Book: Why the Church Needs Bioethics

Posted By on January 17, 2014

Editor’s note: This book has many good things to say and is for the purpose of directing our thinking back to scripture. It doesn’t however make conclusive directions for the reader. It leaves the responsibility for ethical biomedical decisions where they ultimately lie, on the shoulders of its readership. 

The pace of change in modern times often has the power to astonish and to take the breath away. Technologies which are greeted with amazement in their infancy soon become a part of everyday life and before long are taken for granted. Yet although new technologies and discoveries seem to promise unmitigated progress, very few, if indeed any, produce no unintended “side effects.” There seems to be a general principle ingrained in the very fabric of life that “progress” always brings with it another series of challenges, another round of dangers and another set of temptations.

Solomon alludes to this principle in the first chapter of Ecclesiastes, where he portrays man’s attempts to overcome problems and difficulties as leading to yet more problems and difficulties: “This sore travail hath God given to the sons of man to be exercised therewith. … That which is crooked cannot be made straight: and that which is wanting cannot be numbered” (Ecclesiastes 1:13, 15). It is as if man is constantly seeking to straighten out the paths of his life, but whenever he succeeds in doing a little straightening, he finds that another crooked path has been placed before him that he hadn’t previously anticipated.

Central to all these discussions is the Gospel itself, which the authors recognize must be at the heart of any proper understanding of all bioethical issues. Jesus Christ not only gives wisdom, He is wisdom. Which is why Luke—answering Solomon’s lament that that which is crooked cannot be made straight—says of Christ that He is indeed able to make the crooked straight (Luke 3:5). Why the Church Needs Bioethics is very clear on this point: If we are to learn wisdom and bring it to bear on any issues of a bioethical nature, we must begin by understanding the Gospel, and then seek to apply the ramifications of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of the Son of God on every issue we are confronted with.

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