Resurrection and the Senses: In Defence of Thomas (O’Donovan, 2016)

The upper room is the scene where faith is given, and as such is as important to God’s victory as the empty tomb. It would not have been enough that the resurrection should simply have happened; that could have had no more meaning than the birth and death of galaxies. It was an event with meaning, a communicative event, and until the meaning is grasped, the communicative purpose was not accomplished. The resurrection changed the way God’s human creatures could grasp hold of their task of living.

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An Act of Judgment? (O’Donovan, 2011)

Why do the Christian ethics of war and the law founded on it prohibit assassinations? Because assassination cannot be a true act of judgment. The logic of armed conflict is a logic of collective judgment on collective responsibility for wrong. War enacts justice between nations, taking over judgment, as the old saying had it,ubi iudicia cessant,where the courts run out. Its justice is attributive, denying the facility to do wrong, rather than vindicative, setting right old wrongs. As judgment it is pretty rough, lacking the detailed discernment to attribute personal responsibility.

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Certainty and Charity. Presentation to House of Bishops Advisory Group on Sexuality (O’Donovan, 2012)

Christians are used to appealing to heavy reasons for doing what they do; they think of themselves as always acting on their beliefs. Theology, with its own warning against making a graven idol, teaches us to travel light ideologically, to allow the non-ultimate claims of immediate practical need to have their own space.

Practical theology can understand the place of the “pastoral accommodation” within the church. A pastoral accommodation is a response to some urgent presenting needs, without ultimate dogmatic implications. A pastoral accommodation may be paradoxical in relation to basic moral belief, as with the miscalled “just war” which appears at first glance to undermine the commitment to peace which it claims to uphold. The Winchester Report, in recommending a provision for marriage in church of someone with a previous partner still living, conceived this as a pastoral accommodation, making it quite clear, as did the episcopal advice to clergy that followed it, that this was to uphold the principle that marriage was essentially a lifelong commitment and broken marriage was a wrong

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