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Virtues and Their Vices$
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Kevin Timpe and Craig A. Boyd

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645541

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645541.001.0001

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Charity: How Friendship with God Unfolds in Love for Others

Charity: How Friendship with God Unfolds in Love for Others

(p.369) 17 Charity: How Friendship with God Unfolds in Love for Others
Virtues and Their Vices

Paul J. Wadell

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines Thomas Aquinas’s analysis of the theological virtue of charity by first giving a brief overview of his understanding of the moral life as the pursuit of happiness. It then explores Aquinas’s definition of charity as friendship with God and why a life of friendship with God continually opens up in love and service to others, including one’s enemies. The chapter concludes by considering charity as a distinctive way of life constituted by a variety of practices such as mercy, kindness, and almsgiving. Overall, the chapter suggests that charity is both the center and summit of the Christian life because through friendship with God human beings increasingly participate in their greatest possible good. Such intimate communion with God leads to an abiding and ever growing love for one’s neighbors. This is why a life of charity is an inherently ecstatic way of being.

Keywords:   charity, Aquinas, friendship, virtue, happiness, mercy, kindness, almsgiving, enemies

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