The Boston University Ethical Tradition
STH TS 854
This seminar is designed to orient participants to the BU tradition in theology and ethics that has its roots in the 19th century. We will consider the Boston Personalists beginning with Borden Parker Bowne, John Wesley Edward Bowen, and especially the work of Edgar S. Brightman, as well as the later Personalists -- Albert C. Knudson and Francis McConnell. We will also explore the works of Georgia Harkness, L. Harold DeWolf, Peter Bertocci, and in particular, Walter Muelder (and the Moral Law tradition). There is an emphasis on Howard Thurman and his impact on BU, as well as the influence of the BU ethical tradition on the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. We will also consider the ethics of contemporary exponents of the BU ethical tradition. Throughout the seminar, there is consideration given to the philosophical and theological roots of the BU ethical tradition as well as its social, economic, and political applications. This tradition is based on the belief in a personal God who cares about people, and made each person in the divine image-endowed with inherent value, worth and dignity. This is a central message of the BU ethical tradition, and in the seminar, we will look at is foundations as well as its evolution, and also why that tradition historically was attractive to Black graduate students in theology and social ethics.