In this article Harry Groenenboom provides a brief investigation of the meaning of Paul Scholtens views against the background of the so called ‘ethical theology’. In doing so, he also addresses the question what the meaning of the word ‘life’ is in this specific context.
In the first place the author makes clear that there is probably an influence of the ethical theology on the philosophy of law of Paul Scholten. To make this point clear, he provides a description of the ethical theology which is based on relatively recent literature about this subject.
Subsequently he makes the influence of the ethical theology on Scholtens writings more specific by investigating a concrete example of the influence of the ethical theologian P.D. Chantepie de la Saussaye on Scholtens philosophy of law.
The author concludes first that the ethical theology has to do with the starting point of theological work, the method, and not with the outcome. In the second place, ‘ethical’ means that one focuses primarily on the heart, not on the mind (or reason) of man. In the third place, ‘ethical’ means an imperative for man to devote himself. Which is based on the conviction that the true humanity of Christians is based on the life and work of Jesus Christ. And in the fourth place the ethical theologians believed that cultural sciences like theology do not exist without a very personal contribution from the researcher.
As for the meaning of the word ‘life’ the author concludes that this means in the first place the true human life. That is the life that is based on the life and work of Jesus Christ. That is a life that serves God and the neighbor, as some ethical theologians stated, in total self-denial.
In the second place, life means full life. Therefore theology as well as other sciences should not depend on mere reason. Feelings, emotions, matters of the heart of man (like conscience) are as much, or even more, important as rational theories or dogmas are.