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Charity as Virtue in Non-Christians: A Positive Assessment in Light of Augustine, Aquinas, Pope Benedict XVI, and the Catholic Church’s Inclusivism

Author: TODD E. JOHANSON
Published in GVER, Vol. 6 No. 4

Charity is a foundational theological concept in Christianity that is variously defined and related to other theological concepts throughout the tradition’s history. The author charts the trajectory of charity as virtue from Augustine to Aquinas to Erasmus, then to Benedict XVI and to Marion. He attempts to demonstrate that Augustine, Aquinas, and Erasmus can be used in a complementary way to emphasize each other’s strengths, while compensating for each other’s weaknesses, in order to provide a solid foundation for both the Church’s inclusivist stance, and the availability of charity as true virtue in non-Christians.
In inclusivism, the Church is living in the tension between trying to hold to the notion of exclusive truth of revelation, and the pluralistic push to acknowledge and accommodate the truth and goodness of other traditions as much as possible, without compromising her faith. Interreligious dialogue is therefore all the more important, and is in fact indispensable, in light of a pluralistic push as the Church comes to more profoundly seek and find mutual understanding that the goodness and truth of God’s rev

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