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Retrieving the Natural Law: A Return to Moral First Things (Critical Issues in Bioethics) Paperback – April 14, 2008

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Retrieving the Natural Law: A Return to Moral First Things (Critical Issues in Bioethics)
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Carl E. Braaten
— 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."

David Naugle
— 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.”
 
Theological Studies
“[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.”
 
Themelios
“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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Product Details

  • Series: Critical Issues in Bioethics
  • Paperback: 360 pages
  • Publisher: Eerdmans (April 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080282594X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802825940
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,364,186 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
There is much that could be said about this book by J. Daryl Charles. Charles argues that natural law is needed in the public square, in Christian circles and in bio-ethical discussion. I will mention three. First, he makes an exceptional case for the need to restore natural law. Second, he offers two natural law principles to bio-ethics. Third, he exhorts Christians in very practical ways as to our obligations from and to the natural law.
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.
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A summary and not just a review of this book by J. Daryl Charles is much deserving. Charles makes a careful analysis of the Protestant theology in the current century which is devoid of natural law. The purpose of undertaking a series such as this, of which this book is a part, as suggested in the foreword, `is to bring thoughtful and biblically informed Christian voices in bioethics into dialogue with other voices that are influential today." (pg. ix). The book is set on the backdrop of the belief that `it is the responsibility of Christianity to explain to all people why Christian perspective should be taken into account.' This makes the people who do not share similar theological commitments as the author and his associates, the target readers.
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.
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This book was required for a class however it was not my fave read. Maybe someone else will like it.
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