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Retrieving the Natural Law: A Return to Moral First Things (Critical Issues in Bioethics) Paperback – April 14, 2008
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— Senior Editor of Pro Ecclesia
"J. Daryl Charles provides a sobering analysis of the natural law deficit in modern Protestant theological ethics. Making a strong case for reclaiming the natural law as an indispensable bridge for creating moral consensus on public policy in a pluralistic society, Charles argues that the Protestant voice on ethics and morality lacks power and relevance due to its general abdication of the natural-law tradition."
— Dallas Baptist University
"In Romans 12:17 Paul exhorts the church to ‘respect what is right in the sight of all.' This obviously suggests that there is something that all people respect as right, whether they want to admit it or not. Basic moral perceptions, engraved on the human heart, constitute the natural-law tradition, which itself enjoys the support of the biblical notions of general revelation and common grace. Daryl Charles's muscular volume on the retrieval of this tradition enables men and women of faith and goodwill to obey Paul's exhortation and, simultaneously, to illuminate and season the public square, love our neighbors in word and deed, and point to the real truth of things. In light of major-league bioethical and political concerns, now is the time for the Tao, to borrow C. S. Lewis's symbol for this outlook. You won't find a clearer, keener exposition and defense for it than this book. Charles, as it were, is a contemporary son of Issachar who understands the times with a knowledge of what we should do."
Christian Scholar’s Review
“J. Daryl Charles has written a highly stimulating discussion of natural law. . . . Charles’ book is researched thoroughly, drawing upon a wide range of thinkers and scholars. His arguments are laid out carefully, yet not at the cost of readability. Importantly, he emphasizes the stakes in the contest: natural law provides a way for Christians to be heard amidst the moral collapse occurring around us.”
“[Charles’s] discussions are insightful and even prophetic, calling the reader to honest and critical reflection. . . . There is much that is good and valuable in this volume.”
“The book, impressive in its catholicity and breadth of argument, deserves a wide hearing.”
Theological Book Review
“A well-written and clear analysis of highly important issues in bioethics.”
Southwestern Journal of Theology
“I highly recommend this work. It is at once theoretically robust and readily pragmatic. . . . An important volume for medical professionals who want to think deeply about the faith in practice and for theologians who want to take the essentials of the Christian faith into the public square.”
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Top Customer Reviews
First, Charles makes an exceptional case for the need to restore natural law. He begins with an exposition of where the culture is at then argues that the culture is in need of a kind of re-orientation toward natural law morality. He shows the culture, writ large, to have been influenced by a philosophical pluralism, relativism, pragmatism and utilitarianism. He argues that this kind of thinking is steeped in subjectivity moving toward a moral relativism without any objective moral norms. He contends that we need to get back to a kind of metaphysical realism, that grounds basic moral norms, for which human persons are able to access through reason. Appropriately, he cites Pope John Paul the II in fides et ratio wherein he makes three comments about the nature of human reason: first, reason is oriented to truth; second, humans are truth-seekers; third, humans seek after God, existence and life. Next, after surveying the general stance of church thought on natural law, he discusses the Protestant bias against natural law thinking. Prior to this point he has persuasively argued that natural law is presumed in the Old Testament and Paul's teaching from Acts 17 and Romans 1 where all men are spoken of as knowing God and knowing the difference of right and wrong through perception.Read more ›
In chapter one, titled, Introduction, the book confirms the sense of urgency that Christianity sees in restoring the natural law. In chapter two, Charles points out where our culture is currently at. He begins by making an assessment of the cultural climate. Chapter three brings in the point of Christian tradition in natural law. Charles argues that all people are equally intuitive of the moral law which is writ on their hearts by the Creator. Regardless of people's cultural or social context, every individual is equally accountable. From chapter four, it is evident that not all Protestant Christian ethicists hold on to the same beliefs in the realm of bioethics. Here Charles quotes theologians like Luther, Calvin, Bullinger, and Zwingli on the side of natural law and puts theologians like Karl Barth, Jacques Ellul, John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas, and H. Richard Niebuhr on the opposing side who contributed to the theological discontinuity of natural law.Read more ›