Angela Knobel - June 2016 Working Group Meeting Topic

Abstract for “Virtue as Divine Gift”

When one compares contemporary Thomist discussions of virtue to the broader contemporary Christian discussion of virtue, one finds a striking disparity of focus.  In recent years Thomist ethicists have displayed an increasing preoccupation with the role of the divine in the life of virtue: in the notion that some (even all) virtues are bestowed on man directly by God, and that the Holy Spirit guides, directs, and shapes moral reasoning.  But a similar focus is not found in mainstream Christian discussions of the virtues, and when the notion of divinely given virtue is mentioned, it is typically mentioned as something specific to the thought of Thomas Aquinas.  It is my contention, however, that the notion of divinely given virtue can be profitably accommodated by non-Thomist Christian virtue ethicists.  This paper lays preliminary groundwork for that broader thesis by making a historical point about the early reformation view of virtue, namely that it aligned more closely with the contemporary Thomist view than is commonly acknowledged.