Amazon.com: Customer Reviews: Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions (Contours of Christian Philosophy)
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Customer Reviews

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on February 8, 2001
Holmes packs a lot into a short space. Undergraduate students have found it a bit heavy going, but for those willing to work through the text, it is profoundly insightful. A great introduction to various ethical philosophies in the West, their strengths and their shortcomings, with some chapters that apply the principles to specific ethical issues. The book is 17 years old but has a timelessness about it - unlike, say, John Stott's "Issues Facing Christians". Holmes does not give "current statistics" and tends to operate at the level of principle, which gives his work a helpful timelessness. Worth having on the shelf if you are a reader.
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on March 26, 2009
Overall, this is a fine survey of ethics from a Christian perspective. It is well written and offers much to consider. Highly recommended.
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on March 7, 2013
I thoroughly dislike the way the author structured his topics in this book. The information is heady enough without him muddying the arrangement without clear, concise division among topics. When I see such garbled thought processes, I think either the author hadn't mastered the subject or he knows too much and is having difficulty organizing his thoughts.

Because of the disorganization and run-on thoughts, this book was much more complicated than it needed to be.
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on October 18, 2011
Very good book and relevant to what is going on today ... I believe every Pastor and church board elder should read this book.... A+
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on March 11, 2016
This is a lucid, accessible systematic treatment of ethics from a moderate Reformed perspective. Like other systematic treatments (Geisler, Feinberg, Davis) Holmes surveys a number of options in ethics (egoism, relativism, etc) and finds problems. The second half of the book explores a constructive, Christian alternative.

For Holmes ethics is about the good (what virtues should we cultivate?) and about the right (what is my moral duty?) (Holmes 12).

The sections on emotivism, egoism, and utilitarianism are outstanding. His treatment is good enough for a college class, but definitely needs supplementation for graduate work.

Christian Perspective:

Holmes's pattern of moral reasoning:

(a) What essential human action spheres are involved?
(b) What essential purposes inhere in the nature of those activities?
(c) How can these purposes be be pursued with justice and love?

End: God’s kingdom.

Overall moral principle: Love as agape.

(1) Justice stresses the right, outward ordering of life; love the inner principle (54). Together they bring shalom.
( 2) Just peace (each man under his own fig tree--Micah).
(3) Liberating peace (children dancing in the streets--Zechariah).

Situation ethics problem: few have the ability to anticipate and calculate consequences in each and every situation (55). But if our world is a divinely-ordered creation, then we can expect law-spheres and creation mandates.

Holmes explores moral knowledge and the role conscience plays, yet he hesitates in affirming the role of conscience. Holmes seems to reject this idea of conscience as a faculty because it is from an outdated psychology (61-62). Holmes says we must look for “Creational indicators” for what is essential and inherent in human nature (68). I agree; I just think that is a lot closer to traditional “faculty psychologies” than he wants to allow.

Holmes' final two chapters build upon Alasdair MacIntyre's work.

The Moral Agent

Following MacIntyre, Holmes notes human nature has a capacity that aims towards a telos (128), a Christianized eudaimonia. Jesus’s “Kingdom” doesn’t exist in the abstract, but within a certain narrative (129).

Virtue Ethics

Our choices are governed by what we most love. This love gives rise to justice and the other virtues of a well ordered life (134--see also City of God Bk 19).

Conclusion:

This is a fine introductory text that covers most of the issues in reasonable depth. I have some minor criticisms. Holmes downplays the role conscience plays. And while his chapter on utilitarianism was fine, one wishes he would have devoted more space to situation ethics.
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on March 17, 2014
Bought it new. Content great for academic exercise. Just not my point of view. Stimulates a lot of thinking and can trigger your desire to read more on philosophical topics.
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on December 6, 2012
It goes a whole lot deeper than I expected however I truly appreciate the insights. If you are serious about ethics it is definitely a must read.
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on December 28, 2015
This book was quite informative on general ethics and how it is compared to Christian ethics. It puts ethics into perspective of God's intended love and justice for all of humanity.
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on October 12, 2015
Bought for school - interesting read. I think it'll be something I continue to read instead of keep as a coffee table accessory.
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on August 12, 2016
It was a deep look into the trials that we can expect.
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