The Struggle of the Theological Dimension of “God” in Moral Theology in Authors of the Era of Joseph II.
Abstract: The generation of moral theologians of the period of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) stressed the importance of the renewal of moral theology in a narrow bond with the message of the Gospels. This need arose above all as a result of the ever-more pronounced separation of moral theology from the framework of other fields of theology following the Council of Trent, as is attested by a glance at the early modern era history of the field. The efforts to create a logically consistent ethical system defined both the period known as the “Second Scholasticism” in the 17th century, and the neo-scholastic reaction of the 19th century. The generation of “Josephine” moral theologians made a curious attempt at the renewal of moral theology, defined both by a more rigorous reading of Biblical texts and a greater emphasis on the pastoral significance of the ethical message itself. These “new” aspects are reflected in the transformed “notion of God”: Josephine theologians criticized the traditional conception of God as a superstitious one, inspiring a slave-like terror in men, resulting in an effort to ingratiate themselves to this despotic deity by the lavishness of their religious dedication. A “true” notion of God, however, appraises God’s mercy and his paternal kindness. An ethical teaching conceived anew in this manner inspires in men a grateful love of such a God, a love that constitutes the driving force of further moral evolution. This is reflected not only in a more wholesome way of relating to oneself, but also in a benign attitude to others, and as such contributes to the general well-being of society.
Key words: Moral Theology, Josephinism, Enlightenment, God