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Christian Ethics

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Pressing ethical issues pertaining to abortion, euthanasia, divorce, and others are examined from a biblical perspective.


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Pressing ethical issues pertaining to abortion, euthanasia, divorce, and others are examined from a biblical perspective.

30 review for Christian Ethics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Aitken

    Geisler's work is divided into two parts: a survey of the different positions (including a defense of his own, graded absolutism) and a treatment of different issues in ethical reasoning. While one can quibble with some of his exegesis, his larger arguments are compelling. His treatment of defective ethical positions, such as Joseph Fletcher's Situationism, is masterful. Situationism The situationist has the one law of love, the many general principles of wisdom, and the moment of decision (Geisle Geisler's work is divided into two parts: a survey of the different positions (including a defense of his own, graded absolutism) and a treatment of different issues in ethical reasoning. While one can quibble with some of his exegesis, his larger arguments are compelling. His treatment of defective ethical positions, such as Joseph Fletcher's Situationism, is masterful. Situationism The situationist has the one law of love, the many general principles of wisdom, and the moment of decision (Geisler 45). Fletcher repeatedly asserts that the rule of Christian ethics is “love.” So what do I do in a specific situation? The “what and why” are absolute and the how is relative. Geisler does note a number of legitimate strengths of situationism, but nonetheless there are gaping inadequacies. *One norm is too general (57). *Unless there is advanced cognitive content to what “love” is, then one doesn’t really know what I am commanded to do! *There can be many universal norms. *Fletcher hasn’t given any substantial reason on why axioms deduced from other axioms can’t be universal. *A different universal norm is possible. *Why do we privilege Christian love and not Buddhist compassion? *On what basis do we choose one single norm as binding? Utilitarianism Greatest good for greatest number. Problems and ambiguities: (1) who gets to determine what “good” means? (2) Offers no protection to minority viewpoint, since by definition they will never been in the “greater” number. (3) The definition of “end” is unclear. Do we mean a few years? Lifetime? Eternity? In that case, only God could be a utilitarian and he is not (77). Unqualified Absolutism premise: all moral conflicts are only apparent; they are not real (79). Held by Augustine, Kant, Charles Hodge, John Murray, and Puritanboard. hypothetical problem: Lie to the Nazis at the door? Augustine: cannot gain eternal life by temporal evil. John Murray: Sanctity of Truth and Truth is the essence of God. However, he does not believe every intentional deception is a lie (e.g., a general’s movements in war). Negative Aspects Disputed premises: (1) Are sins of the soul necessarily worse? Perhaps, but the Platonic premise here should at least by acknowledged. On this view, a “white lie” is worse than rape. (2) Can the lie to save lives be separated from mercy? “God blessed the mercy but not the lie.” But is this really coherent? (3) Will God always save us from moral dilemmas? 1 Cor. 10:13 only promises victory from temptation, not deliverance from moral dilemmas. Fatal qualifications Even one exception to this rule kills Unqualified Absolutism--and Augustine allows for exceptions in the case of Abraham and Isaac/Jepthath and his daughter. *John Murray doesn’t believe we should be truthful in all circumstances (Murray 145). “Punting to Providence” God does not always spare his children from moral dilemmas. In fact, obedience often puts the believer in dilemmas! “Third Alternatives are not always available.” e.g., Tubal pregnancies Conflicting Absolutism Premise: (1) Real moral conflicts do occur in this fallen world. (1.1) Yet when faced with this conflict, man is morally accountable to both principles. In other words, sucks to be you. (1.2) Yet, sin is conquerable through the cross. Popularized as “Lesser-evil” approach. Best seen in Lutheran Two-Kingdoms. Also, Lutherans will (correctly) praise Bonhoeffer’s attempt to kill Hitler but also say it did violate a norm. Criticisms As Geisler notes, this position is basically saying “we have moral duty to sin,” which is absurd (Geisler 103). Another problem, whatever God commands is ipso facto good, so it can’t be a “lesser evil.” Here is Geisler's own position, Graded Absolutism: Explained: (1) There are higher and lower moral laws. (2) There are unavoidable moral conflicts (3) No guilt is imputed for the unavoidable. Illustrated: (4) Love for God is more important than love for man. (5) Obey God over Government (6) Mercy over veracity (Nazis at the door). Options and Applications: Issues The second section of the book deals with problems in Ethics. BioMedical Issues. (1) Nothing groundbreaking here. (2) Most of the criticisms against utilitarianism can be employed against secular humanism on this point. (3) Nota Bene: Geisler doesn’t come out and affirm birth control. However, he does note that birth control methods that kill a fertilized ovum are murder. Condoms, however, do not kill fertilized ova. And whatever the merits of NFP, the couple is still in the “controlling” aspect, so it is a form of birth control. (4) He is against cloning. He defends capital punishment by asking the question: Is punishment supposed to be “retributive” or “rehabilitative?” The Bible clearly supports the former. Punishment is to punish the offender. Nothing more, nothing less. And common sense shows how tyrannical the latter can be. If the offender is just a patient, then when he is “cured?” (Hint: whenever (if at all) the state says he is). Geisler gives good responses to the opponents of capital punishment. In fact, if “rehabilitative” models of justice are necessarily suspect, then capital punishment wins by default. Geisler defends the possibility of just war, including tactical nuclear strikes. A tactical nuclear strike against a larger army is not the same thing as launching thousands of ICBMs and will not destroy planet earth. Civil Disobedience Makes a helpful distinction between “Antipromulgation” and “Anticompulsion” (241-242). The former advocates rebelling against the government when it passes a law that permits evil or limits freedom. Schaeffer took this position in A Christian Manifesto. Not only is it unworkable, it is negated by much of Christian history. The latter position means disobeying the government when it commands you to do evil. Geisler categorically condemns armed revolution. Marriage and Divorce: As marriage is more than sex, so sex is more than procreation. Its purpose is threefold: (1) propagation (Gen. 1:28), unification (Gen. 2:24), (3) recreation (Prov. 5.18-19). His take on divorce is a bit complicated. It is always wrong That does not mean remarriage is not permissible under certain circumstances. There can be situations where it is allowed (abuse, desertion) Unfortunately, Geisler’s “Graded Absolutism” doesn’t save his position. (1) and (3) are contradictory, unless you add another premise: (3*) Where the necessary situations obtain, divorce is not wrong. Except Geisler doesn’t actually say that. That’s my position and I think if you pressed him, he would agree, too. Conclusion: This is a fine intro to Christian Ethics and will serve nicely in a college or seminary classroom.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Harvill

    The author discusses and evaluates six different ethical systems (antinomianism, situationism, generalism, unqualified absolutism, conflicting situationism and graded absolutism) and several thorny and controversial ethical issues (abortion, euthanasia, biomedical issues, capital punishment, war, civil disobedience, marriage/divorce, homosexuality and ecology). There were several ethics positions of which I was unaware. For example, the activist position in war and civil disobedience assumes that The author discusses and evaluates six different ethical systems (antinomianism, situationism, generalism, unqualified absolutism, conflicting situationism and graded absolutism) and several thorny and controversial ethical issues (abortion, euthanasia, biomedical issues, capital punishment, war, civil disobedience, marriage/divorce, homosexuality and ecology). There were several ethics positions of which I was unaware. For example, the activist position in war and civil disobedience assumes that government direction automatically makes an action just. I had wondered how a people that produced Martin Luther and a wealth of theological study could submit in lock-step fashion to a man such as Hitler. Perhaps this ethical position helps to explain this contradiction. The author presents and evaluates multiple sides of the ethical systems and issues in a respectful manner. By the end of each chapter, there is no doubt where he stands. Yet he presents a good example of respectful disagreement. He did not dismiss opposing viewpoints and often pointed out certain strengths and good points in his critiques of them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adrian

    The author presents in a very structured way several ethycal systems and multiple important ethical issues. The author gives multiple arguments for each christian position regarding a ethical issue.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Madison Prentice

    This book was very poorly written. The chapters on ethical systems did their job but when it got to the sections on specific ethical issues, the explanation of his oppositions viewpoints were sorely lacking and honestly a bit insulting. The author fails to recognize the credible opposing arguments and therefore defends them easily but this is of little value since he doesn’t address the true opposing positions. He overgeneralizes and it’s frequently obvious he doesn’t respect the people who hold This book was very poorly written. The chapters on ethical systems did their job but when it got to the sections on specific ethical issues, the explanation of his oppositions viewpoints were sorely lacking and honestly a bit insulting. The author fails to recognize the credible opposing arguments and therefore defends them easily but this is of little value since he doesn’t address the true opposing positions. He overgeneralizes and it’s frequently obvious he doesn’t respect the people who hold the position opposite to his own. Don’t get me started on the chapter on homosexuality, he doesn’t consider scripture could be interpreted any way other than his own. I don’t disagree with many of his resulting positions but his arguments are faulty and even if it was written ten years ago is out of touch. I’ve never gotten so angry at a textbook, it is not written out of humility or love and has no place representing a Christian ethic.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mason Frierson

    Dr. Geisler's work is exceptionally well-researched, well-documented and well-written. His arguments are both powerfully supported and rationally coherent. While his detailed, in-depth analyses of complex issues, and his introduction of numerous, abstruse concepts (such as emotivism, reconstructionism, selectivism and solipsism) might render the book more appropriate as a university textbook for use at the graduate, if not the undergraduate level, it nevertheless commends itself as an exceptional Dr. Geisler's work is exceptionally well-researched, well-documented and well-written. His arguments are both powerfully supported and rationally coherent. While his detailed, in-depth analyses of complex issues, and his introduction of numerous, abstruse concepts (such as emotivism, reconstructionism, selectivism and solipsism) might render the book more appropriate as a university textbook for use at the graduate, if not the undergraduate level, it nevertheless commends itself as an exceptional resource for those readers seeking a thorough, comprehensive, and up-to-date reference in the field of Christian ethics. As arguably the most reasoned, comprehensive and authoritative, general text on Christian ethics to date, it speaks extensively to the world's current state of rampant and callous depravity. Thus it deserves a prominent place in the library of every serious student of Christian ethics, apologetics or theology.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Garrett

    Some decent thoughts here, and I realize this is a survey book, more or less, but still, most of this is devoted to demolishing straw men that no one credible defends.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Jake Brock

    Well constructed, thorough and user-friendly guide to understanding and engaging in ethical reasoning from a Christian worldview.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Travis Johnston

    Good book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    Hard to say that a 400+ page book is insufficient, but this book is lacking some serious depth. Geisler does a thorough job of describing all the arguments for a particular issue, but fails to spend any actual time discussing why he thinks the argument falls short. Many of his responses to said arguments are one sentence long, and most are filled with unproven assertions. That's not to say he is wrong, I agree with him a great deal. However, he doesn't spend an adequate amount of time developing Hard to say that a 400+ page book is insufficient, but this book is lacking some serious depth. Geisler does a thorough job of describing all the arguments for a particular issue, but fails to spend any actual time discussing why he thinks the argument falls short. Many of his responses to said arguments are one sentence long, and most are filled with unproven assertions. That's not to say he is wrong, I agree with him a great deal. However, he doesn't spend an adequate amount of time developing or backing up his points. That being said, all in all it is a great way to get an overview of arguments for or against specific ethical issues. But to really wrestle with the arguments, I find it to be lacking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joanna Crawford

    This is one of the most poorly written textbooks on ethics that I have ever read. The author offers outrageous statements without any sourcing. In his attempts to teach about various ethical controversies, he offers weak straw men arguments, then knocks them down as "proof" that his opinion is correct. I don't mind books that do not support my beliefs -- in fact, I welcome them -- but I do expect good scholarship in educational materials. If you state something as fact, back it up. That's what fo This is one of the most poorly written textbooks on ethics that I have ever read. The author offers outrageous statements without any sourcing. In his attempts to teach about various ethical controversies, he offers weak straw men arguments, then knocks them down as "proof" that his opinion is correct. I don't mind books that do not support my beliefs -- in fact, I welcome them -- but I do expect good scholarship in educational materials. If you state something as fact, back it up. That's what footnotes/endnotes are for.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mary J

    The edition I read (the newest, I think) was relevant to this day and was a great resource. I wouldn't recommend it as the only one, especially if you are an ethics major, but it is wonderful for those who simply took an intro class (like me). Simply stated, presents the facts, and makes sense of these issues to Christians who may not understand the ethics of what they believe.

  12. 4 out of 5

    RevRonR

    This book is written in a good systematic way that makes it highly useful for those of us in ministry who wish to examine critical topics and ethical view upon them. It was a valuable read, however, like many works on ethics written over five years ago, it could use a little revision. Nevertheless, it still has some gravitas.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tyson

    This book was pretty good on many fronts. There is still a lingering doubt in my mind that certain theories of ethics don't simply constitute a form of relativism if they are not absolute. Geisler seems to evaluate them fairly. Overall, a good read, but I would not make this an exclusive reading for all ethical issues.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris Comis

    Read this for a few classes on ethics. Not bad here and there, but overall, too much reliance on autonomous human reason to figure out certain ethical dilemmas and not enough reliance on the Scriptures.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jake

    A pretty decent intro to Christian ethics. Not as in depth as most ethics majors would prefer, but we're not all supposed to be ethics majors, now are we? Could definitely stand for some more 21st century editing though.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sean-david

    What you would expect from Geisler. Detailed and fairly complete, but a rather apologetical approach that seems to be somehwat lacking in the grace/gospel category.

  17. 5 out of 5

    CassieV

    Well written, but the subject is just not one that fascinates me.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michael Vincent

    Geisler does a great job explaining a variety of ethical views and applying the Scriptures to a variety of social issues. An important topic for Christians to consider.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel

  20. 4 out of 5

    Moses Ronnie

  21. 4 out of 5

    Macho

  22. 4 out of 5

    Gordon

  23. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jon

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lowell McDonald

  26. 5 out of 5

    Guilder

  27. 5 out of 5

    Randall

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

  29. 5 out of 5

    Paul

  30. 4 out of 5

    Mike Jorgensen

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