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God, Death, and Religious Teaching: Essays on the Philosophy of Religion

Title: God, Death, and Religious Teaching
Subtitle: Essays on the Philosophy of Religion
Subject Classification: Religion and Faith, Philosophy
BIC Classification: HRC, HP, HR
BISAC Classification: REL067000, PHI022000, REL051000
Binding: Hardback, Paperback, ebook, pp.254
Publication date: 24th February 2023
ISBN (Hardback): 978-1-80441-125-4
ISBN (Paperback): 978-1-80441-365-4
ISBN (ebook): 978-1-80441-126-1

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This is a collection of articles written by the author, which range through the Christian doctrines of creation, the human soul, the Eucharist, and life after death, which have always been centres of discussion by philosophers and theologians. They discuss the right way to approach theological issues. They offer a distinctive approach to ethical questions that arise in controversy between different religious traditions, and between religious and secular thinkers generally. And they consider the place of faith in religious thinking and the weight that should be given to authority and tradition. The volume carries a new general introduction to the collection.


Author: William Charlton was Head of the Philosophy Department at Edinburgh University, UK. He has taught Humanity at Glasgow University and Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, and Newcastle University, UK. He has published extensively on philosophy and religion.


"Our confrère, William Charlton, has dedicated a lifetime as a philosopher to questions and approaches that elude most of his colleagues. He scrutinizes religion with all the resources of acuity, rigour and precision that linguistic philosophy imparts. And he deploys philosophical thinking with profound religious insight and devotion. The results are highly instructive for theology and philosophy alike. His new book, God, Death, and Religious Teaching: Essays on the Philosophy of Religion (Ethics International Press), distills his life´s work. Old and admired insights, first published over a period exceeding thirty years, are updated and much new material appears. No one, however well instructed in Catholic tradition or however adept in the scrutiny of text, can emerge unchanged from reading the collection. Though the subtitle draws attention to the moral-philosophical content of the author´s thought, there is as much to ponder about the problems of distinguishing truth from falsehood as about right and wrong.

Willy – as his friends in the Order call him – is unusual not only in treating secular and sacred philosophy with equal respect, and deploying both, with equal mastery, for mutual illumination, but also in the breadth of sympathy, culture and erudition he commands. There are allusions to literature – especially English and classical works – on almost every page. His knowledge of scripture would do credit to the most renowned professional exegetes. He is well informed on psychology and neuroscience. A wry, professorial sense of humour lightens the writer´s touch. He is as ingenious as any homilist in devising everyday, practical analogies for complex thoughts. He has a gift for devising parables. Though the essays are all independent of one another they form a coherent whole, as Willy takes us on an orderly course from matters of belief – in creation, the soul, and the sacrament of the altar – to those of dogma, such as infallibility and faith as a subject of intellect. Along the way we explore values and will, especially in connection with natural law, and visit the afterlife in essays on death, purgatory and heaven.

My fondness for pedantic quibbles cannot shatter my admiration for the book (though I read Antiphon, Locke and the Justinian somewhat differently from Willy and think his view on the eucharist too radical to endorse without more exhaustive coverage of existing literature). But thank God for differences – one can secure universal assent only by being boring or platitudinous. No recent works of philosophy and few of theology have given me so much to think about or provided me with so much entertainment and instruction. Willy Charlton is not just a refreshingly uninhibited thinker – uninhibited by authority, or rivalry, or pedantry, or his discipline´s normal pernickety reticence: he dares and wins."

- Professor Felipe Fernández-Armesto, University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA

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