First published in 1985 as Les sources de la morale chrétienne by University Press Fribourg, this work has been recognized by scholars worldwide as one of the most important books in the field of moral theology. Already its acclaim has warranted translations into Spanish, Italian, and Polish. Now it is available for the first time in an English translation, which includes a new preface.
Writing in a tone that is reconciliatory rather than polemical, Servais Pinckaers returns Christian ethics to its sources, the Gospel and the Holy Spirit. After discussing the complementary domains of morality and the behavioral and natural sciences, he traces the scriptural themes—particularly in the Sermon on the Mount and the writings of St. Paul—that most influence moral instruction. He then examines in depth the history of moral theology from the patristic period to the present day. This history includes a discussion of the relation of Protestant and Catholic views of Christian ethics.
The unique feature of Pinckaers's contemporary Thomistic view is its emphasis on the virtues, gifts, and evangelical Beatitudes as the heart of the Christian moral life. His approach to morality results in what he calls the freedom for excellence, a notion of freedom that he contrasts with the nominalist concept of the freedom of indifference, which has dominated moral theology since the fourteenth century.
As a complete handbook of moral theology, this book will serve the needs of both beginning and advanced students in seminary and university courses in moral theology and ethics. For Catholic readers in particular, it will provide the background and perspective needed to achieve a fuller understanding of the moral teaching of the Catechism and of the encyclical Veritatis splendor.
Servais Pinckaers, O.P., is professor of moral theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. His most recent books include L'Evangile et la Morale (1989) and La Morale Catholique (1991).
"Pinckaers' wonderful book is characterized by a return to the centrality of the virtues for how one thinks about the moral life...."—First Things"
"This work provides a succinct overview of the history of moral theology, written with a sureness of touch developed by long years of research.... There is no comparable single work in English which explains what moral theology is and what it is about."—Brian V. Johnstone, C.Ss.R., Alphonsian Academy, Rome
"A very readable translation of Pinckaers's award-winning work in foundational ethics...."—Religious Studies Review"