Ethics is theology, theology is ethics : atonement, moral formation, and the justification of Christian doctrine in the work of James Wm. McClendon, Jr.
This project examines the relationship of doctrine and moral formation or ethics in the work of James Wm. McClendon, Jr. The general thesis is that McClendon understood ethics to relate to doctrine in such a way that ethics constitutes a type of justification for the truthfulness of doctrinal confession. After introducing the logic for considering atonement and moral formation together in this manner, the project proceeds by explaining McClendon's "narrative" epistemology. This introductory material is followed by an examination of historical Anabaptism and "postmodernism" as communities of reference that contribute to McClendon's epistemological vision. The project then moves to an explication of McClendon's own presentation of the nature of doctrine (specifically the atonement) and ethics, primarily as seen in his three-volume systematic theology, followed by an analysis of McClendon's presentation of his own epistemological method from his book Convections. The final chapter before the Conclusion examines the way the material in the first 5 chapters is manifest in, and depends on, McClendon's sense of the nature of ecclesiology. The Conclusion then summarizes the argument and draws attention to several areas where McClendon's vision and methodology open to several critical questions. My conclusion is that McClendon's understanding of the nature of the atonement is manifest in his sense of the place and function of moral formation of the church, and that this relationship explains how McClendon understands Christian confession to be justifiably held by the Church.