In this book, Matthew Levering surveys twentieth-century Catholic moral theology to construct an argument for keeping conscience firmly alongside prudence, charity, and the gifts of the Spirit--and for understanding it as something that must be formed by the revealed truths of Scripture as interpreted and applied in the church. Levering shows how conscience-centered ethics came to be--both prior to and following the Second Vatican Council--and how important voices from both the Catholic and Protestant communities criticized the primacy of conscience in favor of an approach that considers conscience within "the broader framework of the Christian moral organism."
Rather than engaging with current hot-button issues, Levering presents and deconstructs the work of twenty-six noteworthy theologians from the recent past in order to work through core matters. He begins by examining how the conscience has been dealt with in dialogue with the Bible and in the Catholic "moral manuals" of the twentieth century. He then explores the rebuttals to conscience-centered ethics offered by pre- and post-conciliar Thomists and the emergence of a new, even more problematic conscience-centered ethics in German thought. Amid this wide-ranging introduction to various strands of Catholic moral theology, Levering crafts an incisive intervention of his own against the "abuse of conscience" that besets the church today as it did in the last century.