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Ethics for a Brave New World Paperback – January 1, 1993
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“This 2nd edition of Ethics for a Brave New World by John Feinberg and Paul Feinberg is a welcome updating and expansion of a text I have long considered essential for anyone wishing to engage the moral collapse of contemporary culture with biblically grounded truth. The Feinbergs provide a timely and effective resource for dealing with the most crucial issues of our day, and they do it in ways as appealing as they are compelling.”
—Daniel R. Heimbach, Professor of Christian Ethics, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Truth, Sex, and Morality
“Since the first edition, changes in the world have only made this book’s title more apt. Again and again, science fiction has become science fact; and with masterful theological discernment, John Feinberg helps us to make sense of what is happening. He does a tremendous service by gathering and interpreting an ocean of literature on key issues of our day. Readers will come away informed about the issues, conversant with the multi-faceted debates that swirl around these vital challenges, and equipped and inspired to engage them in a way that glorifies God.”
—John F. Kilner, professor of bioethics and contemporary culture, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; author, Why People Matter and Dignity and Destiny
About the Author
John S. Feinberg (PhD, University of Chicago) is department chair and professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He is the author of Ethics for a Brave New World (with Paul D. Feinberg) and is general editor of Crossway’s Foundations of Evangelical Theology series.
PAUL D. FEINBERG (ThD, Dallas Theological Seminary) was professor of biblical and systematic theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He passed away in 2004.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
A good read and supports my belief that Ethics is one of the Great Virtues, missing in our world today! Ethics with a foundation of Honesty, sprinkled with a bit of backbone and covered over by a cloak of Courage just might help get us back on track but I'm not holding my breath... This book supports what most of us already know but no longer have much hope of recovering these traits again...! :-(
V/R The PhotogDog
But I steeled myself and sat down with the massive text and a cup of tea. What I found was pleasantly surprising. The book tackles a number of hot-button issues, including:
* Stem cell research
* Capital punishment
* Birth control
It isn't the type of reading I'd plow through for the fun of it, but each chapter (or set of chapters) gives systematic, full-range coverage of the topic at hand, all with a solid theological and biblical backing. It's a comprehensive reference for those rough topics, and I think what I like best is how the Feinberg brothers give fair hearing to each side of the equation.
They do so well enough that certain questions that have plagued me for years have now been answered. Each topic has sides presented from the Bible, history, statistics, logic, philosophy... Different sides are heard, and what I like (though some people might not), is that each chapter concludes with a definitive answer. I'm the type who wants to know, is it right or wrong? And while the authors give clear evidence and backing for each side, they give the reader strong guidance as to the final reckoning.
I've turned the tide from wanting to distance myself from this giant `paperweight' to giving it a prized position on my bookshelf as a top reference for my family as we track through major issues.
This was a much needed revised volume from their previous edition. The title is fitting as we are living in a "Brave New World". Seems like ethics books are outdated the minute you walk out the door (just like the laptop you just purchased). First of all, I want to thank the good people at Crossway Publishing for sending me this review copy. I haven't read anything extensively by way of Christian ethics since 2002 and, boy, have things changed. As a pastor, I have recently felt ill-equipped to deal with a variety of issues that have concerned end of life counsel, birth control, reproductive technologies, and more. This book was a long overdue read on my end.
The first chapter was introductory in nature and laid the framework for ethics in general and defines a lot of terminology that is used throughout the book. This chapter is certainly foundational for everything else that follows. This chapter was immensely helpful in introducing some philosophical concepts and ways in which ethicists have articulated their convictions.
Chapters 2 and 3 both deal with abortion. I happen to stay up to date with the abortion issue, so there was nothing by way of theory that was new. What was helpful, however, was a good deal of recent data that notes trends in abortion rates based on geography, race, and economic status, among other things. Sad to see that many "Born-Again Christians" participate in abortion. There is also further conclusive evidence that the baby in the womb does in fact start feeling pain fairly soon into their development. Second trimester abortions through saline injection is torture of the worst kind upon a defenseless baby. I stopped in horror of what countless babies are feeling as they are put to death.
Chapter 4 deals with euthanasia and I learned a lot from this chapter. The Feinberg's are correct in stating that it has become harder to die with the advance of medical technology. I agree with many of the authors' stated positions on how to deal with euthanasia and end of life issue, but I still need to do further study on this issue. Medical technologies have certainly been able to prolong life in ways that were unimaginable not to long ago and we need to think seriously about what constitutes extreme measures of preserving life that is better left to perish. Certainly, I don't believe that everyone and their family is obligated to exhaust every imaginable resource at every cost to preserve life as long as possible. I want to say that I view as morally obligatory the provision of "normal" means of preservation, but would have to deal with extraordinary means of preservation on a case by case basis. This is certainly complex and I feel that I need to do some more research before I feel I can competently counsel folks through just about every imaginable scenario.
Chapter 5 deals with capital punishment and I was able to pretty much speed read this chapter as there was nothing here that I am struggling with.
Chapter 6 deals with human sexuality and birth control. I read this slowly with pen in hand. I got a much needed update on the various pills that are on the market and what exactly they do in regards to birth control. What was also interesting to work through was whether there even is a basis for Christians to use birth control. Though natural law arguments against birth control seem pretty persuasive to me, I think that it's permissible to embrace certain methods of birth control that doesn't involve an abortifacient. I don't think that it's obligatory for a couple to have as many kids as they possibly can as old as they possibly can. I won't exhaust all my thoughts from the chapter as this is just a review of the book, but I commend the authors' treatment on this issue.
Chapters 7 and 8 deal with homosexuality. Ample information is provided for those wishing to examine all the nuanced arguments regarding sexuality. The Feinbergs' exegetical and Biblical theological expertise shines as they deal with many of the passages that homosexuals use to defend their practice as permissible within Scripture.
Chapters 9 and 10 deal with genetic engineering and reproductive technologies. Almost all of this content was new territory for me. I honestly can't believe what is going on today regarding the various technologies for producing a baby. Sifting through all of the scenarios honestly gave me a headache; not because it isn't important or written poorly, but because of the complexity of the issue and the endless hypotheticals that one may have to deal with. I may be an ultra-conservative on these issues, but I conveniently opt for natural law arguments against pretty much every technology for producing babies. I know folks who have used certain technologies and I simply haven't felt comfortable asking about how many fertilized eggs were lost, or how many embryos were destroyed or currently frozen, and what they plan on doing with the remaining frozen embryos. I guess we view such things as extremely private and don't dare to tread into such waters. That being the case, I do need to develop some convictions for the couple who may ask for my counsel.
Chapters 11 and 12 deal with genetic engineering, gene therapy, and stem cell technology. Lots of good information that represents what's current in the medical field.
Chapter 13 deals with marriage, divorce, and remarriage. The Feinbergs' do a great job of dealing with all of the pertinent texts and surveying all of the major Evangelical views, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each view. I will withhold my personal convictions on this matter and instead commend this chapter as very useful for all who wish to examine this issue Biblically, which is where the issue should be settled.
Chapter 14 deals with war and nuclear proliferation. All of the various views are dealt with fairly by the Feinbergs'. They acknowledge how difficult it is to discuss just war and other models within the current war on terrorism and such. The authors are critical of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as meeting all of the criteria for a traditional just war theory, but also admit that we are no longer dealing with a conventional enemy by way of conventional means. The authors adequately deal with various positions on nuclear proliferation and war and the various policies that nations have adopted. There are no easy answers.
Chapter 15, in closing, deals with the Christian's obligations in the secular state. Various views are offered and the authors adopt a hybrid of sorts from all of the views. The authors give the appearance of cherry picking the best from all views without actually articulating a Biblical framework that is consistently applied. This is perhaps why I appreciated what the Feinbergs had to say. There is way too much complexity in the Scriptures to adopt some rigid view that is really incompatible in the secular state. We need to look to Jesus, Paul, and the full witness of Scripture to realize that the Christian lives in the complex state of mediating allegiances to both God and the state.
All in all, I think that this book is a great resource for those interested in delving into these issues. The book offers more than just theory, but shows a pastoral concern for the practical relevance these issues have on the world today and how we as Christians ought to represent Scripture in a credible fashion. This book will be referred to in the coming years until there is yet another updated volume. We are certainly living a "Brave New World" and it is both exciting and frightening to see what issues we will be dealing with in another generation should the Lord tarry.