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The Vision of God

Christian Doctrine of the "Summum Bonum"


Author Information

Kenneth E. Kirk

Kenneth E. Kirk was educated at the Royal Grammar School, Sheffield, and St. John's College, Oxford. After serving as a chaplain in France and Flanders during World War I, he returned to Oxford to become Tutor at Keble College, Fellow at Magdalen College, Fellow and Chaplain of Trinity, and in 1933 Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology. He was Bishop of Oxford from 1937 until his death in 1954.

Judges' and contributors' comments

Nick Holtham: The greatest account of Anglican moral theology in the 20th century was Kenneth Kirk’s The Vision of God. In it he suggested that the words ‘disinterestedness’ or ‘unselfishness’ express the ideal of Christian character. The essence of Christian ethics is that no form of self-centredness can truly be called disinterested and therefore the first practical question of Christian ethics is how can unselfishness be attained? His answer is the way of worship, which lifts the soul out of its preoccupation with itself and centres its aspirations entirely on God. It is a brilliant insight that our good behaviour is not the purpose of life with which we are helped by worship but that, worship is the end of life and conduct tests it.

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