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Faith, friendship, and justice: Elements for a Christian social ethic

Fred Guyette

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Guyette, F. (2014) Faith, friendship, and justice: Elements for a Christian social ethic. AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies, 2:1, pp. 45-61. doi: 10.5518/AMITY/10


To construct a vision of friendship and its significance for Christian social ethics, I begin with one of the earliest accounts: St. Augustine’s discussions of friendship in The Confessions and The City of God. Augustine’s political project, however, eventually comes to depend too much on religious coercion for its fulfilment, a development that can be traced in Augustine’s Letters. The Benedictine Rule assumes a different setting for Christian friendship, and it describes a form of religious obedience that is freely chosen. Thomas Aquinas envisions a sacramental life that nourishes growth in virtue and friendship with God, and he tries to show how these virtues can build up the common good outside the walls of the monastery. Jean-François Lyotard notes, however, that the postmodern ethos is suspicious of all meta-narratives, including the Christian faith. Discussions of ‘social capital’ (bonding, bridging, linking) offer clues that might lead
to a renewed appreciation of Christian friendship and the role it can play in building up the common good.

Keywords: friendship, justice, social capital, Augustine, Aquinas

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