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On the development of Christian “virtue”

Summary

Edwin Judge says that trust, hope, and care are not actually virtues.

Summary

Edwin Judge says that trust, hope, and care are not actually virtues.

Transcript

The first Christians in my opinion did not have a set of values or virtues. They did not categorise systematically the things that they thought good about a person. People often refer to “the Pauline three”, which he says are abiding things, and they are: trust, hope, and care. Those are the three things that last forever, says Paul. And they are not virtues.

Trust, for example, is not credulity. It doesn’t mean believing anything; it means trusting another person. And hope is not simply optimism. It relates to other people, hope is your response to a promise that somebody else has made to you. And care is a response to somebody else’s need. It’s not that you are fond of them or prefer them or anything like that, it’s not love in that sense. It’s sharing in their problem and caring about them.

So these three things which Paul advocates are not virtues – that is, they’re not properties of your soul that you can train yourself in. They are responses which a faithful person, that is a person who does trust Christ, say, or his neighbour for that matter … they are responses to other people.