is at one's disposal There is a point of arrival to be looked forward to a point of purchase on the world's order If Wisdom always presents herself on the horizon of possibility our arrivals cannot be final but we should not make the mistake of skeptics in every age supposing that if we cannot know with finality we cannot know at all That would be to impose an abstract ideal as a condition of our knowledge a condition irrelevant to our temporal situation making the knowledge actually available to us disappear Knowledge is offered us knowledge suited to our pilgrim condition The knowledge found on the way of pilgrimage is neither ignorance nor speculation It is valid within its own conditions makes real contact with reality allows us to attend to what is of ultimate and penultimate importanceConsider O'Donovan's definition of ideology as a form of truth comprehended within the practical demands of the public order closing off inuiry in the interests of stable harmony transgressing the limited capacity of any political order to determine wisdom Given my own appreciation for conceptual maps mentioned above O'Donovan notes the following cautionIt is the world we are given to know and love not a representation of the world Our imaginative representations are not the realities If allowed to reality will correct and renew our imaginations What we have to guard against is a representation entrenched in our minds a subjective object that stands between ourselves and reality blocking the view Meaning must have a perceptual and uestion generating character The search for connections is an open search and theoretical positions are subject to the censure of realityOr consider the wise way O'Donovan introduces a discussion of anxiety and hopeThe third elementary form of possible sin is that of anxiety sin in respect of time a failure to allow the promise of God's good future to illuminate time given us now for action Anxiety is a passion a species of fear Fear at its most general extends to all futures and there to everything that will or may transpire or may be anticipated as transpiring within and beyond the scope of our capacity to act but anxiety is the fear we experience specifically in the face of action and its perilous opportunities It is not to be denied its useful function in focusing our deliberations upon a purpose An anxiety free existence could mean only that we were inattentive to the peril of opportunity either inertly forgetful of our agency or failing to appreciate how our fate must hang on it We are summoned to display confidence but confidence must be won by deliberation out of anxiety; we are not endowed with it as a birthright Passions have their proper place in practical reason fear and anxiety among them But passions are not be indulged in They are the emotional springboards which we must press down upon if they are to launch us into action So when Jesus declares Do not be anxious Matt 631 he means Cease to be anxious It is a call to set the unknown future of life and action in the light of God's promise That is to say it is a call to hope Anxiety prepares us for our moment of response when the Spirit repeats this call to us ordering us as Jesus ordered Peter to step out of the boat of our anxiety and to walk the wavesOr in a concrete vein here is his description of the challenge to ethical reflection posed by our contemporary media environmentIf “new every morning” is the tempo of divine grace and the tempo of personal responsibilities it is because morning is a time when one can look back intelligently and look forward hopefully It is the tempo of practical reason The media’s “new every morning” uickly becoming “new every moment” is one may dare to say in flat contradiction to that daily offer of grace It serves rather to fix our perception upon the momentary now preventing retrospection discouraging deliberation holding us spell bound in a suppositious world of the present which like hell itself has lost its future and its pastO’Donovan ends his book discussing discernment that point when we try and figure out what is to be done next This search to discern the calling of God in my particular life in my particular circumstances leads to a search for a path a search for a congruence of normativities where the ordered demand of the creation the agential powers which we are conscious of possessing and the moment of opportunity into which we are thrust all flow together” Where does O'Donovan's book fit within this search Paths at least in the sense that O'Donovan is using the metaphor are not clearly marked and mapped A work of theology even a very good one like O'Donovan's cannot reveal your particular path the next step you need to take in the dilemmas you encounter But in the search for this next step I think theology like Finding and Seeking helps identify some key landmarks and can also provide some encouragement to the weary traveler As O'Donovan admits in the interview linked to above theology is not disconnected from our very human sense of need of confusion of seeking even as we findIn the end the uestions I have asked have been the uestions that have been important to me Like C S Lewis I can say “I have written the books I wanted to write” But “want” must have its full depth of meaning the books I have written are the books I needed to write — needed in order to go on thinking needed in order to speak about the Gospel to those who had a right to hear it from me and why not add at the risk of being histrionic needed in order to live Christian Ethics is a wearisome business when it is aimed at telling other people what to do My first readership has been myself But we are none of us alone; if I find myself puzzling over the complex path of Christian discipleship in our puzzling age I can find others to puzzle with me

  2. Eric Radman says:

    O'Donovan values the meaning of English words and he relates the significance of our language to what we know of ourselves through reflection and providence He takes a number of soundings where he explores what we mean by the words we use Here are some uotes under the heading Prejudice which he defines asa stiff necked defensiveness which refuses the communication that human virtue offersIf that sounds simple it is only because I didn't uote the rest of the page On the one hand there is value in the world we knowthere are truths which create around us an atmosphere in which we feel we can flourishBut if this is as far we go we risk missing what is beyond usThe awareness of the self within the loved and known can shrink the imagined world to the dimensions of what is gratifying and reinforcing confined to the circles were we have found our comfort zone and on guard against whatever might point beyond itHe then tightens the argument by using educationalists who would rejoice at shaking students' beliefsLoosing hold on the world and seeing reality melt before one's eyes leaves one in no condition to learn anything To learn is to integrateWhile all three books in this series are immensely thoughtful I have to knock off a star for the overly dense writing which makes the book difficult to read

  3. Daniel Mcgregor says:

    Not my fieldI wish I could rate this book higher Unfortunately it felt like reading Middle English able to pick up words and ideas but not feeling that one has grasped the entire concept This is not the author’s fault but is completely on my shoulders O’Donovan is not at fault here Ethics is not my strongest field of study I am sure that if it were I could rate it higher

  4. Thomas says:

    Powerful work of the same uality as the first volume of this three part series Really a must read for anyone interested in a sophisticated account of ethics from a theological perspective

  5. Steve Frederick says:

    Especially exercised and excited by O’Donovan’s reflections on what he calls “sin against time” last 13rd of book the way we confuse misapply our understanding and conception of time anxiety anticipation and their relationship to hope and decision making

  6. Kenny says:

    Another extraordinary volume by Oliver O'Donovan The recommendations on the back to read the book carefully slowly and self reflectively by the likes of Richard Hays and Gilbert Meilaender speak to the richness this book offersIn this book Oliver O'Donovan extends his account of practical reason in the context of being led by the Spirit As in the previously volume this book is richly biblical offering an understanding of human agency with the Gospel of Jesus Christ always at the centerRead pp24 27 on faith as the root of action—but really you could pick this book up and read any section and be struck by its wisdomFor an interview with O'Donovan about this project

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