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Love And Freedom Notes

Theology Notes > Christian Ethics (focus on Medical ethics) Notes

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Which love and which freedom are genuinely Christian, and how are they related?
Love

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How would you define love; which are the defining categories?
Are there types of love that we should distinguish?
What are worthy objects of love, and how are they related?
How does human love relate to God's love?
Is love all you need for a sound (Christian) ethics?
Is love an obstacle to freedom, or freedom a threat to love?

Freedom

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What is the basic or paradigmatic situation in which freedom is actualised?
How is freedom related to choice, necessity, commitment, bondage, tragedy, suffering?
What are the governing presumptions behind different conceptions of freedom (in terms of ideas about human nature, the order of the cosmos, the ways of God)?
What is the Scriptural understanding of freedom?
Who might count as exemplars of true freedom?
What are the most destructive threats to freedom?

Augustine: Love Luther: Freedom O'Donovan: Combining the two in systematic moral theory Martin Luther - Treatise on Christian Liberty (in FCW) Two propositions 'concerning the freedom and the bondage of the spirit':

1. A Christian is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none - Rom 13.8 'owe no-one anything, except to love'

2. A Christian is a perfectly dutiful servant, subject to all - 1 Cor 9.19 'I have made myself a slave to all' Clearly these two appear to be mutually exclusive, but Luther suggests that if we can show that the two fit together 'they would serve our purpose beautifully'. Love is 'ready to serve', and to be subject to 'him who is loved'. Love - 'few words so indispensable to Christian ethics are so imprecise in their denotation'. What exactly is meant by 'love' is, in Christian ethics as in all fields, never precisely clear or describable. The 'double-love' commandment is, however, at the heart of Christian ethics - Augustine: anyone who claims to have understood the central tenets of Christian scripture but deduces the central message to be anything other than 'twofold love of God and our neighbour'. Freedom - two kinds: freedom from and freedom to. Freedom from external hindrance or restriction and freedom to act upon one's own deepest held beliefs and commitments. Luther (treatise on Christian Liberty): Christians are free not to obey God's law, but freely and joyfully serve God and love their neighbour - subject to none (Rom 13.8) and servant of all (1 Cor 9.19). This element of duality is important to Luther - it explains apparent contradictions in the teachings of Scripture, since man is in fact two contradictory elements, spirit and flesh (2 Cor 4.16, Gal

5.17). Thus at times scripture addresses the 'inner man', and at times the 'outer man'. Luther asserts that the inner man - the soul - cannot be made free by any earthly works, but only by true and faithful acceptance of God's offer of salvation. Thus we are exhorted to lay aside confidence in earthly works and strengthen our faith in Christ independent of these works - John 8.36 'if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed' and Matt 4.4 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'. Nothing external influences Christian righteousness or freedom: how can the soul profit from the

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