The Roots of Reformed Moral Theology

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Semper Fidelis

2 Timothy 2:24-25
Staff member
I just finished listening to this book via Tesxt to Speech and think it's a must-read for any interested in the subject of moral theology.

I worked with Dr. Baugus on a PCA Committee and found him to be a razor-sharp theologian and humble churchman.

This book explores the history and development of moral theology as a distinct, sometimes parallel, discipline with the history of the philosophy of ethics.

In early Chapters, he traces debates over whether the Scriptures borrow from Greek philosophers (as some aver) or vice-versa but notes how the Scriptures themselves guided and shaped the development of a moral theology through the history of the Scriptures. He takes up the history of how moral theology developed through the ancient, medieval, and early Reformation. He notes how the Reformers developed moral theology but continued in the vein of the Church's formation of moral theology over the centuries.

I even found it to be a good explanation of the realist, nominalist, and voluntarist schools and how later Reformed thinkers continued in dialogue with the same.

I had never really considered how the penitential system developed in the Church (and continued in the Roman Catholic system) would profoundly shape the nature of moral theology itself. Because, in this schema, the Church needs to know the extent of the guilt incurred, it would also develop guides for Priests on the appropriate amount of penance. Since this schema is much more transactional and exact, it makes sense that Roman Catholic moral theologians would continue, to this day, to be engaged in a more systematic moral system that translates its theology even in the midst of the decay of Christendom. The Reformed rightly discarded the "rules" for another kind of moral theology but it doesn't lend itself to making "lawyers" as the RCC system does.

There are also some very important things that many of us can learn from with respect to the status of natural law. I think this work, along with some of his future work, may help unwind some of the "all for Thomas" vs "all against Thomas" debates that are roiling.
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