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Virtue is a term that is being recovered from Greek philosophy to become part of contemporary discussions on ethics. There is good reason for this: both in ancient literature and in the Bible, virtue is a fundamental dimension of ethical living and moral character development. While the concept of virtue predates Christianity, it has been greatly influenced and deepened by the Christian faith. It is also true to say that the thinking of Christians, especially in the Western church, has been influenced by these Greek sources.
Few would deny that moral education is a pressing need today. Unfortunately the concept of virtue has, over the years, deteriorated and, like a host of other terms (tradition, heritage or even right and wrong) has lost its vibrancy. More commonly we now tend to speak of personal “values” rather than virtues. And we create our own “values” rather than conforming ourselves to “virtues” as the categorical “given” aspects of an overall (therefore shared) goodness. So the questions of what virtue is and how we can and why we should become virtuous are crucial considerations for everyday life.
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