A religious analysis of the divine command theory

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A religious analysis of the divine command theory

General view We all have within us that vague and general idea of the religious life which enables us to recognize it when it is described as a life directed to personal perfection, or a life seeking union with God.

Under this twofold aspect it is met with in all ages and places: There are everywhere souls that willingly follow these inclinations and consequently religious souls. Sometimes they attach more importance to the tendency to self-perfection, sometimes to the tendency towards God ; in other words, to the ascetic tendency or the mystical tendency; but since God is the end of man, the two tendencies are so similar as to be practically one.

If the Creator has put into our souls the principle of religious life, we must expect not only to find it, more and less intense, in every religion, but also to see it reveal itself in similar ways.

We should not be surprised if outside the true Church there should be persons devoted to contemplation, solitude, and sacrifice; but we are not obliged to conclude that our Christian practices are necessarily derived from theirs, since the instincts of human nature sufficiently account for the resemblance.

Such an explanation would not explain the origin of these practices: Nor would the explanation account for the results: In our days the historical derivation of certain usages is a thing of small importance; we may admit without hesitation any connexion which is provedbut not one which is merely assumed.

The Israelites may have borrowed from Egypt the practice of circumcisionwhich was the sign of their covenant with Jehovah ; and so certain ascetic practices, even if they had a pagan origin, were nevertheless, as employed by our monks and religious, Catholic and Christian in meaning and inspiration.

Moreover, not every doctrine or practice of a false religion is necessarily erroneous or reprehensible; there may be great nobility of character among Buddhist monks or Mussulman dervishes, as there may be faults sullying the monastic or religious habits worn in the true Church.

But how are we to recognize the religious life of the true and Divine religion? Not by bodily mortificationswhich may be surpassed in severity by those of the fakirs; not by mystical ecstasies and raptures, which were experienced by those initiated into the Greek and Oriental mysteries, and are still met with among Buddhist monks and dervishes; not even by the faultless lines of all the plans of Catholic religious life, for Godwho desires progress even in His Churchhas permitted rough beginnings, experiments, and individual mistakes; but even the persons making these mistakes possess in the true religion the principles which ensure correction and gradual improvement.

Besides, in its entirety, the religious life of the true religion must appear to us to be in conformity with the moral and social laws of our present existence, as well as with our destiny; its intentions must appear sincerely directed towards personal sanctification, towards Godand the Divine order.

The tree must everywhere be known by its fruits. Now, Catholic religious life infinitely surpasses all other ascetic systems by the truth and beauty of the doctrine laid down in so many rules and treatises, and by the eminent sanctity of its followers such as Saints Anthony, Pachomius, Basil Augustine, Colombanus, Gregoryand others, and finally, especially in the West, by the marvellous fruitfulness of its work for the benefit of mankind.

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After these preliminary observations, we may confidently look for the true religious life in the Gospel. Evangelical idea We cannot regard as essential everything that we find in the full development of religious life, without ignoring historical facts or refusing them the attention they deserve; and we must correct the definitions of Scholastic writers, and lessen some of their requirements, if we wish to put ourselves in harmony with history, and not be compelled to assign to religious a later origin, which would separate them by too long a period from the first preaching of the Gospel which they profess to practise in the most perfect manner.

The Scriptures tell us that perfection consists in the love of God and our neighbour, or to speak more accurately, in a charity which extends from God to our neighbour, finding its motive in Godand the opportunity for its exercise in our neighbour. We say "it has its motive in God", and for that reason Christ tells us that the second commandment is like to the first Matthew For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love Godwhom he seeth not?


The New Testament warns us of the obstacles to this charity arising from an attachment to and desire of created things, and from the cares caused by their possession, and, therefore, besides this precept of charity, our observance of which is the measure of our perfection, the New Testament gives us a general counsel to be disengaged from everything contrary to charity.

This counsel contains certain definite directions, among the most important of Which are the renunciation of riches, of carnal pleasure, and of all ambition and self-seeking, in order to acquire a spirit of voluntary submission and generous devotion to the service of God and our neighbour.The chapter argues that some of them, such as ethical naturalism, ethical non-naturalism, and sensibility theories, are actually not rivals to a divine command account when developed in a reasonable form.

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A religious analysis of the divine command theory

Divine command theory is an ethical view based on theism or the belief that God exists. Followers of the theory accept that all moral judgment is derived from an understanding of God’s character or his direct commandments. Sources.

Besides the Latin works of ST. THOMAS, SUAREZ, LUGO, MAZZELLA, etc., the following authors may be consulted: VAN DEN GHEYN, La Religion, son origine et sa. the religious dimension of education in a catholic school. guidelines for reflection and renewal congregation for catholic education.

introduction. Religion may be defined as a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements.

However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion. Different religions may or may not contain various elements ranging from.

Alternatives to a Divine Command Theory - Oxford Scholarship