The Theological Roots of Gratitude


The Christian Faith is characterized by gratitude, a feeling of delight and intellectual excitement that our world is not only created by God but nourished by his gracious presence. God encourages us to reflect on what this means for our attitude toward creation, toward one another, and toward ourselves and inspires us to take risks in order to grow as grateful persons in relation to him.

Christian theological inquiry, I believe, opens up a lively understanding of gratitude that can inform the character ofpersonal and professional relationships. Christian theology provides a framework within which the virtues are grounded: it is not a system from which ethical conclusions can be deduced. Aristotle helpfully distinguishes between what is clear and knowable to us because we have created the terms in which a point of view is stated and what is “clearer and more knowable by nature,” by which he means what lies behind and within what we claim to know but is, albeit intelligible and informative, nonempirical—that is, metaphysical (Aristotle, 1984c, Phys, 184a). The Christian theological framework shares this character: it lies behind and within what we claim to know; it is intelligible and informative but not empirical.

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