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The Betrayal of Charity
The Sins that Sabotage Divine Love
Love was at one time a powerfully unifying force among Christians. In his letters, Paul consistently evokes charity as the avenue to both human and divine communion. If the magnitude of charity was of the upmost importance to early Christians, so were those sins that aimed to distract Christians from acting based on love. Taking seriously the efforts of Paul, and later Thomas Aquinas, to expose and root out the sins against charity, Matthew Levering reclaims the centrality of love for moral, and in fact all, theology.
As Levering argues, the practice of charity leads to inner joy and peace as well as outward mercy, good will, and unity with God and neighbor. The sins against charity—hatred, sloth, envy, discord and contention, schism, war and strife, and sedition and scandal—threaten love’s concrete effects by rebelling against dependence on God and undermining interdependence on others. The Betrayal of Charity seriously considers the consequences of each of the sins against love, compelling individuals and communities to recognize their own loss of charity. In doing so, Levering fosters a spirit of restoration and reminds readers that love—not the sins against it—will have the last word.
1. Is Charity Violent?
2. Hatred and the God of Israel
3. Sloth and the Joy of the Resurrection
4. Envy and God-Reliance
5. Discord, Contention, and Ecclesial Peace
6. Schism and Liturgical Mediation
7. War and the Interpretation of Scripture
8. Scandal, Scapegoats, and Spiritual Downfall
"The Betrayal of Charity: The Sins That Sabotage Divine Love is a piece of scholarship that is unique and creative in its approach and well worth reading. It offers the reader an engaging, scholarly treatment of sins against love and how these sins relate to current issues."
—Perry J. Cahall, Pontifical College Josephinum, The Thomist
"Levering is by now at the forefront of the younger generation of Catholic theologians in America. The Betrayal of Charity provides a profound treatment of particular patterns of sin together with a proper placement of those patterns within the grammar of love. A lovely and intellectually stimulating book."
—Paul J. Griffiths, Warren Chair of Catholic Theology, Duke Divinity School
"The Betrayal of Charity is spirited and engaging. Levering addresses very worthy interlocutors—including Hays and Schwartz—and gives them a good run for their money."
—Gary Anderson, Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible, University of Notre Dame
"Levering's account of love brings Aquinas' moral theology alive for contemporary readers. The Betrayal of Charity sets up a rich dialogue with the biblical texts, as well as Jewish, Protestant, and secular accounts of the virtues and the vices that contradict them."
—Brian Brock, Lecturer in Moral Practical Theology, University of Aberdeen and author of Christian Ethics in a Technological Age
"Levering demonstrates that 'contemplating charity in light of its opposites' will deepen our understanding of the primary theological virtue. This work of moral theology takes scripture and Thomas Aquinas as chief sources for insightful reflections on hatred, sloth, envy, discord, schism, violence and scandal. Levering's brilliance lies in clearing away the sins that sabotage divine love through critical readings of Christianity's critics."
—The Christian Century
Matthew Levering is Perry Family Foundation Chair of Theology at Mundelein Seminary. His most recent publications include Jewish-Christian Dialogue and the Life of Wisdom, Christ and the Catholic Priesthood, Participatory Biblical Exegesis, and Biblical Natural Law. He lives in Mundelein, Illinois.