Prof. Burggraeve’s contribution to moral theology today

F.Y.I.: There will be Glasmacher lecture which will be held at Saint Paul University in Ottawa, Wednesday, November 3th, 2010 at 7:30 PM, Amphitheatre room 1124 by Prof. Roger Burggraeve on: THE FLESH BECOMES WORD: The constitutive meaning of the sexual body for marriage and family.

Here is the abstract from Prof.Burggraeve’s talk at K.U.Leuven Faculty of Theology (2008) an international conference under the title Responsibility, God and Society: Theological Ethics in Dialogue:

"What kind of society and community do we want to live in? Do we want the coldness of the world of Cain, where nobody cares for his or her brothers or sisters (and where, supposedly, God would then care for each one of us separately), or do we want a world in which as Abraham does we plead with God for our fellow human beings, even when they are evildoers? Indeed, in the case of the story of Abraham and God at Sodom, the starting point is the anger of a God who revolts against the evil done by the people of Sodom. The situation is so harsh, that God wants to go and see, and that he takes a decision to destroy the city of Sodom: its people are really committing crimes against humanity: God is full of rage when confronted with that kind of evil. This is unacceptable to God. Although God is a bit afraid to do so (Roger suggests that God already suspects that Abraham may disagree), he consults with his friend Abraham. The latter responds: “How can you, God, risk to kill innocent and righteous people while destroying the city of Sodom? Is such an anger justified, that to eradicate evil you’re willing to sacrifice some innocent people?” Of course, Abraham’s counter proposal is as excessive as God’s plan: “Even if there are only a few righteous people, should you not because of them save also the evil ones?” It reminds me of the excessive claim of apocatastasis: the belief that everything and all (even the devil) will be saved and end up in heaven … indeed, everyone is loved by someone else … if someone ends up in hell, this means that also those who love this evil person end up in hell, as their love cannot be complete … Does belief in apocatastasis not mean, however, that we do not take evil serious?

How human beings have to answer questions in a complex and complicated world, where evil and good, joy and despair intermingle. Such “discernment” is a real conversation with God in such a way that it is a conversation with ourselves, with people around us and with the world in which we live. Roger went on and looked at the double attitude of Abraham in the conversation with God: on the one side he is well aware that he belongs to an ambiguous world, that he is mortal and vulnerable, but on the other side, he is not afraid to address God directly, to disagree with God and to challenge God. This is what Cain does not do: he does not present his grief to God, he does not sue God for injustice in receiving Abel’s but not his offerings. Then, this source of injustice can work in him, up to the point of enabling him to kill his brother and so to destroy his deep connectedness with his brother. The friendship of Abraham with God – an adult friendship in which Abraham can and has to be his real self, even if that means disagreeing with God and speaking out against him on behalf of fellow human beings – guarantees Abraham’s connectedness with the world and his fellow human beings.

Roger emphasizes that deep ontological connectedness that is also a theological statement and reality."

Reprinted with permission from: http://jacqueshaers.wordpress.com/2008/05/10/celebrating-roger-burggraeve/

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