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A mix of constructive theology and critical doctrinal survey, it outlines the systematic theological framework for a forthcoming volume on the Christian ethics of non-human animal life.

Volume II: Theological Ethics

While ethics is his primary interest, Clough nevertheless believes the theology is important. He observes that "human relationships with non-human animals have undergone rapid transformation, as a result of the industrialization of meat production, the expansion of human population and new scientific knowledge" p. Lacking a theological vision, Christians have remained largely insensitive to these changes and thus have not seen it necessary to address them in the course of their witness. While Clough weighs a number of specific positions - both classical and contemporary - on the loci of creation, reconciliation, and redemption, his overarching interest seems to be the displacement of the anthropocentrism what Andrew Linzey calls "humanocentricity" that has too often become the default theological outlook.

We can see why Clough found it necessary to engage systematic theology first, for it is not just ignorance but inadequacy he detects in Christian theology. The first part considers the doctrine of creation. Clough easily dispatches those views which identify human flourishing as the purpose for all other created being as well as crude theocentric accounts which reduce creation to a divine tool.

Creation is for the purpose of divine delight and fellowship with creatures, fellowship which blesses the creature since creation is of God. Clough continues by arguing that human and non-human animals partake of the same kind of fellowship with God. Of course, Clough must tackle the question of the meaning of the imago Dei. The world bears witness to its creator, but it is not this creator nor part of it, and this world can be experienced and manipulated as if its creator does not exist.

In this sense, it belongs to the very ontological nature of the world as creation that it can be disenchanted. Such a transformation of faith into the highest and necessary form of reason would do away with the freedom of assent that I regard as essential to the Christian concept of faith. Christianity needs to be a message of hope and salvation, rather than an ultimate explanation of everything. Hence, I accept the disenchantment of the world to a certain extent.

I also accept our power to master the world through technical manipulation and culturation, as an ontological possibility that is. A re-enchantment of the world in terms of rethinking being as existence in God is, in my mind, not an effective measure against the grave exploitation of our natural environment nor an adequate answer to our unlimited trust in technical innovation.

Rethinking the ontological status of the world in terms of an existence in God is, after all, no more than a reformulation of the status quo. But what then is needed? What is needed is a change of heart rather than a change of ontology. In my reading of Augustine, I will show how for Augustine the promise of Christian faith is located on the level of goodness, not on the level of truth. Doing justice is the ultimate aim of human beings.

This doing the good has both a universal and a particularly Christian aspect. As I will show, Augustine suggests that all human beings have an inborn capacity for knowing the good. When it comes to the knowledge and initial desire to do the good, Christianity has no more to offer than a reminder of something that has been built in into human nature, namely, a sensitivity to the good. In many cases, non-believers may even act as reminders of the good to Christians. This reminder is necessary due to sin, but even then it is a reminder that makes an appeal to an inborn capacity.


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At the same time, the knowledge of and the basic intention to do the good does not mean that we actually do the good, at least not to a sufficient degree. This is the point where the particularly Christian aspect of a theology of the good comes to the fore.


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According to Augustine, faith in Christ offers a perspective upon the moral restoration of human beings, so that we are renewed according to the image of God in which we have been created. Hence, the key to a new way of dealing with the world is not a better view of its ontological status but the transformation of our very being into the image of the Trinity. Such a transformation has the promise of restoring our relationships with other human beings, our natural environment, technology and, last but not least, ourselves.

If God alone deserves our highest love through faith, this makes us free both to love others without mastering them and to love ourselves without competing with others. For Christians, this is not something that they have already reached, but it is a transformation that they are on the way towards through grace.

Although an ethics of imitation is important in Christianity, I plea for rooting this spirituality of imitation in a classical doctrine of grace that in turn is rooted in a high Christology. We cannot do the good on our own, although we do it through grace and all our earthly happiness consists in doing it.

This is paradoxical, but it is crucially important to the credibility of Christianity. An optimistic moralistic Christianity is doomed to fail in the face of frustration about missed opportunities and the stubbornness of human frailty.

If the Word became flesh, should we all become vegan? (Part 2)

This is where I see the appeal of Christianity in a secular culture. This appeal is not primarily another understanding of reality. Of course the consequence of being in Christ and being constantly renewed by the work of the Spirit will lead to another way of looking at the world around us, but it is not the primary message or appeal to non-Christians. What is primary is the moral transformation of Christians through faith in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that is directed towards doing justice. How to Read This Book A final note about the structure of the chapters that follow.

As a side-note: those who want a quick outline of the book as a whole, should jump to section 6. Providing an outline here in the introduction would needlessly duplicate that section. As the reader will have noticed when reading this introduction, this is a multifaceted book. It has both an historical and a systematic-theological component. As an academic study, it also has a component of discussion with existing research. Although the various aspects of the book are integrated and hopefully make for a coherent flow to my argument, it is possible to read the book according to one specific interest.

Section headings show that Chapters 1—4 have a section on secondary literature, often subdivided into subsections 16 Tertullian, Apologeticum, Explicit discussion with alternative interpretations in the close reading sections on the various books is limited. Readers with a primary interest in Augustine scholarship could concentrate on the discussions of the secondary literature and the close readings of De Trinitate. Of course systematic theologians will also be interested in the critical studies of representatives of modern theology, often the final sections of chapters.

Hill translates with an eye both to the source language as well as to the target language, carefully weighing the effects of the choice of certain equivalents rather than opting for the most literal parallel between Latin and English.

J.I. Packer, Concise Theology (Review)

In general, this is a merit of his approach, and it was the main reason for taking all quotations from De Trinitate from this translation. I can see why Hill did this. This generates an arbitrariness in the translation of this key term that is unsatisfactory.


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Another case where I differ from Hill is in his translations of the technical terms essentia and accidentia in books 5—7. I can see why he does this, but I am unhappy with it. This is because modification suggests change in time, whereas accidentia does not necessarily denote this. Accidentia also indicates the individuality of a member of a class. For example, all horses belong to the class of horses, and the accidents turn them into the specific individual horses, their colour, or their position.

The aspect of change through time is only one aspect of the concept of accidentia. Although Hill generally translates very dynamically, he is very literal when it comes to masculine language. These issues are, as set out in the general introduction, the relationship between God and the world as a relationship of participation, the concept of God as a mirror structure of the structure of the world, theological alignments of the concept of God to philosophical concepts of the Absolute, and in later chapters, the consequences of these issues for Christology, anthropology and soteriology.

In the next section, I will give a brief overview of how the beginning of De Trinitate has been interpreted in modern scholarship. Subsequently, in section 1. In section 1. The Opening Sentences in Recent Scholarship The first sentences of De Trinitate really feel like a programmatic and surprisingly, given the rest of the work, polemical statement. Let me first quote them, in order to situate what we will be talking about.

The work opens as follows: The reader of these reflections of mine on the Trinity should bear in mind that my pen is on the watch against the sophistries of those who scorn the starting-point of faith, and allow themselves to be deceived through an unseasonable and misguided love of reason.

Some of them try to transfer what they have observed about bodily things to incorporeal and spiritual things, which they would measure by the standard of what they experience through the senses of the body or learn by natural human intelligence, lively application, and technical skill.

Duplicate citations

There are others who frame what they think about God, if this is what they think, according to the nature and moods of the human spirit, a mistake which ties their arguments about God to distorted and misleading rules of interpretation. Again, there is another type; people who indeed strive to climb above the created universe, so ineluctably subject to change, and raise their regard to the unchanging substance which is God.

But so top-heavy are they with the load of their mortality, that what they do not know they wish to give the impression of knowing, and what they wish to know they cannot; and so they block their own road to genuine understanding by asserting too categorically their own presumptuous opinions, and then rather than change a misconceived opinion they have defended, they prefer to leave it uncorrected.

It seems most recent interpreters have difficulty relating the polemical purpose Augustine suggests at the beginning with the rest of the work.

Sarx Interview with Professor David Clough

Schindler discusses the proemium both at the beginning of his book3 and in his paraphrasing discussion. In an attempt to do away with a reading that depends too strongly on the links between Augustine and Neoplatonism, they seem to ignore most of the relationship between the two, be they positive appropriations of Neoplatonic themes or criticisms of it. Barnes and Ayres follow Studer in many respects. Studer pays some attention to the opening sentences of De Trinitate, but he incorporates its contents into his own idea of the overall purpose of the work: exercitatio animi.

This is to be understood as a search for the right faith that furthers the Christian life of the searcher himself. Rather than construing the opening sentences as a dialogue with the Platonic tradition, he puts it in the context of the Arian controversy in Milan. Schindler, Wort und Analogie, 1. And why do we find hardly any reference to the anti-Pelagian controversy in this work, although the basic tenets are indeed in the background? As I will show in due course, they fit well into the overall argument.

However, it might well be that if we take this beginning more seriously, it is not only Gabriel Biel, but indeed Augustine who gives some food to a distinction between the resources for thinking through the Trinity in philosophy and theology. The textual traditions concerning the proemia is ambiguous. Augustine does not indicate the first sections of book 1 as a proemium, and we do not know where it ends, although it seems to me quite clear that it ends after section 6.

I had, however, already intended to write this chapter in , and there is little reason to ignore it due to its date of origin. The fact that Augustine wrote the proemium after having completed the work makes the polemical introduction all the more remarkable, given the fact that he then had a clear overview of the work as a whole.

Sarx Interview with Professor David Clough - Evangelicals for Social Action

If he had written the proemium at the beginning, one might have suggested that he deviated from his original purpose later on, which is definitely not the case now. Brachtendorf asks how it is possible that the soul becomes an analogon to the ontological nature of God given that Augustine so clearly rejected such a parallel in the opening sentences of his work. The question is, of course, and we will deal with it extensively when we interpret books 8 to 10 in Chapter 4, whether Augustine has the purpose to develop this sort of analogy in mind at all.

On the one hand, Augustine rejects all attempts to think of God along the lines of the material world, the nature and affections of the soul, and along the lines of negative theology, but at the same time, he does all three in De Trinitate, and even in this proemium to book 1, as we see in 1. Thus it would use words taken from corporeal things to speak about God with, as when it says Shelter me under the shadow of your wings Ps ; and from the sphere of created spirit it has transposed many words to signify what was not in fact like that, but had to be expressed like that; I am a jealous God Ex for example, and I am sorry I made man Gn From this quote, it is clear that Augustine deliberately draws on the first two categories that he rejected in the opening sentences.

Augustine affirms that Scripture uses words from the created order and more specifically from the human mind to speak of God. This aspect of Scripture is then used as an argument against the third type of error. The refutation of the third error, rejecting both analogies in the material and the spiritual world of the soul, is much sharper: But from things that simply do not exist it never has drawn any names to form into figures of speech or weave into riddles.

Hence those who are shut off from the truth by the third kind of error fade away into the meaningless even more disastrously than the others, since they imagine things about God that cannot be found either in him or in any creature. This is also what makes the use of analogies from creation in 1.