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“Religious” or “Secular”? Christian Ethics in Pluralist Democracies

The boundary between “religious” and “secular” is at the centre of numerous assessments and contemporary debates: on whether, and in what sense, society can now be called “post-secular”, while the state should be neutral with regard to worldviews; whether the counterpart to “secular” should be classified as “faith-based”; or whether Johannes Brahms’s German Requiem, composed with personally selected biblical texts, should be seen as “secular” in distinction from the Latin text which counts as “religious”. Different conceptions of this fluctuating boundary will be analysed In order to situate Christian Ethics in contemporary culture and in debates on the public sphere.

The second part of the module with trace in key examples how Christian Ethics has interacted with the traditions and thought forms it encountered from Early Christianity onwards. The four sources of Theological Ethics, their cultural backgrounds and premises will be analysed: 1) Scripture, 2) its reception in the practice of Christian communities and in the traditions of theological thinking, 3) a philosophical, general concept of the ‘normatively human’, and 4) the human sciences. The third part will explore concrete ethical issues as examples for their distinct perspectives. It will illustrate how Theological Ethics interacts with other disciplines, such as biblical studies and hermeneutics, systematic theology, philosophy, and the individual human sciences.

How to apply

Applications can be made in person on Thursday 15th December 2016, 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. in the Department of Religions and Theology, Room 5010, Level 5 of the Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Dublin 2 or by post before 20th December 2016.


EUR 150 for the course. For security reasons payment should be by cheque/draft/postal money order only, made payable to Trinity College Dublin no. 1 account. A concession rate is available to second and third level students, unemployed persons and those in receipt of a social welfare pension.


Teaching commences during the week beginning 16th January 2017. Please note this is a day-time course.


The course runs for a total of twelve weeks, with no lectures in week 7.

Further Information

Contact: Jane Welch, Executive Officer, Department of Religions and Theology, Arts Building, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin, Dublin 2. Phone: 01 896 1297, email: