Paul among liberals and communitarians: models for Christian ethics
Horrell, David G.
University of Exeter
Pacifica Theological Studies Association
This essay first sketches the contrasts between liberal and communitarian approaches to ethics, represented by Jürgen Habermas and Stanley Hauerwas respectively, as a contemporary context in which to read Paul’s ethics. Three sample studies in Paul’s ethics (Philippians 2, 1 Corinthians 5, and Romans 14-15) then illustrate how the Pauline material offers various points of contact with these contrasting approaches to ethics and the debates between them. Unlike in the recent work of Douglas Harink, here Paul is not seen as clearly and unambiguously affirming the ecclesial ethics of Hauerwas but rather as offering a rather more diverse range of possibilities and points of critical comparison. In the closing sections of the essay three possible models for the contemporary appropriation of Pauline ethics are outlined: one is closest to an ecclesial model, another is closer to a liberal model which looks to foster a wider consensus on moral norms, and a third considers how Paul’s approach to ethics might inform a (possibly post-Christian) social ethic.
AHRB; the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation
© 2005 The Pacifica Theological Studies Association
18(1), pp. 33-52