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Christian Ethics: Options and Issues 0th Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0801038327
ISBN-10: 0801038324
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Norman L. Geisler (PhD, Loyola University of Chicago) is cofounder and former dean of Southern Evangelical Seminary. He is the author of more than sixty books, including the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic (September 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801038324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801038327
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cameron B. Clark VINE VOICE on August 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is the most current of Geisler's books on ethics and incorporates many of the points of previous works such as Ethics: Alternatives & Issues, Options in Contemporary Christian Ethics, and The Christian Ethic of Love. The book is, as the title suggests, a presentation of CHRISTIAN ethics, so the Bible is taken as the standard text for discussing certain issues such as homosexuality, abortion, war/civil disobedience, and other similar ethical issues. But scientific and rational arguments are also used in addition to Biblical exposition to reach conclusions.

The first part of the book is concerned mainly with approaches to Ethics in general and Christian Ethics in particular. After perusing the field and debunking moral relativism, Geisler concludes that the best ethical position is what he calls "Graded Absolutism." This basically means that certain situations require one to decide which of two conflicting absolutes to obey. Geisler is sure to clarify that this is different than Situation Ethics (by Joseph Fletcher and others) which states that the situation determines the rule. On the contrary, the graded nature of absolutes determines which rule to apply in a given situation. Overall, a good read which still has me thinking and referring back to the book.
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Format: Paperback
Geisler writes clearly and logically to:
1) Defend Christian ethics against non-Christian ones e.g. might makes right, good = pleasure. This includes showing that Christian ethics is deontological (duty-centred) rather than teleological (end-centred), e.g. utilitarianism. In particular, it is based on God's revelation. He rightly points out that even unbelievers have a law written on their hearts (Rom. 2:14-15), so they have no excuse for neglecting this general revelation. But one weakness is that Geisler insufficiently stresses that Scripture must be the guide for interpreting general revelation and for determining whether one's conscience is right.
2) Present a good defence that the Christian position is "graded absolutism", where moral absolutes exist, but a higher absolute exempts one from following a lower absolute. His gives the ethical dilemma of not telling the truth to save lives, describes how six different views deal with this, presents both pluses and minuses, then analyses them in detail in terms of Scripture to draw his conclusion.
3) Analyses hot topics such as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, homosexuality and "biomedical issues". He presents both sides' arguments, usually from science and Scripture, then effectively critiques the view he disagrees with. The arguments seem so effective that there's little I would change even though the book is now 12 years old. So the book is an excellent handbook for all Christians who want to argue effectively about moral issues.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.

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:

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).
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Format: Paperback
This book is a decent introduction to Christian Ethics. Geisler starts with survey's of various approaches to Christian ethics, and then moves into various ethical issues such as abortion, war, ecology, and other major ethical topics. In each chapter, Geisler reviews what different positions on various topics are: for, against, and somewhere-in-between. He offers Biblical and philosophical criticisms of each surveyed position. The end of each chapter contains some suggested books for further reading.
There are some draw backs to this book though. Firstly, this book sometimes seems to read more like a stero manual, especially early on. Secondly, though this book tries to be objective in its survey of various views, Geisler tends to make it very evident what he believes the proper view is, and usually reserves his personal views for the end of each chapter. Thirdly, after the first 8 or 9 chapters or so, I tended to find myself simply skimming the book, as it became pretty easy to anticipate what he was going to say... which made the book rather dry to read. Forthly, I think it would have been nice if Geisler included a chapter on birth control. Finally, I think this book is a little out of date, and probably could use more interaction with more influencial theologians on each side of the various debates.
This book makes for a good introduction to Christian ethics, though it is not exactly a page turner. Ideal perhaps for Bible college text- which is why I read it.
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