Moral character, reformed theology, and Jonathan Edwards

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Reformed theology is often thought to be antipathetic to virtue theory. However, Jonathan Edwards is a counterexample to this way of thinking. In this article, I offer an account of Edwards’s moral thought as a case study of Reformed theology that is also a species of virtue theory, focusing on what he says about the formation of character. I argue that key doctrinal commitments drive his moral theology, and generate some interesting problems for his ethics. Although his work is not without shortcomings, Edwards is a thinker whose moral theology might be usefully repaired and retrieved by contemporary theologians in the Reformed tradition for whom ‘duties are founded on doctrines’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)262-277
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Christian Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date23 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Character
  • Holy Spirit
  • Infused grace
  • Jonathan Edwards
  • Reformed theology
  • Virtue theory


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