Power and Christian Ethics by James P. Mackey

By James P. Mackey

Within the traditional research of human behaviour, energy and ethics are usually thought of opposite rules, in that strength enforces, whereas ethics elicits a unfastened reaction. yet, as James Mackey forcefully indicates, a extra adventurous philosophical research of human morality escapes the experience of contraries, and units us on a quest for the type of strength that liberates human creativity. It then turns into attainable to set up the framework for a severe evaluation of the type of energy that should be operative within the significant constructions of human society, civil or ecclesiastical, kingdom governments and church hierarchies. Mackey analyses the non secular query which then relatively obviously emerges, to whether this Eros-type energy so take place in human society originates from past the extra empirical constructions of church buildings, states and 'nature'; and the hassle to discover the in particular Christian characterisation of an allegedly final strength operating in us for ultimate overall healthiness unearths its average context.

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Next in order of superiority is the synod, which includes all the members of a number of presbyteries and 'corresponding members' of adjacent synods. Finally, the supreme court of the Church of Scotland is the General Assembly, normally meeting once a year and made up of equal numbers of teaching and ruling elders sent by all the presbyteries of the Church. Individual parish congregations issue a call to a prospective teaching elder or minister, but it is Presbytery which acknowledges the call and ordains to the ministry of Word and Sacrament; just as it is Presbytery (as episcopos) which proposes ruling elders to be ordained to that office, to individual parishes.

This potted and extremely patchy history of relations between church and civil society in Europe is meant to show that we do not deal with the fluctuating interactions of two separate and different 'powers', but rather with the same language and imagery of power, the same idea or essence of power, animating two governments, each assuming different practical forms in the course of time, and all of this providing for the historical spectacle of fighting, interfering, treating with each other, of merging, and, at times, if only in the theory of Hobbes, all but disappearing, the one into the other.

But the combination here of claims to infallibility in relation to divine origin, and demands Downloaded from University Publishing Online. 251 on Fri Jan 27 11:59:41 GMT 2012. 002 26 Power and Christian ethics for submission of mind and will . . this combination certainly suggests such refusal of personal assessment on the part of the recipient moral agent as to make the end result an example of the exercise of power as force rather than authority. And this is true before any thought is given to threats of punishment, physical or spiritual, by which such moral rulings in this church might well be accompanied.

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