An outline of moral theology based on Titus 2:11-14

1. The grace that *saves* also *trains*. But the order here matters: God trains those he saves; he doesn’t save those he trains.
2. Grace trains us to deny vice and to cultivate virtue. This is the form that the Christian life takes between its inauguration by grace and its consummation in glory.
3. The life that grace trains us to cultivate may be summarized under three virtues, three forms of free and excellent human action: piety, justice, and moderation.
4. These three virtues represent free and excellent forms of action with respect to three objects of action: piety concerns what we owe God, justice concerns what we owe our neighbors, moderation concerns what we owe ourselves in the use and enjoyment of creaturely goods.
5. Cultivating virtue is not the supreme and final good of the Christian life. Our supreme and final beatitude lies in seeing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ at his appearing. The entirety of the Christian life is ordered by and to this crowning good.
Titus 2:11-14 provides a useful outline for moral theology because it can subsume the Ten Commandments and the double love command (under our duties to God and neighbor), the Lord’s Prayer (under hope), and teaching about food, wealth, sex, etc. (under moderation).
Here’s the application for Thanksgiving: moderation is opposed to false asceticism. God gives us all good things (food, wealth, sex, etc) to *enjoy*. But pious, right enjoyment of all good things is ordered to the enjoyment of God and the mutual enrichment of our neighbors.
In Augustinian terms: we use all good things as means to our supreme enjoyment of God, not vice-versa. We receive all good things in order to share them, not merely for our private pleasure at the expense of our neighbors.
(And, yes, *feasting*, like fasting, is consistent with moderate use of creaturely blessings. So eat that extra slice of pumpkin pie today, with gratitude and joy in your heart unto the Lord.)

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More from @scottrswain

23 Nov
That God is impassible means at least three things.

1. God is the uncaused cause of all that exists, the unmoved mover of all that happens. From him and through him and to him are all things.
2. God has no appetite to acquire anything (Maximus the Confessor). He is all-sufficient in and of himself, the blessed and only Sovereign. God does not receive gifts from his creatures; he is not enriched by his creatures. He is the absolute giver of every good and perfect gift.
3. God has no disordered desires. Unlike the gods of Olympus, the true and living God is not subject to passions. He is not tempted nor can he be tempted. Morally speaking, God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Read 7 tweets
9 Jun
Good question! Folks in my Presby neck of the woods sometimes worry about Wesley's hymn for two reasons. Thread.
(1) Their first (legitimate) worry is that the hymn might imply the idea, popularized in 19th century Kenoticism, that the Son of God "emptied" himself of certain divine attributes when he became incarnate.
However, whatever Charles Wesley may have meant by that particular line, I don't think Kenoticism is necessarily implied by the hymn, which can be taken in a very straightforward Pauline sense (a la Phil 2).
Read 7 tweets
1 Jun
In addition to a good night’s rest, one benefit of going to bed early is that you miss late night Twitter.

But let me tell you a little story. I am a Florida man, born and bred, but I went to seminary in NC. In my last year in seminary, I married a girl from NC.
One day, while my wife was at work teaching second graders and I was at home working on my thesis, I decided to send her some flowers. I called the florist. She took my information. Then she asked me a question: “Is this fornication?”
Now, dear reader, I was raised on the KJV and I knew very well what fornication was.

And I was offended.

No. This was not fornication, I thought to myself. I have taken a wife by upright and honest means.
Read 15 tweets
31 May
Always attentive to the *ways* the Bible teaches the Trinity. Here's another:

1. Ask *who* knows/does divine thing x (Isa 40:13-14; Rev 5:2).

2. Rule out *all* creaturely candidates (Isa 40:15ff; 1 Cor 2:11; Rev 5:3-4).
3. Answer with a *person* of the Trinity, e.g.,: the Lamb of God, the Spirit of God (1 Cor 2:11; Rev 5:5).
What's great is that these are questions that Scripture does not presume we would be able to answer. Scripture asks and answers its own questions!
Read 5 tweets
23 Apr
Notes on the externally directed works of the Trinity (opera trinitatis ad extra):

1. Because the divine nature is one, there is one divine agency.

2. However, only persons, not natures, act. (This is missing in some post-2016 discussions.)
3. In order to appreciate how divine persons act, we must distinguish agency and mode of agency.

4. There is a mental but not a real distinction between agency and mode of agency, due to divine simplicity.

5. There is however a real distinction between various modes of agency.
6. Mode of agency corresponds to mode of subsistence; indeed, mode of agency *just is* mode of subsistence directed outwardly.


7. The Father always acts through the Son and the Spirit.
Read 5 tweets
23 Apr
We sometimes miss significant aspects of biblical teaching on the Trinity because we are unfamiliar with ancient philosophical terms and concepts.

Here's an attempt to show how attention to the meaning of ἴδιος illumines two NT texts:…
I didn't note it in the post, but patristic, medieval, and Protestant orthodox exegetes *rarely* missed the above-noted point. This is partly due, no doubt, to the fact (observed somewhere by Moises Silva) that some of them (e.g., Cyril of Alexandria) were native Greek speakers.
It's also due to the fact that they had a much better grasp of Greco-Roman philosophy, and its appropriation in Jewish and biblical sources.
Read 5 tweets

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