Mary Baldwin Professor James E. Gilman Publishes Book on Christian Virtues

April 3, 2001

Fidelity of Heart: An Ethic of Christian Virtue, by Dr. James E. Gilman, Mary Baldwin University Professor of Philosophy and Religion, was published recently by Oxford University Press.

In Fidelity of Heart, Gilman argues three things: first, he argues that many modern Christians admire Jesus instead of follow him, that they are spectators to the Christian drama and not actors in it; secondly, he argues that those Christians who admire Jesus mistakenly believe that they are followers of Jesus, that those Christians who are spectators mistakenly believe they are actors in the play; and thirdly, he argues that it is a matter of some urgency that Christians admit this mistake and make the transition from passively admiring Jesus (spectator) to actively following him (actor). Gilman shows in his book how this transition from admiring to following Jesus can be undertaken and the difference this transition makes in how the Christian community lives its moral life.

Gilman identifies traditional Christian virtues – love, peace, justice, and compassion – and makes the case for understanding them in new and extraordinary ways. He insists that they must be put into practice, and that moral truths can be both universal and meaningful to a particular, local community. Gilman draws on and develops themes from the works of philosophers contemporary and classical, from Plato and Aristotle to Jonathan Edwards, Soren Kierkegaard, and Martha Nussbaum. He also calls on the work of modern writers such as Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou and, of course, the Bible.

Gilman has been at Mary Baldwin University for 17 years and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion since 1985. He earned a B.A. in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University, M.Div. in Theology from Denver Theological Seminary, M.A. in Classical Antiquities from the University of Colorado, M. Phil. in Theological Studies, Philosophy of Religion, and a Ph.D. in Theological Studies, Philosophy of Religion from Drew University. Gilman was a research fellow at Oxford University.

Mary Baldwin University is a multi-faceted liberal arts college in Staunton, Virginia, with three residential programs for women – the traditional program, the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, and the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership – as well as coeducational, non-residential Adult Degree and master’s programs. Mary Baldwin offers the B.A. and/or the B.S. in 32 majors, the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) with K-8 emphasis, the Master of Letters (M.Litt.) in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance, and post-graduate teaching licensure (PGTL). The oldest women’s college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., Mary Baldwin was founded in 1842 and is also the first women’s college to be granted a circle of the national leadership honor society Omicron Delta Kappa. It is one of only 262 colleges and universities to house a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society.