Book Review – Christian Bioethics

It seems that there is a never-ending barrage of ethical questions coming at pastors, health care workers, and families. Some may wonder where to turn for answers for some of the most difficult ethical issues. C. Ben Mitchell and D. Joy Riley, an ethicist/professor and an ethicist/doctor help Christians to understand how to make life and death decisions in an effective way in Christian Bioethics (B&H). The questions that surrounded us even 50 years ago, are different and more complicated than those we face today. Having an up-to-date help in addressing these issues, in what looks like an excellent series (B&H Studies in Christian Ethics), these two authors serve as able guides.

The authors begin by addressing issues of Christian bioethics in a general way. Particularly helpful is their second chapter where they show the necessity of understanding the Bible as our foundational guide for ethical decisions and show how it speaks to issues of today.

Part 2, looks at issues of death, particularly abortion and human dignity and dying. Both are hot-button topics in our 24 hour news cycle and important for Christians to have solid answers on.

Part 3 looks at issues of life, with regards to infertility and reproductive technology, organ donation and transplantation,  and cloning and human-animal hybrids. Some of the issues hit close to home for many people, including Christians, and it is important for us to understand these issues.

Part 4 considers issues of remaking life, including issues of aging and life-extension and how to preserve our humanity in the midst of our ever-growing biotech world. How we should treat our elderly, and what fundamentally it means to be human are important questions for all of us.

The book is not completely comprehensive, and there are areas of discussion that could be explored further. There are broader topic books on Christian ethics (not just bioethics) that would be helpful supplements on this volume. Mitchell and Riley helpfully offer resources on all of these issues for further reading. The style (where each author is represented in each chapter) could come off a little disjointed to developing a coherent whole thought on each issue, but it is helpful to see both author’s perspectives. Yet, when it comes to some of these profound issues facing both Christians and non-Christians alike, Mitchell and Riley helpfully address them from a biblical standpoint. Not every reader will agree with everything here, but they will have to work through Mitchell and Riley’s understanding of both Scripture and the times we live in.

When it comes to anyone dealing with these bioethic issues today (which frankly is most likely all of us), I would consider Mitchell and Riley’s Christian Bioethics to be a helpful guide in the great morass of issues facing us. They provide a compassionate and caring understanding that issues we are going through, or people we know are going through.

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