"The Love of God Holds Creation Together": Andrew Fuller's Theology of Virtue
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Andrew Fuller maintained that Christian orthodoxy--as articulated in Evangelical Calvinism--furnished the foundation, framework, and motivation for moral excellence. On the basis of this axiom, he challenged Enlightenment moral foundations and defended the truth of Christianity against Joseph Priestley and Thomas Paine, arguing that Christianity had a superior tendency to promote virtue in men and women. Chapter 1 introduces Fuller's role in the formation of Evangelicalism. Many argue that Evangelicalism rests on Enlightenment foundations, but I make the case that Fuller's moral thought directly undermined Enlightenment foundations. Chapter 2 contrasts how Fuller based his moral thinking in Christian belief while his Enlightenment opponents rested it in human nature and reason. Chapter 3 introduces Fuller's moral polemic against Socinianism and Deism, and it explains how Fuller's emphasis on the aretegenic value of Christian doctrine represents a continuation of an apologetic method found in many classic theologians like Augustine and Calvin. Like them, Fuller maintained that men and women realized their moral telos by rightly knowing and loving God. Chapter 4 outlines Fuller's theology of virtue, demonstrating how he grounds morality in his Evangelical Calvinist system. Chapter 5 examines Fuller's understanding of how Christian belief motivates virtue in believers' lives. Lastly, Chapter 6 discusses the relevance of Fuller's moral thought for today and its parallels with modern virtue theory.